Malpractice Action Against Assisted Living Facility Dismissed; Plaintiff’s Psychiatrist-Expert Not Qualified To Render Opinion On Assisted Living Standard Of Care

In Singer v. Emeritus Senior Living Center, following a series of falls and the later death of Elizabeth Singer, her family sued the Emeritus Senior Living Residence, claiming that the last of those falls led to Mrs. Singer’s cognitive decline and hastened her death. Plaintiff’s expert was a board certified psychiatrist.

At the conclusion of discovery, the defendant facility moved for summary judgment, claiming that plaintiff’s expert was not qualified to offer an opinion on the standard of care for an assisted living facility, and that the expert could not opine, to a reasonable degree of certainty, that the fall proximately caused the injury and death. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case, finding that the expert psychiatrist had no nursing background or training, and referred to no nursing standard of care in preparing his report. The judge also noted that the expert’s causation opinion was speculative. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the summary judgment. It rejected the plaintiff’s argument that dismissal was inappropriate because plaintiff had previously survived a challenge to the expert psychiatrist’s qualifications under the Affidavit of Merit statute. The appellate court noted that the Affidavit of Merit statute merely requires a party to make a threshold showing of merit, but does not address whether the claim can actually be proven.

 A copy of Singer v. Emeritus Senior Living Center can be found here – Singer v. Emeritus Senior Living Center

For additional information concerning comprehensive life care planning, visit: