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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court held that the trial court properly determined that there was sufficient evidence from which the jury reasonably could have found that a surgical resident was an actual agent of of a hospital when he negligently performed a surgical procedure under the supervision of a member of the hospital’s clinical faculty, who was also Plaintiff’s private physician. Further, the Court that that imposing vicarious liability on the hospital for the surgical resident’s actions was not improper. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying the separate motions filed by the hospital and the surgical residents to set aside the verdict, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and remittitur. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the trial court’s judgment as to the hospital’s vicarious liability for the surgical resident’s negligence and otherwise affirmed. View "Gagliano v. Advanced Specialty Care, P.C." on Justia Law

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In this habeas proceeding, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court holding that defense counsel’s delay in presenting to Petitioner a favorable plea offer from the prosecutor during trial amounted to deficient performance pursuant to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Petitioner was convicted of felony murder. Petitioner sought a writ of habeas corpus claiming that her trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance when he delayed presenting to her a favorable plea offer, an offer that the prosecutor later withdrew before it could be accepted. The habeas court agreed and concluded that Petitioner was prejudiced by counsel’s deficient performance. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, the habeas court and Appellate Court properly determined that counsel’s delay in conveying the plea offer to Petitioner amounted to deficient performance. View "Helmedach v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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At issue was the degree to which Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-470 constrains the discretion of the habeas court as to when it may act on the Commissioner of Correction’s motion for an order to show good cause why a habeas petition should be permitted to proceed when a petitioner has delayed filing the petition. In this case, the Commissioner filed a motion requesting the habeas court to order Petitioner to show cause why his untimely filed petition should be permitted to proceed. The court interpreted section 52-470 to deprive it of discretion to act on the motion prior to the close of all proceedings and thus took no action on the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 52-470(e) applied in this case and did not limit the discretion of the habeas court as to when it may act on a motion for an order to show cause why an untimely petition should be permitted to proceed; and (2) therefore, the habeas court erred in determining that it lacked discretion to act on the Commissioner’s order to show cause because the pleadings were not yet closed. View "Kelsey v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of Defendant following the grant of Defendant’s motion to strike, holding that an action authorized by the claims commissioner, limited to medical malpractice, may not survive a motion to strike where the plaintiff was not a patient of the defendant, as required by Jarmie v. Troncale, 50 A.3d 802 (2012). Plaintiff, administratrix of the estate of the decedent in this case, sought permission to bring an action against Defendant for medical malpractice based on mental health services and treatment given to Robert Rankin, who allegedly fatally stabbed the decedent. The claims commissioner granted Plaintiff permission to bring an action under Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-160(b), limited to medical malpractice. Plaintiff then brought this action. Defendant filed a motion to strike the complaint, arguing that Connecticut does not recognize medical malpractice claims brought by nonpatient third parties. The trial court granted the motion to strike and then rendered judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Jarmie prohibits an action, limited by the claims commissioner to medical malpractice, where the plaintiff was not a patient of the defendant; and (2) if Plaintiff’s action sounded in negligence, then the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. View "Levin v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether section 38a-334-6(c)(2)(B) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, which authorizes exclusions in insurance policies when the owner of the underinsured vehicle is a rental car company designated as a “self-insurer” by the Insurance Commissioner pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 38a-371(c), remains valid as applied to rental car companies in light of development in federal law. The insureds in this case, who were injured by an underinsured lessee driving a rental car owned by a self-insured rental car company, were denied underinsured motorist benefits under their policies because those policies contained a self-insurer exclusion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 38a-334-6(c)(2)(B) of the regulations is invalid as applied because it conflicts with the public policy manifested in Conn. Gen. Stat. 38a-336(a)(1) that requires insurance policies to provide underinsured motorist coverage. View "Tannone v. Amica Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court granting the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s administrative appeal from the Commission’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss an employment discrimination complaint brought by a former female employee, holding that the Commission’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss was not an immediately