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Connecticut Supreme Court upholds $12 million ruling in medical malpractice suit

State Supreme Court

By Chandra Lye | Aug 21, 2018

Medical malpractice 09

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) – The Connecticut Supreme Court has overturned part of an Appellate Court decision in a $12 million medical malpractice case.

The Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court's decision regarding the hospital's liability and remanded the case back to the trial court with the direction to affirm the trial court judgment. The ruling was released Aug. 14.

Plaintiff Vivian Gagliano and her husband originally filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after her colon was perforated during hernia repair surgery at Danbury Hospital. Resident Venkata Bodavula had been assigned to assist Gagliano’s physician, Dr. Joseph Gordon, with the procedure and were named as defendants.

A jury trial found in favor of the plaintiffs citing that the resident had been an agent of the hospital when the injury happened and the plaintiffs were awarded more than $12 million. However, the hospital appealed, saying there was insufficient evidence that the resident was one of its agents during the surgery. 

The Supreme Court decision noted that the Appellate Court overturned the lower court ruling and sided with the defendants, “concluding that the evidence had not established that there was an understanding between (Bodavula) and the hospital that the hospital would be in control of (Bodavula)’s performance during the surgery, and that the evidence established that only (Gordon) controlled (Bodavula)’s performance.”

However, the Supreme Court overturned a portion of the Appellate Court decision with regards to the evidence for the resident being an agent of the hospital.

“The totality of the evidence, including the hospital’s house staff manual, witness testimony and the patient consent form that (Vivian Gagliano) signed, when considered in light of the trial court’s charge to the jury on agency, provided a sufficient basis for the jury to conclude that the hospital had the general right to control (Bodavula) as a resident, such that he was the hospital’s actual agent prior to and during the course of (Vivian Gagliano)’s surgery,” the decision stated. 

“We conclude that the trial court properly determined that there was sufficient evidence to establish such an agency relationship, and that imposing vicarious liability on the hospital for Bodavula’s actions was not improper,” Justice Andrew McDonald wrote in the decision. 

Gagliano’s surgery took place in July 2008 and the jury trial took place in May 2014. The plaintiffs had previously settled with Gordon and Advanced Specialty Care PC for an undisclosed amount before the trial, the ruling stated.

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