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$58,000,000 Awarded to a boy who suffers from profound brain injuries and episodes of seizures

Case: D’Attilo v. Dr. Viscarello and Maternal-Fetal Care

Parties:
Plaintiff (Appellee) - Cathy D’Attilo
Defendant (Appellant) - Dr. Richard Viscarello and Maternal-Fetal Care, P.C.

Court: Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk

Procedural History

In February 2003, Daniel D’Attilo suffered severe brain injuries during his birth.  These injuries resulted in cerebral palsy.  Daniel, 8 years old, cannot walk, talk, feed himself, stand, or sit up.  He also suffers from seizures.

Summary of Facts

The defendants undertook the care, treatment, monitoring, diagnosing and supervision of Plaintiff Cathy D'Atillo, for pregnancy, labor, delivery and post delivery care.  After her child was born with cerebral palsy the Plaintiff brought suit alleging that the injuries sustained by the infant plaintiff were caused by the defendants in that they “failed to adequately and properly care for, treat, diagnose, monitor and supervise Cathy D'Atillo, during pregnancy, labor, delivery and post-natally.  Further, Plaintiff alleges that the defendants failed to adequately and properly advise Cathy D'Atillo of the risks, hazards and complications of delivery.

Outcome at Trial

The jury found Dr. Viscarello liable for his failure to perform a timely cesarean section on Daniel’s mother. The jury awarded Daniel and his family $58 million.

Issues on Appeal

Defendants appeal to strike two of Plaintiff’s complaint alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress of a third party bystander arising out of the medical malpractice. Counts two and five of the Plaintiff’s complaint allege that the defendants knew or should have known that their conduct involved an unreasonable risk of causing emotional distress and that the distress might result in illness or bodily harm. Further, Plaintiff alleges that it was foreseeable that the defendant's conduct would cause emotional distress; that it did cause emotional distress and that the results include painful, serious and permanent conditions. The allegations relied upon to support the claim of emotional distress are those regarding negligence as to the care of infant Daniel D'Atillo. By incorporating the allegations of negligence perpetrated upon the infant, plaintiff makes a claim for bystander emotional distress.

Appellate Court Holdings

Defendants’ motion to strike was granted, thus striking Plaintiff’s counts for negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, the jury verdict allocated for defendants’ negligence would still lie.

Relevant Application of Law

The Court held that no claim for bystander emotional distress would lie in the medical malpractice context pursuant to Maloney v. Conroy, 208 Conn. 392, 545 A.2d 1059 (1988).

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