JOHN A. CURRAN III, ADMINISTRATOR (ESTATE OF LEEANN CURRAN), et al. v. SHERRY L. KROLL et al., SC 18585
Judicial District of Hartford
Medical Malpractice; Standard of Care; Whether Plaintiff's Evidence was Sufficient to Support a Reasonable Inference that Decedent's Physician had Breached the Standard of Care by Failing to Warn Decedent of the Risks Associated with Taking Birth Control Pills. In 2002, the decedent, Leeann Curran, complained of suffering from menopausal symptoms during an office visit with her primary care physician, Sherry L. Kroll. To help alleviate those symptoms, Kroll prescribed birth control pills. Approximately one month later, the decedent died as a result of blood clots in her lungs. Thereafter, the plaintiff administrator of the decedent's estate initiated this medical malpractice action against Kroll and her medical office, alleging that Kroll was negligent in failing to warn the decedent of the symptoms associated with the risks of taking the prescribed birth control pills. After the plaintiff presented his evidence, the defendants filed a motion for a directed verdict, which the trial court granted on the ground that there was no evidence that Kroll had breached the standard of care. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court improperly granted the defendants' motion for a directed verdict. The Appellate Court (118 Conn. App. 401) agreed, determining that there was ample circumstantial evidence to support a reasonable inference that Kroll had not provided adequate warnings to the decedent in accordance with the proper standard of care. It explained that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, revealed that, just one month after the decedent's office visit with Kroll, she told her husband and her mother that she had been experiencing severe leg pain and that the cause of the pain was completely unknown to her. It also noted that, according to the evidence, the decedent failed to immediately seek medical assistance notwithstanding her feelings of severe pain. The court concluded that, from the foregoing evidence, the jury could have reasonably inferred that the decedent's lack of knowledge of the source of her pain, and her decision to not seek medical aid, resulted from Kroll's failure to inform her that birth control pills can cause the formation of life threatening blood clots and that severe leg pain requires immediate medical attention because it is a symptom associated with blood clots. It further emphasized that the jury could have drawn such an inference from the evidence that the decedent's computer generated patient file failed to state that Kroll had provided adequate warnings concerning the side effects of birth control pills. In light of the foregoing, the Appellate Court held that the trial court, instead of granting the defendants' motion for a directed verdict, should have submitted the case to the jury for its consideration. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court's decision was proper.