Summary Judgment Granted in Nursing Home Case Involving an Improper Maintenance Operation

Summary Judgment Granted in Nursing Home Case Involving an Improper Maintenance Operation

Senior Trial Partner Jeffrey Shor, Partner Conrad Chayes, and Associate Victor Ivanoff received Summary Judgment in a nursing home case. This was an action brought on the behalf of a then-62-year-old nursing home resident, wherein Plaintiff claimed medical malpractice and improper maintenance/operation of a Hoyer lift.  Suit was also commenced against the manufacturer of the medical device.  On June 4, 2017, the Hoyer lift apparently malfunctioned, dropping the Plaintiff to the floor, and resulting in skull fracture and brain bleeding. 

We utilized three experts in support of our motion for summary judgment: Geriatric and Internal Medicine, Neurology, and Engineering.  Affidavits were prepared on behalf of each expert, the internist opined as to the overall medical care rendered at the facility, the proper operation of the lift, and Decedent’s death; the neurologist provided opinions as to the Decedent’s neurological baseline and the fact that the fall did not impact Decedent’s functional baseline; and, our engineering expert provided opinions as to the facility’s maintenance and operation of the lift, his inspection of the lift ,and that our insureds complied with the manufacturer instructions.  Our initial arguments addressed the medical malpractice claims, Public Health Law claims, negligence claims, punitive damages, and wrongful death cause of action.  We advanced over one dozen medical and legal defenses to the direct claims, as well as addressed the cross-claims raised by the very adversarial Codefendant lift manufacturer.  Our substantive motion papers totaled in excess of ninety pages, exclusive of the nearly three dozen exhibits in support. 

Plaintiff submitted opposition to our Motion, though same was only supported by the affidavit of an engineering expert; thus, we argued in reply that the Plaintiff was unable to overcome our arguments with respect to the claimed injuries, wrongful death cause of action, and duration of/ability to perceive pain and suffering.  Further, the Plaintiff failed to oppose our arguments with respect to dismissal of the Public Health Law claims, the medical malpractice claims, punitive damages, the son’s derivative claims, and the cause of action for wrongful death.  We cited opinions issued by the same Judge, dismissing the respective actions under similar circumstances, as further exhibits.

With respect to Plaintiff's arguments under res ipsa loquitur, we argued same requires a showing of exclusive control over the mechanism of injury; here, Plaintiff alleges that our facility maintained the lift, but that the lifts were negligently designed or manufactured by the Codefendant.  This constitutes a concession on the part of Plaintiff that there do exist alternate causes for the claimed injuries. 

 Justice O'Donoghue adopted each of our arguments in dismissing the case as against our insured facility, together with the Codefendant's cross-claims, in their entirety and with prejudice.  Additionally, on the basis of our proximate causation arguments, the Court also dismissed the action as against the Codefendant lift manufacturer.