Connecticut woman wins $12M in malpractice case

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A jury in a medical malpractice case awarded $12 million Friday to a Connecticut woman who said a doctor punctured her colon during a routine hernia operation, leaving her with permanent injuries.

Vivian Gagliano, 65, of Redding, said the surgical mistake at Danbury Hospital in 2008 sent her into a monthlong coma, led to a massive abdominal infection and multiple other surgeries and resulted in the loss of most of her large intestine.

Jurors in Danbury Superior Court handed down the award Friday after about 3½ hours of deliberations.

Danbury Hospital spokeswoman Andrea Rynn said in a statement that hospital officials disagree with the verdict and are considering an appeal.

“This verdict is an unfortunate example of the litigious environment in health care that hinders progressive reform and affects our ability to reduce health care costs for those we serve,” the statement said.

Gagliano sued the hospital and two doctors, Venkata Bodavula and Joseph Gordon, in 2010.

Gagliano’s attorney, Joshua Koskoff, said Bodavula was the one who perforated her colon, and he was a surgical resident at the time. Koskoff said Gagliano didn’t know a surgical resident would be taking part in her operation. Bodavula on Friday denied Koskoff’s allegations and said Gordon was responsible.

The doctors didn’t realize that Gagliano’s colon was punctured until after they had closed the surgical wound and she developed a massive abdominal infection, Koskoff said. She went into septic shock, had a heart attack, her organs began failing and she went into a coma, he said.

Bodavula, now a hand surgeon in St. Peters, Missouri, near St. Louis, said he helped Gordon begin a procedure on Gagliano, but he wasn’t the one who punctured her colon.

“It’s unbelievable,” Bodavula said about the allegations against him. “I was just a resident in training.”

Gordon settled claims against him before the trial, court records show. The terms of the settlement weren’t immediately available. A message seeking comment was left for Gordon on Friday.

Gagliano still can’t properly digest food and she continues to have abdominal problems that hinder her movement, Koskoff said.

Koskoff said hospital lawyers argued the hospital wasn’t responsible for the acts of a surgical resident, Gordon was.

“We hope that Danbury Hospital gets the message that being a teaching facility carries with it the responsibility of insuring that patient safety comes first,” Koskoff said. “We expect that Danbury Hospital will take responsibility for its own residents. That’s the expectation of the public. That’s the expectation of the Gaglianos.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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