Jarmie v. Troncale
A physician who failed to advise an unaware patient of the potential driving risks associated with her underlying medical condition, owed no duty to the victim of the patients unsafe driving because of the failure to advise his patient. Dr. Frank Troncale treated Mary Ann Ambrogio for various ailments including hepatic encephalopathy, but failed to warn her of the latent driving impairment associated with her condition. While driving from Troncales office, Ambrogio blacked out and struck John Jarmie causing him severe permanent injuries. Jarmie brought an action against Troncale and his employer, Gasteroenterology Center of Connecticut, P.C., based on Troncales failure to warn Ambrogio of the driving risks associated with her condition. The trial court granted the defendants motion to strike the complaint ruling that a third party is categorically barred from bringing an action against a physician for professional negligence and that Troncale owed no duty to the plaintiff to warn Ambrogio of the driving risks. The plaintiff appealed. The majority of the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. The majority reasoned that the trial court properly considered, as two separate issues, whether the complaint was legally insufficient under Connecticut medical malpractice law, as the defendant asserted, and whether Troncale owed a duty to the plaintiff under common-law principles of negligence, as the plaintiff contended. The majority agreed with the trial court that the complaint, characterized as sounding in medical malpractice, was legally insufficient because it contained no allegations that the plaintiff and Troncale had a physician-patient relationship as required under Connecticuts medical malpractice law. Under C.G.S. §52-190a, a cause of action alleging medical malpractice must be brought by a patient against a health care provider. Secondly, the majority concluded, as a matter of law, Troncale owed no duty to the plaintiff because Connecticut precedent did not support it, the plaintiff was an unidentifiable victim, public policy considerations counseled against it and there is no consensus among courts in other jurisdictions which have considered the issue. The common law, reflecting the goals of the tort reform movement and the legislatures purpose in enacting C.G.S. §52-190a, likewise disfavors the imposition of liability on health care providers. Justice Eveleigh, with whom Justice Harper joined, dissented, concluding that the complaint stated a cause of action for negligence.