State not liable for alleged deficiencies in medical care provided to inmate in the absence of medical testimony.
|Claimant short name:||BOONE|
|Footnote (claimant name) :|
|Defendant(s):||THE STATE OF NEW YORK|
|Footnote (defendant name) :|
|Judge:||STEPHEN J. MIGNANO|
|Claimant's attorney:||AARON BOONE, pro se|
|Defendant's attorney:||ANDREW M. CUOMO, ATTORNEY GENERAL
By: Michael Krenrich, Assistant Attorney General
|Third-party defendant's attorney:|
|Signature date:||November 10, 2010|
|See also (multicaptioned case)|
Claimant, an inmate at Shawangunk Correctional Facility, seeks damages for negligence and medical malpractice in connection with a kidney biopsy performed at Albany Medical Center on November 5, 2007. Claimant testified that he was brought to the medical center by van, had the biopsy performed, and 25 minutes later was given a set of discharge instructions and asked to sign (Exhibit 1). He was taken back to the correctional facility in the van, shackled, admitted to the infirmary for one night and discharged to special housing (SHU) on the afternoon of November 6. Claimant stated he had complained of bleeding when he first arrived back at Shawangunk and on the next day, but his complaints were ignored. On the 7th, he began to feel pain in the abdomen, was taken to the clinic (after "my complaints went unanswered for several hours") and taken by ambulance back to Albany Medical Center where he was admitted and remained for 17 days of inpatient treatment.
Copies of relevant portions of claimant's Ambulatory Health Record were received (Exhibit 2) but no records from the medical center were submitted. A November 7, 12 noon nurse's note indicates that claimant complained of severe abdominal pain at about 11:50 a.m., was brought to the clinic, examined, and sent to the medical center via ambulance that left the facility at 1:05 p.m. The only reference in the evidence before the court that even alludes to the reason for claimant's hospitalization is in a November 23 nurse's note stating that claimant was being discharged to the correctional facility with a "peri-renal hematoma" (Exhibit 2). The Ambulatory Health Record refers only to small amounts of dried blood on November 5 and 6, with no reference to any bleeding.
Nurse Administrator Lois Barringer testified that claimant was discharged from the infirmary to SHU the day after his return from the hospital pursuant to the facility's standard procedure and that he had no complaints at that time.
Urging the court to find in his favor, and opposing the State's motion to dismiss for failure to establish a prima facie case, claimant maintained that he should have remained at Albany Medical Center overnight instead of returning to the correctional facility the same day, and that his complaints of pain were not addressed soon enough. He maintained: "Had they
addressed it earlier, maybe I would have saved 17 days in the hospital."
In order to sustain his claim, claimant was required to prove two things: (1) that the treatment rendered to him constituted a departure from accepted medical practice and (2) that such departure was a proximate cause of injury (Frye v Montefiore Med. Ctr., 70 AD3d 15). Here, as in most cases of alleged medical malpractice or medical negligence, the issues are "not within the ordinary experience and knowledge of lay persons [and] expert medical opinion is a required element of a prima facie case" (Wells v State of New York, 228 AD2d 581, 582, lv denied 88 NY2d 814). Claimant's failure to present medical testimony explaining the reason for his hospitalization and connecting it to a departure from accepted practice is necessarily fatal to his case, notwithstanding his own speculation and conclusions (Tatta v State of New York, 19 AD3d 817, lv denied 5 NY3d 712).
Additionally, the caption and body of the claim make clear that claimant seeks to impose liability against the State not only for its own alleged negligence but also for that of Albany Medical Center, which the claim identifies as the "agent" of the State. The court takes judicial notice that Albany Medical Center is not a State owned or operated facility and the law is clear that the State is not vicariously liable for alleged malpractice or negligence of medical providers arising out of treatment rendered to inmates at an outside hospital (Soltis v State of New York, 172 AD2d 919; Rivers v State of New York, 159 AD2d 788, lv denied 76 NY2d 701).(1) Even if there was evidence in support of a finding against the medical center or a provider there (which there is not), there would be no basis for imputing liability to the State based on the actions of non-State employees and institutions (id.).
Accordingly, the claim is dismissed for failure to establish a prima facie case. The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly.
November 10, 2010
White Plains, New York
STEPHEN J. MIGNANO
Judge of the Court of Claims
1. In Soltis, the court found an issue of fact preventing summary judgment as to whether the State could be held liable for the negligence of a private physician who treated claimant at the correctional facility under circumstances such that claimant could reasonably believe the physician was a State employee, creating an agency by estoppel. The court distinguished these circumstances from those in Rivers, where "the inmate/claimant received surgical services at an outside hospital from a physician who had no actual or apparent relationship with the State and, thus, the principle of agency by estoppel was inapplicable" (Soltis v State of New York, 172 AD2d 919, 920, emphasis supplied).