Connecticut Appellate Affirms Dismissal of Complaint
Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-190a requires that a plaintiff attach to his complaint a good faith certificate from his attorney and a letter from a similar health care provider stating a belief that there is evidence of medical negligence. Failure to comply makes the complaint subject to a motion to dismiss.
Superior Court decisions interpreting the statute’s definition of “similar health care provider” have been divided with some holding that the qualifications of the similar health care provider must match those of the defendant, while others have held that there is no need for such a match.
In the first Appellate Court case to consider this issue directly, Bennett v. New Milford Hospital, et al.,a three judge panel affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of an action against an emergency room physician, where the similar health care provider, who authored a letter saying he had a belief that there was negligence, was a surgeon. In Bennett the Appellate Court held that it was bound by the plain meaning of the statute’s language. Further, while the court noted that in so doing it could be argued that the bar had been raised higher to initiate an action than to try it, the court found that it was not unworkable.
This decision will be useful and controlling precedent in cases involving claims against various types of health care providers. Based on Bennett, complaints will be subject to dismissal when the expert providing an opinion letter pursuant to Section 52-190a does not share the healthcare defendant’s qualifications or area of practice as defined by the statute.
Senior Partner Bruce F. Gilpatrick and Partner Matthew Sconziano of our Stamford office authored the brief, while Mr. Gilpatrick argued the appeal. Copies of the decision may be obtained on our website at www.hpmb.com or from the State of Connecticut Judicial Website. The official citation of the case will be available on October 13 when the decision is published in the Connecticut Law Journal.