appealable order. A former female employee of Plaintiff, a religious school, filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that Plaintiff had wrongfully terminated her employment on the basis of her sex, marital status, and pregnancy. Plaintiff moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing it was immune from employment discrimination actions under the ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws. The Commission denied Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff appealed. The trial court granted the Commission’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that Plaintiff had failed to make a colorable claim of immunity under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-571b(d) and, therefore, the Commission’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the employment discrimination complaint was not an immediately appealable order. View "Trinity Christian School v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities" on Justia Law

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At issue in this divorce case was whether a property award based on a criminal conviction that was later reversed must also be reversed. Wife sought dissolution of her marriage to Husband after Husband allegedly assaulted her. While the dissolution action was pending, Husband was convicted of criminal offenses stemming from the alleged assault. While Husband’s appeal from the criminal conviction was pending, the dissolution trial began. During the trial, the court allowed Wife to present evidence of the criminal conviction. Based solely on the evidence of that conviction, the court ruled that Husband was exclusively responsible for the marital breakdown and entered a property division award heavily favoring Wife. Thereafter, the Appellate Court reversed the judgment of conviction in the criminal case. The Supreme Court held (1) the reversal of Husband’s criminal conviction deprived that judgment of any preclusive effect it may have had in the dissolution action; and (2) the property division award, which was premised exclusively on the fact of Defendant’s conviction, must also be reversed. View "Shirley P. v. Norman P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that even assuming, without deciding, that the performance of Appellant’s trial counsel was deficient, Appellant failed to prove prejudice, and therefore, Appellant could not prevail on his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Appellant was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a child. Appellant’s conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. Appellant later filed an amended habeas petition alleging that Petitioner’s trial counsel and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance. The habeas court concluded that trial counsel and appellate counsel rendered deficient performance and that Appellant satisfied his burden of demonstrating prejudice. On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings on the question of whether the deficient performance of Appellant’s trial counsel resulted in prejudice. The Supreme Court reversed insomuch as the case was remanded, holding that Appellant was not prejudiced by any alleged deficient performance of his trial counsel, and therefore, Appellant could not prevail on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "Hickey v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs, complainants in attorney disciplinary proceedings, were neither statutorily nor classically aggrieved by certain decisions of the Fairfield Grievance Panel and the Stamford-Norwalk Grievance Panel dismissing Plaintiffs’ grievance complaints against five attorneys and by other actions of the Statewide Grievance Committee with respect to proceedings against two other attorneys. While the grievance proceedings were pending, Plaintiffs brought this action seeking a writ of mandamus and injunctive relief claiming that Defendants improperly handled Plaintiffs’ grievance complaints against the seven attorneys. The trial court dismissed this action for lack of standing. The Supreme Court adopted the trial court’s “concise and well reasoned decision” as a statement of the facts and the applicable law on the issues and affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in concluding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to seek court intervention in the attorney disciplinary proceedings. View "D'Attilo v. Statewide Grievance Committee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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At issue was the extent of an employer’s right to a credit against its obligation to pay workers’ compensation benefits for an injured employee who has recovered damages from a third-party tortfeasor that caused the employee’s injuries. Under an amendment to Conn. Stat. 31-293(a), even if the employer is owed more than is recovered in the third-party action, the employee retains one-third of the proceeds for her sole benefit. In dispute was whether the employer has a right to a setoff against its obligation to pay for post-judgment workers’ compensation benefits until those benefits exceed the one-third portion that the employee received from the proceeds of the third-party action. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the decision of the workers’ compensation commissioner that the defendant employer was entitled to a “moratorium,” or the credit afforded the employer against any later arising benefits in the amount of any proceeds the employee received in the third-party action. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the employee’s one-third portion is not subject to the moratorium because the application of the moratorium to the one-third reduction would conflict with and undermine the purpose of P.A. 11-205, which amended section 31-293(a). Moreover, the legislature intended for the employee alone to retain the benefit of the one-third reduction. View "Callaghan v. Car Parts International, LLC" on Justia Law