Health Care Professionals

Goldberg Segalla attorneys have counseled and defended health care professionals and businesses through some of the most sweeping regulatory changes, advances in technologies and practices, and trends in individual and class action litigation to affect the industry in the last two decades. Our winning team combines deep and diverse health care industry experience, a collaborative and holistic approach to legal services, and relationships with the nation’s top expert witnesses to find the ideal resolution for the claims our clients face — whether through early settlement or dismissal, mediation, trial, or appeal.

Our litigators have defended claims of obstetrical malpractice, improper surgical technique, neurologic misdiagnosis, psychiatric treatment, and a variety of hospital in-patient claims. They have tried to verdict scores of medical malpractice cases and other professional liability cases, defending physicians, administrators, nurses, physician's assistants, a wide variety of medical specialists, and other health care professionals; as well as hospitals, long-term care facilities, specialty medical practices, and health care systems.

In addition, we provide our clients with timely alerts on case law and regulatory developments, and provide proactive risk-management counsel. We anticipate the manner in which the widespread use of electronic patient records, HIPAA law, telemedicine, and health insurer subrogation claims — to name just a few emerging issues — may impact our clients, and we counsel them to greet these changes with the confidence that comes from foresight and comprehensive legal preparation.

Our Health Care Industry Experience

Many of our seasoned litigators draw on health care backgrounds, bringing to each matter an invaluable understanding of the internal and external pressures that our clients face — as well as a powerful authority in the courtroom. Our team includes former in-house counsel for health care businesses and systems, long-term care company board members, hospital and emergency room advisory committee members, and a former paramedic.

Our attorneys are also committed to the constant refinement of their trial technique and expanding their knowledge of current medical science through service on the Steering Committee of the Defense Research Institute's Health & Medical Liability Committee, which has over 2,000 members nationally. They have spoken at its national annual conference to hundreds of trial attorneys and health industry professionals on the subject of advanced trial technique in the defense of medical malpractice cases.

In addition, our attorneys are active members and leaders in legal and industry organizations including:

  • Vice Chair of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC) Health Care Section
  • Vice Chair of the Defense Research Institute (DRI) 2018 Nursing Home and Assisted Living Seminar
  • American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) — Chapter Editor of Post Acute Care Handbook
  • Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS)
  • Faculty of the Long Term Care Risk Forum Power Lawyers Program

Our Expert Witness Edge

Decades of experience have helped us develop an extremely valuable database of expert witnesses to call upon, as well as a parallel database of the experts commonly retained by plaintiffs’ attorneys. These databases are essential in preparing defense strategies and developing effective cross-examination of opposing expert witnesses based upon close analysis of testimony they have given in other cases.

Our clients trust us to choose, prepare, and utilize the best expert witnesses for each matter, and then to translate the sophisticated concepts in their testimony into compelling narratives for the judge and jury. Recent cases reflect the complexity of the legal and medical issues involved in the claims our clients face — as well as the role that our effective preparation and cross-examination of expert witnesses has played. For example:

  • We retained a leading neurologist who had previously served as the State of Florida’s independent medical expert in the widely publicized Terri Schiavo 'right to die' life support case. The central issue in our case, in which we represented a major medical center, turned upon this expert's testimony and represented a potential multimillion-dollar swing in the jury verdict, depending upon whether the patient could receive an award for conscious pain and suffering. The use of this expert was critical in demonstrating the absence of cognition.

Our Impact

Because our attorneys are deeply embedded in the health care industry — through previous in-house and professional experience, leadership in industry organizations, and long-term relationships with clients — we are uncommonly conscious of developments in case law and the impact that each of our results could have not only on our clients, but on the entire health care community. That impact has been overwhelmingly positive. In several instances, the cases we have successfully resolved have made new law upon which future cases will be decided.

  • We tried the case of Kambat v. St. Francis Hospital, the leading case citation in New York's Pattern Jury Instructions on the subject of res ipsa loquitor, a legal concept applied when an unintended medical outcome can ostensibly have no explanation other than professional error. Although the first jury unanimously found in favor of our client, on appeal to New York's highest court the case was remanded for a second trial to be conducted with the res ipsa loquitor jury instruction, which essentially tells a jury to find for the plaintiff if the medical outcome could only be explained by medical error. On retrial, a second jury also unanimously found for our client. The case was considered significant enough to receive front-page treatment in the New York Law Journal, New York's leading law publication, and to be addressed in tort law textbooks used in law school curricula.
  • In another case which received national media attention, we defended a hospital at which a nurse had euthanized extremely ill elderly patients and was convicted and imprisoned. The hospital's liability for these actions turned upon its supervision and knowledge of the activities of the nurse, and we directed the in-house investigation which was essential to establishing defenses to the multiple wrongful death claims.
  • We won dismissal of a $25 million medical malpractice suit alleging failure to diagnose against a health clinic associated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a physician working there. Law360 covered this complicated, 17-day bench trial, which involved conflicting testimony and detailed analysis of symptoms and standards of care for a rare spinal nervous condition, cauda equina syndrome. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York’s ruling that the clinic and the supervising physician were not liable for damages the plaintiff sustained due to allegedly late diagnosis not only reaffirmed the standard of care our clients maintain, but also created case law favorable to health care providers.
  • We established new law while defending a nonprofit health and human services agency for individuals with special needs, accused of causing serious injury and death of the plaintiff. The plaintiffs attempted to establish that the group home was a “residential healthcare facility” and therefore subject to the Public Health Law, which would make it easier for the plaintiffs to access punitive damages. The New York State Appellate Division Fourth Department agreed that the group home was not a “residential healthcare facility” and dismissed all claims under the Public Health Law — a landmark victory for the thousands of agencies that operate under the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) regulations, as we explained in a Buffalo Law Journal article

We also volunteer to teach medical students at medicolegal seminars to advance their knowledge of their legal obligations, for the benefit of both their patients and their practices. In short, we are active in every important aspect of the advancement of current medicolegal thinking, and our attorneys bring that to bear for the benefit of every client we have the privilege to represent.