New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

McFADGEN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-013-520, Claim No. 105310


Synopsis


There was no evidence to support, let alone establish, negligence on the part of the medical care providers, or to establish that anything was done or not done by the medical care providers that caused, contributed or worsened Claimant’s medical condition or caused him any compensable damages. Accordingly, this claim for medical malpractice/negligence is dismissed.

Case Information

UID:
2006-013-520
Claimant(s):
REGINALD McFADGEN
Claimant short name:
McFADGEN
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
105310
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
PHILIP J. PATTI
Claimant’s attorney:
REGINALD McFADGEN, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
BY: GREGORY P. MILLER, ESQ.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
December 20, 2006
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

In Claim No. 105310 filed on December 6, 2001, Claimant seeks damages for chest problems, heart problems, a left-lung problem, a left-cavity problem, a stomach problem, a mental stress problem, etc., and lists some nine causes of action alleging what may be characterized as medical negligence/malpractice, the denial of medical care, numerous attempts to poison and tamper with his food, toothpaste, medicine, etc., accruing August 22, 2001 at Wende Correctional Facility (Wende), and seeks $500,000.00 in damages.
Claimant testified that, inter alia, there was a failure to perform a stool test which would have shown the tampering with his food. However, Claimant has offered no evidence by someone with the experience or qualifications to support the necessity for such tests, or what they would have shown. Claimant also alleges a vast conspiracy of employees to poison and tamper with his food, medicine, etc., a failure to do proper and necessary tests, and that Defendant did the same medical and laboratory tests over and over again, without sound medical reason, and failed to do tests that would have detected the purported foreign substances. Moreover, he asserts that such culpable conduct took place at various correctional facilities throughout New York State.
Whether Claimant’s suspicions are valid or not, there was a total failure of admissible proof of any culpable conduct by the Defendant. Claimant’s personal opinion just is not enough. Moreover, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Clements, Medical Director at Wende, reviewed Claimant’s medical records and Claimant’s complaints of poisoning, etc., for the period from August 2001 to January 2002, as well as his claim, and noted that he was tested in February, May and September 2001, including a toxicology screen looking for, inter alia, arsenic, mercury and lead, an H. pylori antibody test for Claimants’s epigastric pain, etc. The medical records reveal that ALL test results were negative for his complaints, and all measured levels of chemicals were well below dangerous levels, and there were no abnormalities.
In this matter it is not necessary to determine whether Claimant’s allegations were based on a theory of medical negligence or on a theory of medical malpractice, because of the absence of admissible proof. Regardless, I address both. The theory of medical negligence is rele-gated to cases where the alleged negligent acts are readily determinable by the trier of fact based on common knowledge. However, when the propriety of the treatment received is called into issue, the more specialized theory of medical malpractice is applicable (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Ctr., 114 AD2d 254, 256; Hale v State of New York, 53 AD2d 1025, lv denied 40 NY2d 804). In a medical malpractice case, Claimant has the burden of proving that the medical provider did not possess or did not use reasonable care or best judgment ( Hale v State of New York, 53 AD2d 1025, lv denied 40 NY2d 804, supra). Moreover the Claimant has the burden of proving a deviation from accepted standards of care and must produce evidence that the deviation was a proximate cause of the injury sustained. To meet this burden and to make a prima facie case of medical malpractice, Claimant is required to present expert medical testimony (Macey v Hassam, 97 AD2d 919; Kennedy v Peninsula Hosp. Ctr., 135 AD2d 788).
Medical negligence, in essence, alleges negligent omissions or commissions by State caregivers which can be readily determined by the fact finder using common knowledge without the necessity of expert testimony. However, this theory is limited to “those cases where the alleged negligent act may be readily determined by the trier of the facts based on common knowledge” (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Ctr., 114 AD2d 254, 256, supra). Such cases have involved scalding a patient with a hot water bottle (Phillips v Buffalo Gen. Hosp. 239 NY 188), leaving an electric light bulb under the sheets (Dillon v Rockaway Beach Hosp., 284 NY 176), leaving a postoperative patient unattended in a bathroom (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Ctr., 114 AD2d 254, supra), and other similar circumstances.
The entire thrust of Claimant’s proof is that proper tests were not administered and none of the tests performed were able to substantiate his complaints. There was no admissible evidence whatsoever that would support any theory of liability against the Defendant.
Whatever Claimant’s complaints were, any assessment of his medical complaints and treatment inherently required the expertise of a physician. The issues in question do not involve matters within the common knowledge of this Court, but call into question the propriety of the treatment given. As a result, this cause of action must be characterized as sounding in medical malpractice, rather than in medical negligence (Armstrong v State of New York, 214 AD2d 812, lv denied 86 NY2d 702). As indicated above, a medical malpractice cause of action requires expert testimony. No such expert medical testimony was presented, and thus Claimant has failed to establish a prima facie case of medical malpractice. Even if part of this claim could be construed as containing allegations based upon medical negligence, I find the proof lacking in this regard as well. There was nothing in the evidence to establish negligence on the part of the medical care providers, or to establish that anything done or not done by the medical care providers caused, contributed or worsened Claimant’s medical condition or caused him any compensable damages.
Accordingly, the State’s motion to dismiss is now granted in its entirety and the claim is dismissed.
All motions not heretofore ruled upon are now denied.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

December 20, 2006
Rochester, New York

HON. PHILIP J. PATTI
Judge of the Court of Claims