The Third Department, modifying Supreme Court, determined an state prison inmate's action in Supreme Court against doctors (Lieb and Angell) alleging medical malpractice should not have been dismissed as duplicating an action against the same doctors in the Court of Claims. It was possible the state would not indemnify the doctors who were not employees of the state and plaintiff would be left without recourse. The Supreme Court action should have been stayed, not dismissed:
The legal theory in the Court of Claims action is nearly identical to the Supreme Court action, and it is not disputed that the two actions arise out of the same set of facts. Moreover, Correction Law § 24-a provides that licensed physicians providing contractual medical care at the request of DOCCS are covered by the defense and indemnity provisions in Public Officers Law § 17, as long as the injury was not the result of intentional wrongdoing. As such, it appears that the dismissal of the Supreme Court action would not prejudice plaintiff's right to receive full recovery from all defendants, as intentional wrongdoing is not part of the Supreme Court action and any damages attendant to Lieb's or Angell's malpractice or negligence would be borne by the state in the Court of Claims action.
However, while these defense and indemnity provisions appear to apply to Lieb and Angell, the record is not fully developed at this time to make such a definite determination. Indeed, despite currently defending Angell, the state has neither conceded nor admitted in any of its submissions or pleadings that it is statutorily bound by Correction Law § 24-a and Public Officers Law § 17 (3) (a) to indemnify Lieb and Angell. Rothschild v Braselmann, 2018 NY Slip Op 00054, Third Dept 1-4-18
CIVIL PROCEDURE (BECAUSE IT WAS POSSIBLE THE STATE WOULD REFUSE TO INDEMNIFY DEFENDANT DOCTORS IN THIS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTION BROUGHT BY A STATE PRISON INMATE, THE SIMILAR ACTION IN SUPREME COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED, BUT RATHER THE SUPREME COURT ACTION SHOULD BE STAYED PENDING THE OUTCOME IN THE COURT OF CLAIMS (THIRD DEPT))/COURT OF CLAIMS (BECAUSE IT WAS POSSIBLE THE STATE WOULD REFUSE TO INDEMNIFY DEFENDANT DOCTORS IN THIS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTION BROUGHT BY A STATE PRISON INMATE, THE SIMILAR ACTION IN SUPREME COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED, BUT RATHER THE SUPREME COURT ACTION SHOULD BE STAYED PENDING THE OUTCOME IN THE COURT OF CLAIMS (THIRD DEPT))