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October 13, 2023
Health Law Weekly

New York Appeals Court Says COVID-Era Law Shielded Hospital from Medical Malpractice Liability

  • October 13, 2023

A hospital who treated a patient who died from COVID-19 was immune from a subsequent medical malpractice action under a state law that was in effect during the pandemic, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held October 2.

The patient died from COVID-19 in April 2020. Her estate’s administrator sued Elmhurst Hospital Center where the patient was treated for medical malpractice and wrongful death. The hospital moved to dismiss the action, arguing it was immune from liability under the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (EDTPA), which the New York State Legislature enacted at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trial court denied the motion.

Under the EDTPA, which has since been repealed, health care facilities were given immunity from civil or criminal liability for providing services related to diagnosing, preventing, or treating COVID–19 during the state’s emergency declaration.

The appeals court reversed the decision below, holding the hospital was entitled to immunity under the EDTPA. The decedent was diagnosed, treated, and died from COVID-19, and the complaint did not allege willful or intentional criminal misconduct, gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional infliction of harm, which were the only exceptions to the EDTPA’s immunity provisions.

Mera v. New York City Health and Hosps. Corp., No. 2021–06922 (N.Y. App. Div. Oct. 4, 2023).