Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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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

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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

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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

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The named plaintiff, Michele DiLeito, commenced this medical malpractice action against Defendants. The jury found Defendants liable and awarded $5,200,000 plus interest to the substitute plaintiff, LiDeito's bankruptcy trustee. The Supreme Court affirmed except with respect to the amount of interest awarded. The trustee subsequently filed a motion for postjudgment interest pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 37-3b. Thereafter, DiLieto was substituted as plaintiff. The trial court denied the motion, determining at DiLieto had failed to demonstrate Defendants wrongfully detained money payable to her under the judgment. DiLieto appealed, arguing that the trial court should not have applied the wrongful detention standard of Conn. Gen. Stat. 37-3a in declining to award postjudgment interest under section 37-3b. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that although the trial court properly determined that the same standard applies to an award of interest under section 37-3a as an award for interest under the version of section 37-3b in effect before the 1997 amendment, the standard the court actually applied was incorrect, as, under both provisions, a plaintiff who obtains a judgment is entitled to interest when the trial court determines under its discretion that such an award would be fair and equitable. Remanded. View "DiLieto v. County Obstetrics & Gynecology Group, P.C." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought two separate actions alleging that Hazel Smart died as a result of a defective catheter used in her dialysis treatment at Greater Waterbury Gambro HealthCare. The trial court consolidated the two actions, which brought claims sounding in negligence, medical malpractice, loss of consortium, and products liability. During pretrial proceedings, the trial court imposed monetary sanctions on Plaintiffs for failure to comply with a discovery order. Plaintiffs appealed. The appellate court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the trial court's discovery order was not an appealable final judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court properly dismissed the appeal, as the trial court's order did not constitute an appealable final judgment. View "Incardona v. Roer" on Justia Law

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Decedent admitted herself to Hospital for treatment for major depression and personality disorder. At the time of her admission, Decedent was diagnosed with high suicide ideation and had previously attempted suicide. One week later, Decedent committed suicide at Hospital. Plaintiff, the executor of Decedent's estate, filed a medical malpractice action against Hospital and Decedent's treating psychiatrist. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants. The appellate court remanded the case for a new trial, concluding that the trial court improperly declined to the poll the jury to determine whether any of the jurors had read an article regarding the subject matter of the case published prior to trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the appellate court improperly determined that the trial judge abused his discretion in declining to poll the jury. View "Kervick v. Silver Hill Hosp." on Justia Law

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Decedent commenced an action (first action) against Defendants, a hospital and two individuals, alleging that Defendants were negligent in failing to treat him for a lesion in his lung. Decedent died of cancer while the first action was pending. The trial court granted Defendants' motions to strike for failure to comply with Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-190a. Six weeks later, Plaintiff, Decedent's surviving spouse, commenced the present action alleging the same causes of action alleged against Defendants in the first action and seeking damages for wrongful death and loss of consortium. Defendants filed motions for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. The appellate court reversed based on res judicata, concluding that the first action was decided on its merits because a motion to strike is a judgment on the merits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the appellate court incorrectly concluded the trial court should have granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment on the basis of res judicata; but (2) the present action was time barred and was not saved by Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-592, the accidental failure of suit statute. View "Santorso v. Bristol Hosp." on Justia Law

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Physician diagnosed and treated Patient for various liver and kidney ailments but failed to warn her of the latent driving impairment associated with her condition. After leaving Physician's office, Patient blacked out while operating her motor vehicle and struck Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought an action against Physician and his employer (collectively, Defendants) for professional negligence. The trial court found in favor of Defendants, finding that Physician owed no duty to Plaintiff to warn Patient of the driving risks associated with her medical conditions. The Supreme Court affirmed, and in so doing, declined to extend a health care provider's duty through judicial modification, holding that the trial court properly found that Physician owed no duty to Plaintiff to advise or warn Patient of the latent driving impairment associated with her medical condition. View "Jarmie v. Troncale" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant, an obstetrician and gynecologist, contending that Defendant's failure to advise her that she should have her ovaries removed due to a family history of cancer resulted in her developing ovarian cancer. After a jury trial, the trial court found in favor of Plaintiff. Defendant appealed, arguing primarily that the trial court improperly permitted expert testimony and instructed the jury in a manner consistent with a claim of traditional medical negligence and asserting that Plaintiff's complaint necessarily sounded exclusively in informed consent rather than in medical negligence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, inter alia, that the trial court's decisions were proper because Plaintiff's complaint properly alleged medical negligence. View "Downs v. Trias" on Justia Law

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The named plaintiff (Plaintiff) in this case, through her parents and next friends, filed a medical malpractice action against, inter alia, state-run health facilities (State). The claims commissioner granted Plaintiff permission to sue the State after vacating an earlier decision dismissing Plaintiff's claim, and the trial court granted Plaintiff's motion to set aside the summary judgment rendered in favor of the State after the legislature amended Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-158 to authorize the commissioner to vacate a decision under certain conditions. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction and substantive authority to set aside its prior decision granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Nelson v. Dettmer" on Justia Law