The Second Department determined the medical malpractice action brought on behalf of a deceased plaintiff by the surviving plaintiff was properly dismissed for failure to timely substitute a representative for the decedent pursuant to CPLR 1021:
“A motion for substitution pursuant to CPLR 1021 is the method by which the court acquires jurisdiction” over a deceased party’s successors in interest, and such motion “is not a mere technicality” … . CPLR 1021 provides, in pertinent part, “[i]f the event requiring substitution occurs before final judgment and substitution is not made within a reasonable time, the action may be dismissed as to the party for whom substitution should have been made.” “The determination of reasonableness requires consideration of several factors, including the diligence of the party seeking substitution, the prejudice to the other parties, and whether the party to be substituted has shown that the action or defense has potential merit” … .
Here, the record does not support a finding that the surviving plaintiff diligently sought to substitute a representative for the decedent. The proffered explanation for the surviving plaintiff’s delay in obtaining letters of administration was unsubstantiated and insufficient to constitute a reasonable excuse. Moreover, the surviving plaintiff failed to submit an affidavit of merit by a medical expert and did not rebut the defendants’ allegations that they had been prejudiced by the delay in substitution. Contrary to the surviving plaintiff’s contention, the underlying pleadings and verified bill of particulars, standing alone, do not establish the potential merit of the medical malpractice action. Green v Maimonides Med. Ctr., 2019 NY Slip Op 03573, Second Dept 5-8-19