In Michaluk v New York City Health Andamp Hosps Corp., plaintiff brought a medical malpractice action relating to treatment received by the decedent plaintiff, at Bellevue Hospital Center between August 2010 and January 2011. Plaintiff subsequently moved to amend the notice of claim to include a cause of action for wrongful death. Ultimately, defendant New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation moved for an order striking the action for plaintiff’s failure to comply with prior court orders, including discovery obligations.
The lower court found that plaintiff willfully failed to comply with numerous discovery orders pertaining to discovery deadlines, including setting dates for depositions. After plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended notice of claim, plaintiff waited over a year before providing defendant with a verified Bill of Particulars. Additionally, plaintiff’s deposition wasn’t completed for over a year, and deposition of non-party witness was not completed until over seven months lapsed. Ultimately, the defendant’s motion to dismiss was granted for plaintiff’s failure to comply with the Court’s directives.
Finding the lower court improvidently exercised its discretion in dismissing the action for failure to comply with discovery, the First Department noted that “warnings in prior court orders that the deposition was not to be adjourned is not notice to plaintiffs that dismissal of the complaint may result should it not go forward.” Defendants failed to show that plaintiff’s failure to go forward with deposition of one doctor was willful, contumacious, or in bad faith and plaintiff’s excuse that attorney was in a motor-vehicle accident 2-weeks before scheduled deposition was reasonable.