Kowalski v. Grove Hill Medical Center P.C.
In a medical-malpractice case, a court can award damages for past medical expenses, future medical expenses, loss of wages and pain and suffering. The plaintiff, Bernard Kowalski, left high school in 11th grade and does not have a high school degree or a G.E.D. He obtained work as a carpenter at Peters Construction, then left to start up his own construction company. In 2006, he went on a vacation with his wife in Mexico and experienced pain and swelling in his knee, which he previously had injured playing basketball as a teen. His knee was drained three times. When he returned to Connecticut, doctors at New Britain General Hospital advised the plaintiff to visit an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Robert Belniak performed a partial meniscectomy and repaired the ACL, then decided to place a screw in the femoral tunnel and allegedly lost the screw. Kowalski underwent a second surgery to retrieve the screw, and his knee became seriously infected. Kowalski had another surgery to remove the hardware in his knee. He was unable to work, and he closed his business. He did not resume physical relations with his wife, and they separated and divorced. The court credited Dr. Michael Rieber's testimony that Dr. Belniak departed from the standard of medical care both when he recommended the ACL surgery and when he decided to place a screw in the femoral tunnel. The court was not persuaded that Kowalski was completely disabled, because the defendant obtained a tape of Kowalski that showed the plaintiff power washing a house and lifting the power washing equipment, apparently without difficulty, into the back of a truck. The court awarded the plaintiff past medical expenses of $159,234 and future medical expenses, for a knee replacement, of $75,000. The court awarded $138,000 for loss of wages and $200,000 for pain and suffering, for a total of $572,234. The court also awarded the plaintiff's former spouse $20,000 for loss of consortium.