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Supreme Court of Connecticut
October 28, 1999, Argued ; April 11, 2000, Officially Released
[**838] [*643] BORDEN, J. The defendant, Yale University, appeals 1 from the judgment of the trial court, rendered after a jury trial, in favor of the plaintiff, John Doe. 2 The defendant claims that: (1) the plaintiff's claim is not a cognizable cause of action because it is in effect a claim for educational malpractice; (2) the trial court improperly struck the defendant's special defense of exclusivity [***3] under the Workers' Compensation Act (act); General Statutes § 31-284 (a); 3 and (3) the trial court improperly [*644] instructed the jury that it could find the defendant liable [*645] on the basis of its own determinations [**839] of reasonableness, rather than on the basis of expert testimony. We agree with the second and third of these claims and, accordingly, we reverse the trial court's judgment.
[***4] The plaintiff brought this action against the defendant for alleged negligence in causing her to contract the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The trial court, Silbert, J., denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment, and struck the defendant's special defense [*646] of immunity under the act. Thereafter, the trial court, Pittman, J., rendered judgment on the verdict in favor of the plaintiff. 4
The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. At the time of the incident underlying this case, the plaintiff was a medical intern in the second month of her first year in the residency program 5 at Yale-New Haven Hospital (hospital), and a graduate student at the defendant, Yale University d/b/a Yale University School of Medicine.
[***5] To put the facts that follow in the proper context, we describe at the outset the incident [**840] that caused the plaintiff's injury and a brief summary of the procedure that she was performing at the time. The plaintiff sustained her injuries as a result of her attempt to perform an arterial line insertion during her rotation in the hospital's medical intensive care unit. An arterial line insertion requires the insertion of a hollow needle, called a stylet, and a catheter, which is a thin flexible tube, into a patient's artery in order to permit monitoring of the patient's blood pressure and to obtain samples of the patient's blood. If the artery is punctured by the needle, blood will flow into a clear plastic cap located at the top of the needle -- a result known as a flashback. If the catheter is inserted properly into the artery, blood [*647] will start to come out of the hub, the now-open end of the catheter, once the needle is withdrawn. A pressure transducer is then hooked up to the catheter.
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252 Conn. 641 *; 748 A.2d 834 **; 2000 Conn. LEXIS 123 ***
JOHN DOE v. YALE UNIVERSITY
Prior History: [***1] Action to recover damages for, inter alia, personal injuries allegedly caused by the negligence of the defendant, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven, where the court, O'Keefe, J., granted the motion filed by Yale-New Haven Hospital to intervene as a plaintiff and to file a complaint for reimbursement of workers' compensation benefits it had paid to the plaintiff, and where the court, Silbert, J., granted the plaintiff's motion to strike the defendant's special defense of immunity and denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment; thereafter, the matter was tried to the jury before Pittman, J.; verdict for the plaintiff; subsequently, the court, Pittman, J., granted the intervening plaintiff's motion for apportionment of damages and set off for future workers' compensation benefits, denied the defendant's motions to set aside the verdict, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, for a new trial and for a remittitur, and rendered judgment for the plaintiff against the defendant in accordance with the verdict and for the intervening plaintiff against the plaintiff in accordance with a stipulation filed by those parties, and the [***2] defendant appealed.
Disposition: Reversed; new trial.
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