OMAR EARLINGTON, JR., et al. v. ANTHONY ANASTASI et al., SC 18042/18044
Judicial District of Hartford
Negligence; Medical Malpractice; Whether Defendants are Entitled to New Trial Because Jury Considered Specifications of Negligence that were not Properly Before It; Whether Jury's Findings were Inconsistent; Whether Economic Damages Award was Excessive. The plaintiffs brought this medical malpractice action, seeking to recover damages that they incurred due to the defendants' negligence during the birthing process of the minor plaintiff Omar Earlington, Jr. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants breached the applicable standard of care in that they (1) improperly assessed the mother for risk factors of shoulder dystocia and/or pelvic adequacy, (2) failed to recognize that the mother had a small pelvis, (3) failed to perform clinical pelvimetry during labor, (4) improperly evaluated the minor plaintiff's size in utero, (5) improperly used a vacuum extractor for an attempted delivery, (6) failed to perform a timely caesarean section, (7) applied excessive traction, pressure and/or torsion to the minor plaintiff following the occurrence of a shoulder dystocia, and (8) failed to maintain proper medical records. The jury interrogatories originally prepared at trial included all eight specifications of negligence. By agreement of the parties, the interrogatories were revised to exclude allegations 2 and 8, and to remove the reference to "pressure and/or torsion" from allegation 7, because of a lack of evidence to support the allegations. The defendants argued that allegations 3 and 4 should also be removed for lack of evidentiary support, but the trial court disagreed. Despite the revisions, the original interrogatories containing all eight specifications of negligence were erroneously submitted to the jury. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, awarding them $1,588,000 for economic damages and $1,000,000 for non-economic damages. The interrogatories showed that the jury found the defendants negligent for improperly using a vacuum extractor, applying excessive traction, pressure and/or torsion, and failing to maintain proper medical records. The interrogatories also showed that the jury found that the minor plaintiff's injuries were proximately caused by the negligence of the defendants in improperly using the vacuum extractor and applying excessive traction, pressure and/or torsion but not by the defendants' failure to keep proper medical records. The defendants appeal from the judgment, claiming that they are entitled to a new trial because (1) the jury considered specifications of negligence that were not properly before it; (2) it was inconsistent for the jury to find that the defendants were negligent in improperly using the vacuum extractor for attempted delivery of the minor plaintiff but failing to find that the defendants were negligent in failing to perform a timely caesarean section; and (3) the economic damages award is excessive.