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Jury's decision favors deceased Connecticut man's estate


Medical malpractice cases in Connecticut, including those in New Haven, may stem from misdiagnosis, doctor error or hospital negligence. When medical negligence results in the avoidable death of a patient or others, however, that incident may necessitate a wrongful death lawsuit.

For example, a jury just recently decided that a former physician and his employers were legally responsible for the death of a Connecticut man in a murder-suicide incident in 2009. The man shot himself in the head after killing his wife in their Vernon home, located northeast of New Haven, on June 29, 2009. The jury awarded $8 million to the man's estate.

The man's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the physician and three medical groups that employed the doctor. The claim alleged that the doctor failed to accurately diagnose the man's mental state or identify his suicidal tendencies. The case also charged that the doctor did not perform a proper psychological and psychiatric evaluation of the patient. Nor did the doctor refer his patient to a mental health professional for treatment of his serious mental condition.

The doctor accused in the wrongful death lawsuit reportedly surrendered his medical license late in 2012.

A person's mental health can affect that person's judgment and behavior, which is why doctors should properly diagnose and treat people suffering from a serious mental condition. If a doctor fails to do so, incidents caused by the patient's mental disorder could be the doctor's liability.

The doctor's employer could also be held liable based on the Respondeat Superior Doctrine, which holds employers responsible for the negligent acts of employees, provided the employee was operating within the confines of his or her employment. This is significant to plaintiffs in Connecticut medical malpractice cases. Holding an employer liable may also guarantee that someone will be financially responsible for the damages suffered by the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case.

Source: Fox CT, "Jury Awards $8 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit," Laurie Perez, Jan. 9, 2014

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