PHILIP FILIPPELLI III et al. v. SAINT MARY'S HOSPITAL et al., SC 19148

Judicial District of Waterbury

 

†††† †Medical Malpractice; Whether Plaintiff Properly Precluded from Impeaching Credibility of Defendant Doctor and his Expert Through use of an Academic Journal Article; Whether Plaintiff Properly Precluded from Exploring Claim that Doctorís Expert Lied About his Relationship with the Doctor. The plaintiff brought this medical malpractice action seeking to recover for injuries he claimed resulted from the defendant doctorís failure to timely diagnose and treat compartment syndrome.† Judgment entered on a jury verdict in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed, challenging several of the trial courtís evidentiary rulings.† The Appellate Court (141 Conn. App. 594) affirmed the judgment, rejecting the plaintiffís claims that the trial court misapplied the learned treatise doctrine in precluding him from using an article in an academic medical journal to impeach the defendantís credibility and that of the defendantís expert witness.† In finding no abuse of discretion in the refusal to admit the article for the purpose of impeaching the defendant, the Appellate Court noted, among other things, that the plaintiff had adequate opportunity at trial to present evidence regarding the defendantís credibility.† The Appellate Court also affirmed the trial courtís rulings preventing the plaintiff from cross-examining the defendantís expert witness concerning alleged misrepresentations he made under oath at his deposition.† Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the expert was lying when he testified that he could not recall having seen the defendantís name anywhere other than in medical records in the course of his medical practice.† The plaintiff had sought to present evidence that the expert had testified in other medical malpractice actions brought against the defendant.† The Appellate Court found that the trial court properly determined that evidence regarding other malpractice claims against the defendant was inadmissible because it was more prejudicial than probative.† Finally, the Appellate Court rejected the plaintiffís claim that the trial court wrongly refused to allow him to make an offer of proof regarding the defendantís expertís having served as an expert for the defendant in other medical malpractice actions.† While conceding that the trial court should have permitted the plaintiff to make an offer of proof, the Appellate Court deemed the error harmless because the trial court allowed the plaintiff to argue extensively the legal basis on which he sought to present evidence of other malpractice actions in which the expert testified on behalf of the defendant.† The Supreme Court granted the plaintiff certification to appeal, and it will consider whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the rulings preventing the impeachment of the defendant and his expert witness through the academic journal article and preventing cross-examination of the expert witness concerning alleged misrepresentations made under oath at his deposition.† The Supreme Court will also decide whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the trial courtís error in preventing the plaintiff from making an offer of proof concerning the defendantís expert witnessí credibility was harmless.