New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GREEN v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-018-339, Claim No. 105372


Synopsis


No medical proof was offered to establish that the delay in treatment was related to the basketball injury or the need for surgery. The claim is dismissed.

Case Information

UID:
2004-018-339
Claimant(s):
ERIC GREEN
Claimant short name:
GREEN
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
105372
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Claimant's attorney:
ERIC GREENPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: GORDON J. CUFFY, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 9, 2005
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant seeks damages for injuries he allegedly sustained due to the State's failure to properly treat an injury to his right knee while he was incarcerated at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility (hereinafter CVCF). He testified that in March 1999, he injured his right knee playing basketball. He sought medical treatment at the facility infirmary on numerous occasions, but he was only allowed to see the doctor twice. Claimant testified that once the doctor at CVCF said there was nothing wrong with his knee, the nurses refused to schedule another appointment for him with the doctor.

In January 2002, Claimant was transferred to Mid-State Correctional Facility. The doctor from Mid-State sent him to a specialist in Syracuse, Dr. Smallman, who performed arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Claimant did not know what type of surgery he had, just that the doctor had to "go in and clean up a lot of stuff."[1]

As a result of his injury, Claimant said he suffers pain in his knee everyday. He has not played basketball or run since his surgery. In his opinion, the three-year delay in treatment has caused him to undergo unnecessary pain and suffering before the surgery and has resulted in a loss of muscle mass and on-going pain. He does not attribute any of his problems to the surgery that was performed in Syracuse. Claimant can walk and climb stairs and has been able to do so except for two weeks after surgery when he had to use crutches to ambulate.

No other witnesses were called and no exhibits were offered. At the end of Claimant's case, the State moved to dismiss on the basis that no medical proof was offered to establish that the delay in treatment was related to the basketball injury or the need for surgery. That motion is now granted.

Allegations that Defendant failed to timely and properly treat a medical condition assert a claim of medical malpractice. To establish liability for medical malpractice, the Court must have evidence to prove what Defendant did wrong; that is how Defendant's treatment, or lack thereof, deviated from what is considered appropriate medical care (
Pike v Honsinger, 155 NY 201; Bloom v City of New York, 202 AD2d 465).
In addition, there must be proof causally connecting Defendant's improper treatment to Claimant's injuries (
see id.; Kennedy v Peninsula Hosp. Ctr., 135 AD2d 788). In Claimant's case, the Court cannot determine, without expert testimony, how Claimant's injured knee should have been treated, what Defendant did wrong, and how Defendant's failure caused Claimant's injury (see Mosberg v Elahi, 80 NY2d 941, 942). These matters are not within the common knowledge of the Court as fact-finder but rather require specialized medical knowledge.
Accordingly, the claim must be DISMISSED. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.


February 9, 2005
Syracuse, New York

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




[1]All quotes are from the trial recording.