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Labissoniere v. Gaylord Hospital, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

June 5, 2018

GEORGE LABISSONIERE, COEXECUTOR (ESTATEOF ROBERT LABISSONIERE), ET AL.
v.
GAYLORD HOSPITAL, INC., ET AL.

          Argued February 8, 2018

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for the defendants' alleged medical malpractice, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland, where the court, Cobb, J., granted the defendants' motions to dismiss, and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiffs appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Keith A. Yagaloff, for the appellants (plaintiffs).

          Thomas O. Anderson, with whom were Kyle W. Deskus and, on the brief, Cristin E. Sheehan, for the appellees (defendant Eileen Ramos et al.).

          Michael G. Rigg, for the appellee (named defendant).

          Sheldon, Elgo and Harper, Js. [*]

          OPINION

          HARPER, J.

         This appeal arises out of a medical malpractice action brought by the plaintiffs, George Labissoniere and Helen Civale, coexecutors of the estate of Robert Labissoniere (decedent), against the defendants, physicians Moe Kyaw, Madhuri Gadiyaram, and Eileen Ramos (physicians), and their employer, Gaylord Hospital, Inc. (hospital). The plaintiffs appeal from the judgment of the trial court dismissing their amended complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that the court erred by (1) failing to apply the appropriate legal standard for a motion to dismiss, and (2) determining that the author of the plaintiffs' opinion letter was not a similar health care provider on the basis of their related claim that they had alleged that the defendants were acting outside of their medical specialty such that their conduct should be judged against the standard of care applicable to that specialty. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following undisputed facts and procedural history are relevant to our disposition of this appeal. The plaintiffs commenced this action against the defendants on April 28, 2015. In their original complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the decedent was admitted to the hospital on February 14, 2013, for medical care and rehabilitation following hip replacement surgery that had been performed at St. Francis Hospital. The plaintiffs alleged that while under the care of the physicians, the decedent suffered from a retroperitoneal hematoma, a postoperative condition that resulted in irreversible nerve damage, as well as hemorrhagic shock and multiorgan failure, requiring the decedent to be transferred back to St. Francis Hospital as an emergency admission on March 11, 2013.[1]

         In an attempt to comply with General Statutes § 52-190a (a), [2] the plaintiffs appended to their original complaint an opinion letter authored by David A. Mayer, a physician and general surgeon who was board certified in surgery. The physicians and the hospital subsequently filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Practice Book § 10-30 (a) (2). In their respective motions, the defendants argued that because Mayer was board certified in surgery and not internal medicine, he was not a ‘‘similar health care provider, '' as defined in General Statutes § 52-184c, [3] and, therefore, the court lacked personal jurisdiction over them.[4] Included with the defendants' motions were affidavits, [5] which established that the physicians are board certified in internal medicine and are not surgeons, that surgeries are not performed at the hospital, and that there are no surgeons on staff at the hospital.

         On November 20, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a request for leave to file an amended complaint together with a proposed amended complaint inwhich they alleged that the physicians were board certified in internal medicine and that the treatment and diagnosis of the decedent was within the medical specialty of surgery. The plaintiffs did not attach to their amended complaint a new or amended opinion letter, nor did they explicitly allege that the defendants had acted outside the scope of their specialty of internal medicine.

         The physicians and the hospital subsequently filed amended motions seeking dismissal of the plaintiffs' amended complaint. The defendants again alleged that Mayer was not a similar health care provider under § 52-184c. The plaintiffs objected, arguing that the physicians were acting as surgeons during their diagnosis and treatment of the decedent's retroperitoneal hematoma. Attached to their objection was Mayer's affidavit, in which he stated that the decedent's condition was a postoperative condition that required consultation with a surgeon. The plaintiffs argued that their amended complaint and Mayer's affidavit demonstrated that the decedent's condition was within the specialty of surgery and, therefore, that the physicians had acted outside the scope of their medical specialty and that Mayer was a similar health care provider under § 52-184c (c).

         During oral argument on the defendants' motions, the court asked the plaintiffs' counsel several times to identify where the plaintiffs had alleged that the defendants acted outside the scope of their specialty of internal medicine. The plaintiffs' counsel then cited multiple paragraphs from the amended complaint, which stated that the physicians are board certified in internal medicine and provided the decedent with treatment and diagnosis for a postoperative condition that was within the specialty of surgery. The court responded that the amended complaint ...


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