Friday, February 28, 2014

First Department Holds Chiropractic Departure Subject to Three-Year, Not Two-Year-Six-Month, Statute of Limitations

In Perez v. Fitzgerald, the First Department held that an action was timely commenced against a chiropractor because the three-year statute of limitations applied to his treatment of the plaintiff.  Whether the shortened medical malpractice statute of limitations applied was an issue the trial court delayed until post-verdict briefing.  A jury then found that the chiropractor departed by failing to refer the plaintiff to a second MRI.  On post-verdict briefing, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint.  

The First Department has now reversed the trial court, holding that the defendant chiropractor was not entitled to the shortened 2.5-year statute of limitations under CPLR 214-a.  The First Department first rejected the view that the chiropractor's treatment was "medical" within the meaning of CPLR 214-a.  Then, the First Department concluded that the work was not prescribed by a medical doctor and therefore was not "an integral part of the process of rendering medical treatment to a patient or substantially related to any medical treatment provided by a physician."  In the First Department's view, the defendant could not meet the standard set forth in Bleiler v Bodnar (65 N.Y.2d 65 [1985]), and thus would be held to the longer three-year statute of limitations.

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