Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Caverly v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the motion of the trial court denying the State's motion to dismiss this medical malpractice action on the basis of sovereign immunity, holding that the trial court did not err.James Caverly died while under the medical care of the employees of the John Dempsey Hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Plaintiff, administrator of the decedent's estate, brought a medical malpractice action against the State, doing business as UCONN Health Center/John Dempsey Hospital, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-160(b). The State filed a motion to dismiss the action, arguing that because Plaintiff had received a settlement payment from a joint tortfeasor in connection with the decedent's death. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that section 4-160b(a) applies only to subrogated or assigned claims and not to payments made by joint tortfeasors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly denied the State's motion to dismiss. View "Caverly v. State" on Justia Law
Riccio v. Bristol Hospital, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court concluding that the accidental failure of suit statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-592, did not save the otherwise time-barred action of Plaintiff, executrix of the estate of Theresa Riccio, holding that there was no error.The trial court concluded that Plaintiff's wrongful death action was time barred because her first medical malpractice action was dismissed due to her attorney's gross negligence for failing to file with the complaint legally sufficient medical opinion letters, as required by Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-190a(a) and two appellate court decisions interpreting section 52-190a(a). The appellate court dismissed the appeal, concluding that the action was time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that the omission of the experts' qualifications was egregious conduct rather than a matter of form or mistake. View "Riccio v. Bristol Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law
Fajardo v. Boston Scientific Corp.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendants in this action alleging that Boston Scientific Corporation's sale of its Obtryx Transobturator Mid-Urethral Sling System (Obtryx) violated the Connecticut Product Liability Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572m et seq., holding that there was no error.The named plaintiff alleged that the Obtryx, a transvaginal mesh sling implanted in women to treat stress urinary incontinence, injured her in various ways after it was implanted in her. Plaintiffs brought claims against Boston Scientific and the named plaintiff's gynecologist and medical practice, alleging violations of the Act, negligence sounding in informed consent, and misrepresentation. The trial court granted the medical defendants' motion for summary judgment. The case proceeded to trial against Boston Scientific, and the jury returned a verdict in its favor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not err in granting summary judgment for the medical defendants on the informed consent and misrepresentation claims; and (2) properly declined to instruct the jury on the reasonable alternative design prong of the risk-utility test. View "Fajardo v. Boston Scientific Corp." on Justia Law
Doe v. Rackliffe
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
Doe v. Rackliffe
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
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