Sep 24 2018

Courtroom Success 2018-35: Morrison Mahoney Partner Tom Anderson and Associate Kyle Deskus

The plaintiffs had appealed the prior dismissal of their case wherein they sued three internists, alleging that they were negligent in failing to diagnosis a retroperitoneal hematoma that required surgical intervention.  In violation of Connecticut law, the plaintiffs attached an expert opinion letter to their complaint from a general surgeon rather than an internist, depriving the Trial Court of personal jurisdiction.  To excuse this inconsistency on appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the defendants were diagnosing and treating a condition that was outside their area of specialty.

The Appellate Court rejected this, stating “[t]he plaintiffs overlook . . . that a broad specialty such as internal medicine often overlaps with other medical specialties.  Under the plaintiffs’ argument, there likely never would be a situation where a physician’s treatment of a patient falls within the specific specialty of internal medicine, as physicians who are board certified in that specialty are often called upon to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that could fall within a variety of medical specialties.” 

Importantly, this decision held for the first time that trial courts can and should look at evidence outside a plaintiff’s complaint in deciding such motions to dismiss medical malpractice actions.