Battle Over Bill to Extend Statute of Limitations for Lawsuits in Connecticut

The Hartford Courant recently reported that “There’s a battle unfolding at the state Capitol over a bill that would significantly change negligence law in Connecticut. Senate Bill 1028 would allow people who turn 18 to sue for personal injuries they suffered when they were minors and unable to sue in their own name. It would allow the recovery of damages caused by negligence, reckless misconduct and medical malpractice. The Connecticut State Medical Society, along with physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers, are mobilizing against the bill. The medical society has launched an advertising blitz against the measure this week. The effort includes radio spots, web ads and email alerts to members urging them to call lawmakers and press for rejection of the bill, which cleared the legislature’s last month and is now pending in the Senate. “There is little doubt that…Senate Bill 1028…will worsen the medical practice climate in Connecticut,” said Henry Jacobs, president-elect of the medical society. Jacobs said the state’s already-high malpractice insurance rates forced him to give up his obstetrics practice. “In a state where we struggle to attract and keep physicians, weakening an already frail liability system will only serve to drive our best and brightest physicians out of Connecticut,” Jacobs wrote in testimony provided to the judiciary committee. “Extending the statute of limitations for minors will only compound this problem.” The bill has the backing of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, which says that many childhood injuries cannot be properly evaluated within the time-frame that lawsuits are permitted under current law. “The state has effectively kept children from asserting lawful claims for legitimate injuries they have suffered merely because the injury was suffered before they were of the legal age to bring a claim,” the trial lawyers group said in written testimony to the judiciary committee. Current law allows generally limits a plaintiff’s ability to sue to within two years of discovery of the injury or within three years of complaining of the injury, except in cases of sexual abuse. Parents are permitted to sue on behalf of their minor children....

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Connecticut Hospital Ordered to Pay $12M in Medical Malpractice Case

A jury in a medical malpractice case awarded $12 million to a Connecticut woman who said a doctor punctured her colon during a routine hernia operation, leaving her with permanent injuries. Vivian Gagliano, 65, of Redding, Connecticut, said the surgical mistake at Danbury Hospital in 2008 sent her into a monthlong coma, led to a massive abdominal infection and multiple other surgeries and resulted in the loss of most of her large intestine. Jurors in Danbury Superior Court in Connecticut handed down the award after about 31/2 hours of deliberations. Danbury Hospital spokeswoman Andrea Rynn said in a statement that hospital officials disagree with the verdict and are considering an appeal. “This verdict is an unfortunate example of the litigious environment in health care that hinders progressive reform and affects our ability to reduce health care costs for those we serve,” the statement said. Gagliano sued the hospital and two doctors, Venkata Bodavula and Joseph Gordon, in 2010.Gagliano’s attorney, Joshua Koskoff, said Bodavula was the one who perforated her colon, and he was a surgical resident at the time. Koskoff said Gagliano didn’t know a surgical resident would be taking part in her operation. Bodavula last Friday denied Koskoff’s allegations and said Gordon was responsible. The doctors didn’t realize that Gagliano’s colon was punctured until after they had closed the surgical wound and she developed a massive abdominal infection, Koskoff said. She went into septic shock, had a heart attack, her organs began failing and she went into a coma, he said. Bodavula, now a hand surgeon in St. Peters, Missouri, near St. Louis, said he helped Gordon begin a procedure on Gagliano, but he wasn’t the one who punctured her colon. “It’s unbelievable,” Bodavula said about the allegations against him. “I was just a resident in training.” Gordon settled claims against him before the trial, court records show. Gagliano still can’t properly digest food and she continues to have abdominal problems that hinder her movement, Koskoff said. Koskoff said hospital lawyers argued the hospital wasn’t responsible for the acts of a surgical resident, Gordon was. “We hope that Danbury Hospital gets the message that being a teaching facility carries with it the responsibility of insuring that patient safety comes first,” Koskoff said. “We expect that Danbury Hospital will take responsibility for its own residents. That’s the expectation of the public. That’s the expectation of the Gaglianos.”...

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Wallingford Man Awarded $4.25 million in Medical Malpractice Suit Against MidState Doctor

The Record Journal Reports— A Wallingford man was awarded $4.25 million by a jury in New Haven court Wednesday as compensation for surgery at MidState Medical Center that left him with permanent nerve damage. It was later determined the surgery was performed unnecessarily. In December 2008, Gregory Leigh, 58, of Wallingford, sought treatment at MidState Medical Center for a mass in his neck. On Dec. 10, 2008, he suffered permanent nerve damage during a surgical procedure to remove the mass, according to a lawsuit Leigh filed suit in March 2011. He suffers permanent left shoulder pain due to damage to his spinal accessory nerve. He has not been able to work or use the left arm for any physical activity, the lawsuit states. Leigh was employed as a laborer PermaTreat Corporation in Durham at the time of the surgery. The lawsuit was filed against Daniel Schwartz, the doctor who performed the procedure, and MidState Medical Group, P.C. The hospital is owned by Hartford Healthcare. Schwartz and his attorney, Jonathan Kocienda, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. Hartford Healthcare Director of Media Relations Rebecca Stewart said the group is “committed to patient safety.” “It is at the heart of everything we do,” she said. “We are focused on the important work of improving patient safety and quality within our network and across the country.” After over four years of litigation, a six-person jury — three men and three women — awarded Leigh $4.25 million on Wednesday. According to court documents, the jury awarded Leigh $500,000 for pain and suffering and $500,000 for loss of enjoyment of life. He will also receive $1.625 million for future pain and suffering and $1.625 million for future loss of enjoyment of life’s activities. Judge Robin Wilson presided over the trial, which took nearly three weeks. Leigh was under the care of Schwartz from Dec. 4, 2008 until Feb. 24, 2009, the lawsuit states. Schwartz and other caregivers at the hospital failed to treat, diagnose, monitor and supervise Leigh for the mass on the left side of his neck, according to the lawsuit. It was later determined the mass was caused by Cat Scratch Disease, a bacterial infection that can result in the inflammation of the lymph glands. The infection could have been treated by antibiotics. “During the surgery to remove the lymph node, doctors caused permanent injury to (Leigh’s) shoulder. He now has nerve palsy, disfigurement of his arm and shoulder, cannot extend his left arm or raise it over his head, has permanent numbness and pain, and can no longer work at his job without considerable difficulty,” McElligott said. “It is clear that far too often, surgeons jump to perform surgery without properly considering less invasive options. http://www.myrecordjournal.com/wallingford/wallingfordnews/7461429-129/wallingford-man-awarded-425-million-in-medical-malpractice-suit-against.html...

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