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Plaintiff alleges severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury, from an accident at school. M.O. v. The City of New York, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 33620 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2023)


In the case of M.O. v. The City of New York, a student sustained a brain injury at school, leading to a personal injury lawsuit against the City. The legal issue centered around the amendment of the initial claim to include an additional injury that was not specified at the onset. The court was tasked with deciding whether the plaintiff could modify the claim to incorporate new evidence about the brain injury, which was only fully understood after further medical evaluation post-incident. This decision would impact the scope of discovery and the direction of the case.

Background Facts
The plaintiff, a young student, suffered injuries when a wooden storage cubby toppled onto her. Among the injuries initially disclosed were blunt head trauma and persistent headaches occurring several times a month since the incident. Over time, the plaintiff’s legal team amended their claims to include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which was not initially listed. This amendment prompted the City to request additional examinations to accurately assess the new allegations.

A TBI occurs when an external force injures the brain. It can result from a blow to the head, a jolt, or a penetrating injury that disrupts normal brain function. TBIs range in severity from mild (commonly referred to as concussions) to severe, with symptoms that can include headaches, confusion, blurred vision, behavior changes, and in severe cases, extended periods of unconsciousness or memory loss. The impact of a TBI can vary widely; some individuals may experience short-term effects, while others face long-term complications or permanent disability.

Whether the defendants, including the City of New York and several educational officials, could compel the infant plaintiff to undergo an independent medical examination (IME) and further examination before trial (EBT) in light of the newly claimed traumatic brain injury.

The court granted the City’s motion in full, directing that the infant plaintiff appear for both an IME and further EBTs focused on the newly alleged brain injury.

Despite potential waivers previously implied by the City regarding its right to conduct these examinations, the court relieved this waiver, emphasizing that no prejudice would result to the plaintiff from these actions. The decision underscored the ongoing nature of discovery in this case and the lack of a filed note of issue, which collectively justified further investigative measures.

An IME is a medical evaluation conducted by a doctor who is not previously involved in a person’s care, to provide an objective medical assessment. IMEs are often used in legal cases, insurance claims, and workers’ compensation cases to determine the extent of an injury, the treatment necessary, or whether an injury is related to a specific accident or workplace condition. The examination aims to offer an unbiased opinion to help resolve disputes about medical conditions or claims.

The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that previous disclosures during examinations before trial provided sufficient notice of the brain injury. It was determined that the descriptions of blunt head trauma did not adequately inform the City of the extent or specific nature of the brain injury, thus entitling the City to conduct further discovery to fully understand the injury’s impact.

The next steps following the court’s decision to compel additional examinations and depositions involve conducting the ordered IME and further examination before trial of the plaintiffs. These are scheduled to occur within sixty days from the court’s order, and both parties will prepare by gathering additional evidence and formulating questions that probe the extent and nature of the alleged traumatic brain injury. The outcomes of these examinations could significantly influence the ongoing legal proceedings, potentially impacting settlement negotiations or the strategies employed if the case proceeds to trial.

This case highlights the complexities of managing personal injury claims involving delayed or evolving medical diagnoses. For individuals facing similar legal challenges, particularly those involving accusations of medical malpractice or personal injury whether there is a brain injury, it is crucial to seek the guidance of a skilled New York brain injury lawyer who can provide the necessary support to understand your rights, navigate the legal system, and ensure that all pertinent aspects of the injury are thoroughly examined and addressed.


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