The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department (“New York Appellate Court”) stated in its Decision & Order dated October 6, 2021 in a New York medical malpractice case where the jury awarded the plaintiff $250,000 for pain and suffering and $750,000 for wrongful death, “there is no evidence in the record from which the jury could have rationally concluded that Reiss’s failure to communicate with Carpentieri was a proximate cause of the decedent’s death.”
The New York Appellate Court stated, in part: “Carpentieri testified that the last visit that the decedent had with him occurred on September 9, 2009. The plaintiff’s expert testified that the evidence established that Carpentieri did not treat the decedent in November and December of 2009. Although Carpentieri automatically refilled the decedent’s prescription for Lisinopril on December 28, 2009, the evidence established that this prescription could not have reached the decedent’s home by mail until after the decedent was already unconscious and in the hospital for the final time. Consequently, there is no evidence in the record from which the jury could have rationally concluded that Reiss’s failure to communicate with Carpentieri was a proximate cause of the decedent’s death.”
The Underlying Facts
On November 30, 2009, Joseph Hilt (decedent) consulted the defendant, Joseph S. Reiss (Reiss), an allergist, complaining of an allergic reaction. Reiss concluded that the drug Lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor that the decedent had been taking for high blood pressure for three years, was causing the allergic reaction, and Reiss told the decedent to stop taking Lisinopril. Reiss saw the decedent again on December 7 and December 21, 2009, and on both occasions, he confirmed that the decedent was no longer taking Lisinopril. Reiss did not communicate with the defendant Adam Carpentieri (“Carpentieri”), the decedent’s primary care physician who had prescribed Lisinopril to the decedent, to inform Carpentieri that the decedent should no longer take Lisinopril. On December 29, 2009, the decedent collapsed at his home, and was admitted to New Island Hospital that day. The decedent was transferred to North Shore University Hospital on December 31, 2009, and he died on January 2, 2010. Gerard Cantanese, a medical examiner, testified that the cause of death was an anaphylactic reaction due to Lisinopril.”
The New York medical malpractice wrongful death jury determined, in pertinent part, that Reiss had departed from good and accepted medical practice in failing to communicate with Carpentieri regarding his decision to have the decedent discontinue the use of Lisinopril, and that this departure was a substantial factor in bringing about the decedent’s anaphylactic reaction and subsequent death.
The New York Appellate Court concluded: “the Supreme Court should have granted that branch of the Reiss defendants’ motion which was pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) to set aside the jury verdict and for judgment as a matter of law.”
Source Hilt v. Carpentieri, 2017-07128, 2017-10251.
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