The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Medical Malpractice Law Supreme Court Slip Opinion

by Agati, Taryn


SC20524 - Carpenter v. Daar ("This certified appeal requires us to consider the extent to which our case law, most significantly, Morgan v. Hartford Hospital, 301 Conn. 388, 21 A.3d 451 (2011), has resulted in the deviation of Connecticut’s good faith opinion letter statute, General Statutes § 52-190a, from the legislature’s intention that it ‘‘prevent frivolous [medical] malpractice actions’’ but not ‘‘serve as a sword to defeat otherwise facially meritorious claims.’’ Wilkins v. Connecticut Childbirth & Women’s Center, 314 Conn. 709, 736 n.9, 104 A.3d 671 (2014). The plaintiff, Shane J. Carpenter, appeals, upon our grant of his petition for certification, from the judgment of the Appellate Court upholding the dismissal of his dental malpractice action against the defendants, Bradley J. Daar and his business entity, Shoreline Modern Dental, LLC (Shoreline). Carpenter v. Daar, 199 Conn. App. 367, 369–70, 405, 236 A.3d 239 (2020). On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that (1) because the opinion letter implicates the court’s personal jurisdiction, the trial court should not have considered an affidavit filed by the plaintiff to supplement a potentially defective opinion letter (supplemental affidavit) as an alternative to amending the operative complaint, and (2) the author of the opinion letter, Charles S. Solomon, an endodontist, was not a ‘‘similar health care provider,’’ as defined by General Statutes § 52-184c, to Daar, who is a general dentist. Our review of the plaintiff’s claims leads us to confront a more fundamental issue under § 52-190a, namely, whether this court correctly concluded in Morgan that the opinion letter requirement implicates the court’s personal jurisdiction for purposes of the procedures attendant to the motion to dismiss. See Morgan v. Hartford Hospital, supra, 401–402. Having received supplemental briefing on this issue; see footnote 2 of this opinion; we conclude that Morgan was wrongly decided on this point. We now hold that the opinion letter requirement is a unique, statutory procedural device that does not implicate the court’s jurisdiction in any way. We further conclude that, consistent with this court’s decision inBennett v. New Milford Hospital, Inc., 300 Conn. 1, 12 A.3d 865 (2011), for purposes of the motion to dismiss pursuant to § 52-190a (c), the sufficiency of the opinion letter is to be determined solely on the basis of the allegations in the complaint and on the face of the opinion letter, without resort to the jurisdictional fact-finding process articulated in, for example, Conboy v. State, 292 Conn. 642, 651–52, 974 A.2d 669 (2009). Because the opinion letter in the present case established that Solomon was a similar health care provider to Daar under the broadly and realistically read allegations in the complaint, we conclude that the plaintiff’s action should not have been dismissed. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court.")