New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

TAYLOR v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-031-509, Claim No. 107432


Claimant failed to demonstrate either medical malpractice or negligence relating to alleged delay in medical treatment. Claim dismissed

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

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

Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant’s attorney:
Defendant’s attorney:
New York State Attorney General
BY: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
May 4, 2006

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant, Timothy Taylor, filed Claim No. 107432 on March 5, 2003, alleging that between December 16, 2002 and January 21, 2003, while Claimant was an inmate at Cayuga Correctional Facility, Defendant negligently and carelessly denied him proper medical treatment for pneumonia. Claimant alleges that this failure to properly treat him left him with permanent injuries to his lungs. I held the trial of this claim at Auburn Correctional Facility on September 13, 2005.
Initially, I note that Claimant steadfastly maintained that his cause of action was not for medical malpractice or medical neglect. He alleged, rather, that his cause of action was for Defendant’s deliberate indifference to his serious medical condition, a violation of his constitutional rights. However, once Claimant determined that this Court does not have jurisdiction over Federal Constitutional claims, he requested and was granted permission to proceed on the negligence and malpractice theories.
Claimant testified that, between December 16, 2002 and January 21, 2003, he became increasingly ill and requested medical attention on numerous occasions. According to Claimant, he was seen during this period by a nurse and was given Tylenol and cough syrup for his flu-like symptoms. He was not examined by a doctor, despite his repeated requests. He testified that he had to threaten disruptive behavior in order to finally get the medical attention he needed. Claimant was diagnosed with “vague diffuse left side pneumonia” on January 24, 2003.
At the close of Claimant’s case, I reserved decision on Defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim. I now grant that motion. As stated earlier, to the extent that Claimant has alleged a violation of his Federal Constitutional Rights, this Court has no jurisdiction over such claims. While an inmate in a civil rights action may pursue a constitutional claim of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment for the deliberately indifferent failure by State prison officials to provide adequate medical care, the State of New York is not amenable to suit under 42 USC §1983 in the Court of Claims (Brown v State of New York, 89 NY2d 172; also see Will v Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 US 58).
To the extent that Claimant alleges that the Defendant is guilty of medical malpractice, I must dismiss his claim due to Claimant’s failure to present expert medical testimony that the care he received deviated from good and accepted standards of medical care (see Rossi v Arnot Ogden Med. Ctr., 268 AD2d 916; Spicer v Community Family Planning Council Health Ctr., 272 AD2d 317; Lyons v McCauley, 252 AD2d 516).
Finally, a cause of action sounding in medical negligence, in essence, alleges negligent omissions or commissions by State caregivers which can be readily determined 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. Center, 114 AD2d 254, 256). Such cases have involved scalding a patient with a hot water bottle (Phillips v Buffalo General Hospital, 239 NY 188), leaving an electric light bulb under the sheets (Dillon v Rockaway Beach Hospital, 284 NY 176), leaving a postoperative patient unattended in a bathroom (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Center, supra), and other similar circumstances.
In this action, whether or not Defendant made an adequate and timely diagnosis of Claimant’s pneumonia, and whether or not his condition was made worse by the failure to diagnose and treat his pneumonia earlier is not a matter which lies within the common knowledge of the trier of fact. Whether a claim is couched in terms of negligence or medical malpractice, if the issues involve conditions beyond the common knowledge of a fact finder, expert medical proof will be required to sustain a recovery (Duffen v State of New York, 245 AD2d 653).
For me to conclude that Defendant was negligent for not reaching this diagnosis earlier, or for not pursuing a different course of treatment, I would necessarily require expert input on the subject. Claimant's failure to present any expert medical proof tending to show that the State deviated from accepted medical standards in diagnosing and treating his pneumonia is fatal to his claim.
Consequently, Claimant has failed to establish a prima facie case of either negligence or medical malpractice. Accordingly, Defendant’s motion is granted and the claim is dismissed. All other motions on which I previously reserved decision are hereby denied.

May 4, 2006
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims