News

Major Win For New York Emergency Medical Technicians and Another Dismissal For Gerald T. Murphy, Jr.!

September 18, 2018

In a very interesting false imprisonment, assault, battery and medical malpractice case, Senior Associate, Gerald T. Murphy, Jr. was able to obtain summary judgment dismissing all causes of action alleged against a volunteer ambulance service and its Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). In this very unique case, the plaintiff had originally commenced an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against our client, a volunteer ambulance service, as well as a metropolitan area hospital and other municipal defendants, asserting Federal civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C § 1983 and state law claims of false imprisonment, assault and battery arising out of a patient’s alleged involuntary commitment. The federal court dismissed the federal claims asserted against all of the defendants, however, declined to exercise jurisdiction over the patient’s state law claims and dismissed the case without prejudice.  A state action was then commenced, however, Mr. Murphy moved for summary judgment immediately, before the discovery stage of litigation could even begin.

In Mr. Murphy’s motion papers, he argued that a voluntary ambulance service is immune from liability pursuant to Public Health Law § 3013. Summarily, it was argued that liability on the part of an emergency first responder may only attach in cases where it is established that the injury alleged was caused by gross negligence on the part of the voluntary responder. Mr. Murphy also argued that the plaintiff could not prove the requisite elements of the state claims for false imprisonment, assault and battery.

In a decision dated September 11, 2018, the New York Supreme Court-Kings County granted our motion and referred to the applicable sections of the Public Health Law, which were cited by Mr. Murphy.  The court adopted our argument and held that there was no evidence that our EMTs were grossly negligent. The court also held that our client had established its prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law, through evidence obtained during discovery phase of the prior federal court action, including but not limited to deposition testimony, hospital records and statements, which demonstrated that the plaintiff had failed to establish the requisite elements of false imprisonment, assault and battery.  As such, the Court granted Mr. Murphy’s motion in its entirety, dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint against the volunteer ambulance service and it’s EMTs.

We recognize the hard work and lifesaving sacrifices of our dedicated emergency first responders. We are pleased that were able to isolate them from liability in this case, as their life saving responsibilities should be of primary concern.

* Attorney advertising. Prior successful results do not guarantee a similar outcome.