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Medical Malpractice Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Booth, George


SC19576 - Briere v. Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, P.C. (Medical malpractice; "In this certified appeal, we are tasked with clarifying the contours of the relation back doctrine, specifically as applied to medical malpractice claims. The plaintiff, Donald Briere, brought a cause of action against the defendants, Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, P.C. (practice group), and David Kruger, an orthopedic surgeon, alleging medical malpractice during a spinal surgery resulting in the plaintiff suffering quadriparesis. After the expiration of the relevant statute of limitations, General Statutes ยง 52-584, the plaintiff sought to amend his complaint. Both the original and amended complaints included claims that Kruger failed to properly plan and to perform the surgery through the use of an instrumentality in his control. The plaintiff's original complaint, however, included detailed allegations of the improper usage of a skull clamp. In his proposed amended complaint, however, the plaintiff replaced those detailed allegations with allegations of the improper use of a retractor blade. The trial court denied the request to amend, narrowly construing the original complaint as limited to a claim of the negligent usage of the skull clamp and subsequently granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff had abandoned the theory that negligent use of the skull clamp had caused his injury. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court's denial of the plaintiff's request to amend, broadly construing the original complaint as a claim of negligence in performing the surgery, which could be supported by either set of factual allegations. Briere v. Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, P.C., 158 Conn. App. 66, 118 A.3d 596 (2015). The defendants advocate for this court to adopt the narrower approach used by the trial court and to reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court. We decline to do so and affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")