Lavern’s Law And Medical Malpractice In New York: Learn The Facts Here


Seven years ago a woman named Lavern Wilkinson when to a Kings County Hospital complaining of chest pain. She was sent home after a first-year resident said everything in her X-ray looked fine.

However, she wasn’t fine. After she started to have breathing problems, the doctors ascribed them to asthma. In 2012, the old X-ray was examined and they found what should have been noticed from the start, a small mass that may have been curable at the time the X-ray was taken. By the time the error was discovered however the small mass had developed into full-blown lung cancer which had spread to other organs.

Ms. Wilkinson did attempt to sue the Kings County Hospital for malpractice, but the statute of limitations had already passed. The time the statute of limitations began to run was when the error occurred, not when it was discovered. In an effort to prevent what happened to Ms. Wilkinson from happening to other victims of medical malpractice, attempts to pass legislation known as Lavern’s Law began.

In June a scaled down version of Lavern’s Law passed the New York Legislature giving more victims of misdiagnosed cancer the opportunity to have their day in court. The new law only provides to relief in cases that involve cancer rather than all victims of medical malpractice. The statute of limitations will now begin when the mistake is discovered by the patient, not when the error occurred.

A previous version of Lavern’s Law contained a one-year window to commence cases that are currently time-barred under the law. This provision did make it into the legislation that passed the Legislature. Unfortunately, this means that Lavern Wilkinson’s family will not benefit from the new law.

The Bill has not been delivered to Governor Cuomo yet.