Gemme v. Goldberg

31 Conn. App. 527, 626 A.2d 318 (1993)

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Gemme v. Goldberg

Connecticut Appellate Court
31 Conn. App. 527, 626 A.2d 318 (1993)

  • Written by Liz Nakamura, JD

Facts

Karen Gemme (defendant) met with orthodontist Herbert Schreiber about correcting her overbite with orthodontia. After removing two of Gemme’s teeth to help with the discussed orthodontic correction, Schreiber then told Gemme for the first time that surgery would be required to fully correct the overbite. Schreiber referred Gemme to a surgeon, Morton Goldberg (plaintiff). Based on molds of Gemme’s teeth and the existence of a jaw deformity, Goldberg told Gemme she needed segmental surgery to correct the overbite and close the gaps in her teeth from the extractions. Goldberg informed Gemme that the segmental surgery would involve breaking Gemme’s upper and lower jaws in order to realign them. Goldberg only informed Gemme about the risk of minimal complications and did not inform her about the risk of bone and gum loss. Goldberg also failed to inform Gemme that her overbite could be corrected, albeit less-than-perfectly, with bridgework, which was a safer, nonsurgical option. Based on Goldberg’s factually incomplete presentation, Gemme consented to the segmental surgery. Due to complications from surgery, Gemme suffered bone and gum loss requiring additional surgery and extensive dental work. Gemme sued Goldberg for medical malpractice, arguing that he failed to inform her of the material risks of bone and gum loss from the surgery and failed to inform her about a viable alternative treatment option. Goldberg admitted that he failed to inform Gemme that bridgework was a viable alternative treatment option but argued that Gemme failed to demonstrate a causal relationship between the information he withheld and the harm she suffered. The trial court awarded Gemme damages against Goldberg, holding that Goldberg failed to obtain informed consent.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Heiman, J.)

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