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MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: Supreme Court holds hospital vicariously liable for physician

The Supreme Court holds that under an apparent agency theory, a hospital may be legally responsible for the negligence of a physician regardless of whether the doctor was an actual employee of the hospital.  The plaintiff claimed that she had a gastric bypass surgery performed at the hospital by a physician who allegedly negligently failed to remove a surgical sponge during the procedure.

In the lower court, the hospital moved for summary judgment, arguing that the physician was not an employee of the hospital and that the hospital could not be liable since Connecticut did not recognize a cause of action based on a theory of apparent agency.  The Superior Court entered summary judgment, and the Appellate Court affirmed the Superior Court judgment.  The Supreme Court reverses, sending the case back to the Superior Court to allow the plaintiff to attempt to plead and prove an apparent agency theory, including the requirement that the plaintiff prove that she detrimentally relied on her belief that the surgeon was an agent or employee of the hospital.

Cefaratti v. Aranow, SC 19443 (June 14, 2016)