New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CRESPO v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-018-337, Claim No. 103721


Synopsis


Claim is dismissed after trial due to lack of expert testimony thus failing to prove a cause of action for medical malpractice.

Case Information

UID:
2004-018-337
Claimant(s):
DIONISIO CRESPO
Claimant short name:
CRESPO
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
103721
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Claimant's attorney:
DIONISIO CRESPOPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 1, 2005
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant brought a claim[1]
alleging the State's failure to provide adequate medical treatment after Claimant fractured his right hand and wrist on March 21, 2000, while incarcerated at Watertown Correctional Facility (WCF).
Claimant testified that, while sleeping, he hit the wall with his hand and injured it. In the morning, his hand was swollen so he went to the infirmary. The nurse examined his hand and wrist and told him it was not broken and sent him back to work. He went to sick call four times between March 21, 2000 and April 4, 2000, when an x-ray was ordered. The x-ray was not actually performed until April 14, 2000. When Claimant was finally taken to an outside hospital, Claimant testified he was told it was too late to fix his wrist. Claimant was given a hand splint and ace bandages for his hand. He continued to complain of pain periodically. On December 4, 2001, Claimant had surgery, according to the medical records, for carpometacarpal fusion. Claimant testified that he still has pain and a limited range of motion. He still has trouble sleeping and can no longer work in the electrical field because of the limitations from his injury.

At the end of Claimant's case, the State moved to dismiss for failure to prove Defendant committed medical malpractice. The motion is GRANTED. To establish a cause of action for medical malpractice, there must be proof that Defendant's doctor or medical provider deviated or departed from accepted medical practice and that the deviation was a proximate cause of Claimant's injury (
Bloom v City of New York, 202 AD2d 465; Kramer v Rosenthal, 224 AD2d 392). Unless the question of what the doctor did wrong and how this caused Claimant's injury is within the common knowledge and experience of a lay person, expert testimony is necessary to establish the essential elements of the cause of action (Mosberg v Elahi, 80 NY2d 941, 942). Here, what the proper treatment for a fractured hand is and how the State deviated is not within the common knowledge of the Court. Even if we were to find, however, that the State's failure to x-ray Claimant's hand for almost a month was inadequate medical care; it is certainly not within one's common experience to know whether Claimant's resulting injury is due to the delay in obtaining x-rays. Claimant suffered a subsequent fall and further injuries. To establish a causal link between any failure of the State to diagnose and treat his hand fracture of March 21, 2000 and his current condition, expert testimony is critical (see Duffen v State of New York, 245 AD2d 653; Williams v State of New York, 164 Misc 2d 783). Claimant provided no expert testimony and has thus failed to prove a cause of action for medical malpractice. His claim of gross negligence is also without merit. Accordingly, the claim must be DISMISSED.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

February 1, 2005
Syracuse, New York

HON. DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]The claim actually alleged three causes of action, one for negligence, gross negligence, medical malpractice, and "future damages." Defendant brought a motion for summary judgment (Motion No. M-66637) and by Decision and Order filed June 19, 2003, this Court dismissed the causes of action alleging negligence and "future damages."