A jury has ruled against the estate of an attorney who they found could have won a fatal medical malpractice case if he did not let the two-year statute of limitations run out.
After two hours of deliberation, the six-person jury in Hartford Superior Court rendered its verdict Thursday in favor of Tina Gonzalez, the mother of 25-year-old Peter Gonzalez. The amount of the settlement Gonzalez received against the estate of Enfield attorney David E. Marmelstein was subject to a pre-arranged confidential agreement reached between the parties prior to trial.
The amended complaint filed by the Hartford-based law firm RisCassi & Davis, on behalf of Tina Gonzalez, stated that her son died at Bristol Hospital in July 2010 from complications of a perforated appendix that had been left untreated “as the result of medical malpractice.” Peter Gonzalez had sought medical attention and advice from Med-Help, a walk-in center based in Bristol.
The complaint stated that Marmelstein “failed to timely and properly investigate and prepare the medical negligence claim to comply with Connecticut legal requirements.” Marmelstein died of a heart attack in October 2013, about 14 months after the statute of limitations expired. According to Christopher M. Houlihan of RisCassi & Davis, Marmelstein had little experience handling medical malpractice cases.
“This was a very unique case,” Houlihan told the Connecticut Law Tribune. “Legal malpractice is somewhat of a rare claim. But, underneath this is a case within a case. We actually had to put on two cases: medical malpractice and a legal malpractice case.” In the end, Houlihan said, the jury agreed that a medical malpractice case would have been won if it went to trial and that Marmelstein was at fault for not filing a claim prior to the statute of limitations expiring.
“He [Marmelstein] got involved in a case that would have been better served by another attorney,” Houlihan said.
Tina Gonzalez, Houlihan said, “is doing well. It’s obviously been a long and drawn out process. She should not have had this drag on for six years without a resolution. The fact that this is over and there is closure to her son’s death is satisfying to her and the rest of her family.”
Houlihan was joined by John J. Houlihan Jr. in representing the Gonzalez family.
Tom Anderson of the Hartford-based law firm Morrison Mahoney represented the Marmelstein estate. Anderson declined to comment on the verdict.