A True Whodunit
Medical malpractice cases are maddening. Discerning the responsible party can be complicated even in a “simple” medical malpractice scenario. For example, you go to a hospital for surgery. The doctor screws up in an obvious way. You are now a medical malpractice victim. The doctor and the hospital must make you whole.
Not so fast.
In August 2016, the Connecticut Appellate Court in Vivian Gagliano et. al. v. Advanced Specialty Care, P.C., Et. Al. (AC 37413) overturned a $12 million medical malpractice verdict. The Court described Ms. Gagliano’s injuries from the relatively simple hernia surgery:
sixty-nine days in the hospital recovering from the perforation. Eight months after the initial surgery and due to the perforated colon, the plaintiff required surgery to remove part of her large intestine, and, as a result of the procedure, she developed permanent digestive problems. The trial court stated in its memorandum of decision that the plaintiff has difficulty being away from the bathroom for any length of time, is regularly in pain, has significantly reduced stamina and is unable to walk more than one quarter of a mile.
What could the defense possibly argue on appeal? We know the doctor and the hospital. We know the surgery was botched. Therefore, we know who has to make things right.
Danbury Hospital argued Ms. Gagliano’s injury resulted from a resident who did not work for the hospital. The Appellate Court considered the contours of agency law and agreed. Essentially, the Court ruled that Danbury Hospital may have controlled the resident, but that there was no evidence that the Hospital had control over the resident’s actions in the surgical procedure.
Wait …. what?
Takeaway? The law is a complicated mess.
Sometimes even when you know who did it, you can’t always hold them responsible. None of this is to suggest that the attorney erred. The plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to convince a jury to award a multimillion dollar verdict to the injured woman.
This is to give a little insight that even the “simplest” medical malpractice case can be difficult to navigate.