NYSDA Publications

New York Court Dismisses Dental Malpractice Case Against Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine

The Appellate Division, Second Department, of the New York State Supreme Court, dismissed a dental malpractice case in Sacher v. State of New York on the basis that the patient failed to set forth the correct date of the alleged dental malpractice in the notice of intention to file a claim.  The court deemed this to be a jurisdictional defect, notwithstanding that the correct date was set forth in the subsequently filed claim, because the defective notice of intention did not extend the 90-day period for filing a claim against the State of New York (in this case it was Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine and the claim itself had been filed more than a year and a half later).  The case is interesting because it shows how difficult and strict the rules are for suing a State entity as opposed to a malpractice case against a private entity.  Not only must a patient file a 90-day “notice of intention” to file a claim against the State, but then must file a timely claim after – and both must be letter perfect to confer jurisdiction against the State.  Here the court rules the “notice of intention” was defective and that ends the case at the outset in favor of the State.  There is an extensive dissenting opinion that finds this inconsistent even with the admittedly strict interpretation of the rules for suing the State.  The State receives this extra protection because it would enjoy sovereign immunity to any lawsuit but for the Legislature creating a system to sue the State for damages and waiving that sovereign immunity – but only under the strictest procedural requirements that the patient did not satisfy here.  A copy of the complete court opinion can be read here: Dental Malpractice Court Case.