Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court applying the general negligence statute of limitations in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-584 to Plaintiffs' claims alleging medical negligence instead of the extended limitation period set forth in section 52-577d, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiffs were minor patients of Robert Rackliffe, a pediatrician practicing in the early 1970s to the 1980s. Plaintiffs alleged that Rackliffe sexually assaulted them during their annual physical examinations and that Rackliffe's conduct constituted medical negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 52-577d did not apply to Plaintiffs' claims sounding in negligence and that the negligence claims were governed by the limitation period set forth in section 52-584. View "Doe v. Rackliffe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court rendering summary judgment in favor of Defendant, as executor of the estate of Robert Rackliffe, on the ground that Plaintiffs' negligence claims were time barred, holding that the extended limitation period set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-577d did not apply to Plaintiffs' negligence claims for personal injuries brought against the alleged perpetrator of a sexual assault.Seven plaintiffs, each of whom were minors at the time of the alleged assaults, alleged that Rackliffe's conduct constituted both intentional sexual assault and medical negligence. Defendant sought summary judgment as to the counts sounding in negligence, arguing that those counts were time barred by Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-584. The trial court granted summary judgment as to all of the negligence counts. Plaintiffs subsequently withdrew their additional claims and appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' negligence claims were governed by the three-year limitation period set forth in section 52-584 and that section 52-577d did not apply to Plaintiffs' claims. View "Doe v. Rackliffe" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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