Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Georges v. OB-GYN Services, P.C.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court granting in part Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss Defendants' appeal from the judgment of the trial court rendered following a jury verdict in favor of Plaintiffs on certain medical malpractice claims and denied Defendants' motion to suspend the rules of practice to permit a late appeal, holding that the Appellate Court did not err.On appeal, Defendants argued that the Appellate Court erred in granting Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss the portion of the appeal challenging the jury's verdict as untimely and abused its discretion in denying their motion to suspend the rules of practice to permit a later appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Court correctly concluded that the appeal was untimely; and (2) the Appellate Court did not abuse its discretion or work injustice by determining that Defendants had failed to establish good cause for their failure to file a timely appeal. View "Georges v. OB-GYN Services, P.C." on Justia Law
Wolfork v. Yale Medical Group
In this medical malpractice action the Supreme Court dismissed this appeal insofar as Defendants challenged the subject matter jurisdiction of the trial court to open and vacate the final judgment of dismissal, holding that the substitute plaintiff had standing to move to open the judgment.The decedent, the eleven-year-old-son of Karla Wolfork and Damian Pisani, died while hospitalized. The probate court appointed Wolfork as the administratrix of the decedent's estate and Pisani as coadministrator. Wolfork, in her representative capacity, filed a medical negligence action against Defendants on behalf of the decedent's estate. The trial court later sua sponte dismissed the action pursuant to Practice Book 14-3 for failure to file a withdrawal of the action within the allotted time period. Pisani subsequently moved to open and vacate the judgment of dismissal, explaining that Wolfork had been removed as administratrix of the estate and that Pisani had been appointed sole administrator with the authority to handle all litigation. The trial court granted Pisani's motion, and Defendants appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal in part and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Pisani had standing to move to open the judgment of dismissal, and therefore, the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction to open and vacate the judgment. View "Wolfork v. Yale Medical Group" on Justia Law
Kos v. Lawrence + Memorial Hospital
In this medical malpractice case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Plaintiffs' motion to set aside the jury's verdict in favor of Defendants, holding that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the doctrine of acceptable alternatives, but the error was harmless, and Plaintiffs' request that the Court abolish the acceptable alternatives doctrine was denied.On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the trial court improperly instructed the jury by including a charge on the acceptable alternatives doctrine because no evidence supported the charge. Alternatively, Plaintiffs asked the Court to abolish the acceptable alternatives doctrine. The Supreme Court affirmed the jury's finding that Plaintiffs failed to establish that Defendants had breached the standard of care, holding (1) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the acceptable alternatives charge, but this instructional error was harmless; and (2) the trial court did not improperly limit Plaintiffs' allegations regarding breach of the standard of care in responding to the jury's request for clarification of the jury instructions. View "Kos v. Lawrence + Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law
Doe v. Cochran
In this case alleging negligence against a physician, the Supreme Court recognized a third-party cause of action for negligent misreporting of sexually transmitted disease (STD) test results, holding that a physician who mistakenly informs a patient that he does not have an STD may be held liable in ordinary negligence to the patient's exclusive sexual partner for her resulting injuries when the physician knows that the patient sought testing and treatment for the express benefit of that partner.Plaintiff sued Defendant, a physician, alleging that Defendant had been negligent by misreporting the STD test results of her sexual partner. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to strike, concluding that Defendant did not owe a duty of care to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant owed a duty of care to Plaintiff, even though she was not his patient. View "Doe v. Cochran" on Justia Law
Ashmore v. Hartford Hospital
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion for remittitur after a jury awarded $1.2 million in noneconomic damages to Plaintiff, as the administratrix of the decedent's estate, and $4.5 million to Plaintiff for her loss of spousal consortium, holding that a loss of consortium award ordinarily should not substantially exceed the corresponding wrongful death award to the directly injured spouse.After the jury returned its verdict, Defendant filed a motion seeking a remittitur of the loss of consortium award. The trial court denied the motion and rendered judgment in accordance with the jury verdict. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) absent exceptional or unusual circumstances, a presumption applies that a direct injury to one spouse is no less harmful than the concomitant loss of consortium suffered by the deprived spouse; and (2) the disproportionate loss of consortium award in this case was not justified. View "Ashmore v. Hartford Hospital" on Justia Law
Gagliano v. Advanced Specialty Care, P.C.
In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court held that the trial court properly determined that there was sufficient evidence from which the jury reasonably could have found that a surgical resident was an actual agent of of a hospital when he negligently performed a surgical procedure under the supervision of a member of the hospital’s clinical faculty, who was also Plaintiff’s private physician. Further, the Court that that imposing vicarious liability on the hospital for the surgical resident’s actions was not improper. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying the separate motions filed by the hospital and the surgical residents to set aside the verdict, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and remittitur. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the trial court’s judgment as to the hospital’s vicarious liability for the surgical resident’s negligence and otherwise affirmed. View "Gagliano v. Advanced Specialty Care, P.C." on Justia Law
Levin v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of Defendant following the grant of Defendant’s motion to strike, holding that an action authorized by the claims commissioner, limited to medical malpractice, may not survive a motion to strike where the plaintiff was not a patient of the defendant, as required by Jarmie v. Troncale, 50 A.3d 802 (2012).Plaintiff, administratrix of the estate of the decedent in this case, sought permission to bring an action against Defendant for medical malpractice based on mental health services and treatment given to Robert Rankin, who allegedly fatally stabbed the decedent. The claims commissioner granted Plaintiff permission to bring an action under Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-160(b), limited to medical malpractice. Plaintiff then brought this action. Defendant filed a motion to strike the complaint, arguing that Connecticut does not recognize medical malpractice claims brought by nonpatient third parties. The trial court granted the motion to strike and then rendered judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Jarmie prohibits an action, limited by the claims commissioner to medical malpractice, where the plaintiff was not a patient of the defendant; and (2) if Plaintiff’s action sounded in negligence, then the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. View "Levin v. State" on Justia Law
Pease v. Charlotte Hungerford Hospital
Plaintiff brought an action against a hospital and one of its employees for personal injuries allegedly sustained as a result of medical malpractice. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the hospital. The trial court ultimately awarded the hospital $5965 in expert fees and other costs. Five months later, the hospital filed a motion to hold Plaintiff in contempt of court, arguing that the award of costs was a court order and thus amenable to contempt and that Plaintiff had not paid any of the award costs. The court denied the hospital’s motion for contempt, concluding that, as a matter of law, it lacked the inherent authority to coerce compliance with an award of costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under ordinary circumstances such as those in this case, the court’s inherent contempt power is not an appropriate means of enforcing an award of costs or other monetary judgment. View "Pease v. Charlotte Hungerford Hospital" on Justia Law
Briere v. Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, P.C.
Plaintiff brought a cause of action against a practice group and an orthopedic surgeon (collectively, Defendants), alleging medical malpractice during a spinal surgery. After the expiration of the pertinent statute of limitations, Plaintiff sought to amend his complaint. Plaintiff’s original complaint included allegations of the improper usage of a skull clamp, but his proposed amended complaint included allegations of the improper use of a retractor blade. The trial court narrowly construed the original complaint as limited to a claim of the negligent usage of the skull clamp and denied Plaintiff’s request to amend. Because Plaintiff had abandoned the theory that negligent use of the skull clamp had caused his injury, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s request to amend, broadly construing the original complaint as a claim of negligence in performing the surgery, which could be supported by either set of factual allegations. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus denying Defendants’ request that the Court adopt the narrower approach used by the trial court. View "Briere v. Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, P.C." on Justia Law
Cefaratti v. Aranow
Plaintiffs filed suit against Jonathan S. Aranow, Shoreline, and Middlesex, alleging that Aranow had left a surgical sponge in plaintiff’s abdominal cavity during gastric bypass surgery. She further alleged that Middlesex was both directly liable for its own negligence and vicariously liable for Aranow’s negligence, and Shoreline was vicariously liable for Aranow’s negligence. At issue is whether plaintiff’s medical malpractice action is barred by the statute of limitations or, instead, the statute of limitations was tolled under the continuing course of treatment doctrine. The court concluded that, to establish that there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the continuing course of treatment doctrine tolled the statute of limitations, plaintiff was required only to present evidence that her abdominal discomfort was caused by the sponge and that she sought continuing treatment for her discomfort from Aranow. In this case, the court concluded that plaintiff has established that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the doctrine applies. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court that plaintiff’s action was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Cefaratti v. Aranow" on Justia Law