Sargis v. Donahue
As stated in the 2006 Appellate Court case of Medes v. Geico Corporation, "it [is] the jury's task to determine the credibility of the witnesses, including experts, and to weigh the evidence." Cynthia Sargis commenced this medical malpractice action against Dr. Terrence Donahue and the New Britain Surgical Group, Inc., following complications from laparoscopic surgery, alleging that the defendants failed to observe, evaluate and treat her postoperative infection timely and adequately. Approximately five weeks after surgery, she underwent further surgery to remove mesh implanted in her abdominal wall that had become infected. Thereafter, she alleged she experienced pain, disfigurement and required additional surgery. Cynthia Sargis died of unrelated causes. The executive of her estate, Robert Sargis, Sr. was substituted as plaintiff. At the conclusion of trial, the jury rendered a general verdict for the plaintiff awarding $149,334. The court granted the defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict finding the plaintiff did not meet his burden of establishing proximate cause. On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that the court erred in applying an improper standard of proof for causation and improperly granted the defendants' motion. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment. Assuming, without deciding, that the court used an appropriate standard of proof, nevertheless, there was sufficient evidence of causation. It was undisputed that Donahue did not prescribe any antibiotics to treat the decedent's cellulitis until three weeks after he identified the possibility of cellulitis; instead he directed her to continue with an antibiotic more properly suited to treat an upper respiratory infection, the course of which was ending. The plaintiff's expert testified, inter alia, that "[b]ased upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty…the standard of medical care was breached because there was a failure to fully appreciate the patient's condition in the sense that she was developing an infection and [to] take the appropriate steps to eradicate the infection." Based on the expert's testimony, the jury reasonably could have found that the plaintiff met the burden of proof that the defendants had proximately caused the decedent's injuries by failing to diagnose and to treat her post operative infection in a timely and adequate manner. The case was remanded with direction to reinstate the jury's verdict and to render judgment for the plaintiff.