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New York Appellate Court Allows Negligent Treatment Of Depression Which Results In Suicide To Go Forward

October 26, 2013

Our Westchester personal injury lawyers continue to monitor the evolution of New York tort law. Our White Plains lawyers continue to work towards social justice issues.

In a recent case, the New York Second Department Appellate Department has reinstated a case seeking recovery of pre-death pain and suffering where the Defendant was negligent in treating the depression of a person who ultimately committed suicide. The Defendants argued that the plaintiff could not recover damages in a wrongful death action for any conscious pain and suffering the decedent may have experienced prior to her suicide and the Westchester Supreme Court agreed that the allegations failed to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted.

The Appellate Court disagreed and held that the complaint which sought pre-death pain and suffering prior to the suicide stated a cause of action which established a cognizable legal theory sounding in professional malpractice and reversed the Westchester Supreme Court and reinstated the complaint. The Court reasoned that New York’s Estate Powers Trust Law 11-3.2(b), which is a survival statute, states that no cause of action for injury to a person is lost because of the death of the person in whose favor the cause of action existed. Therefore, a cause of action based on personal injuries which survives the death of the decedent is distinct from a cause of action to recover damages for wrongful death. The Court went on to recognize that the fact that the decedent’s depression was pre-existing does not preclude the plaintiff from attempting to prove her entitlement to damages on the theory that the decedent’s condition was exacerbated by the Defendants’ negligence.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph