Connecticut Supreme Court Adjusts Prior Decision on Med Mal Claims

The plaintiff, Shane J. Carpenter, filed the lawsuit against dentist Bradley J. Daar and Shoreline Modern Dental after the defendant allegedly failed to diagnose and treat an infection in the plaintiff’s tooth during a root canal…, New Case Law: Connecticut Supreme Court Adjusts Prior Decision on Med Mal Claims, Emily Cousins, February, 2023


As a result, the plaintiff experienced an infection in his mouth, throat, face and neck, which required emergency medical care, hospitalization, oral and neck surgery, and further dental treatment.


The plaintiff attached a good-faith certificate, or an opinion letter, which was a “written and signed opinion from a similar health care provider stating that there appears to be evidence of negligence by the defendants, a violation of the standard [of] care.”


The author of the opinion letter was Charles S. Solomon, an endodontist, whom the plaintiff argued was a similar provider to Daar because the defendant had represented himself as an endodontist on his website. However, Daar claimed in an affidavit that he is a general dentist, not an endodontist.


The trial court found that, under the General Statutes §52-184c, Solomon was not a similar provider to Daar, and dismissed the case.  The appellate court upheld the trial court’s judgment.


The Supreme Court reversed the judgment for further proceedings, finding that “Solomon was a similar health care provider to Daar under the broadly and realistically read allegations in the complaint.”


But the court did not stop there, and proceeded to consider “which [of] our case law, most significantly, [Winston] Morgan v. Hartford Hospital, has resulted in the deviation of Connecticut’s good faith opinion letter statute, General Statutes § 52-190a,”.


“Having received supplemental briefing on this issue … we conclude that Morgan was wrongly decided on this point,” the opinion said. “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. … 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.”


The court concluded that Morgan should be overruled “to the extent that it holds that the opinion letter implicates the court’s personal jurisdiction.”


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