The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Medical Malpractice Law Supreme Court Slip Opinions

by Agati, Taryn


SC20767, SC20768 - Manginelli v. Regency House of Wallingford, Inc. ("For approximately three and one-half years, the world has battled against the COVID-19 pandemic. As we explained in Casey v. Lamont, 338 Conn. 479, 258 A.3d 647 (2021), at the height of the pandemic, due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, "[a]round the country—indeed [around] the world—large segments of economic activity [had] been severely disrupted, if not fallen into collapse, millions of people [had] lost their employment, many hospitals and other health-care operations [had] been overrun by gravely ill and dying patients, and extraordinary lockdowns ordered by government officials, in an effort to abate the rate of infection . . . limited the free flow of personal and commercial activity." Id., 482. Addressing these issues, on March 10, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued a declaration of public health and civil preparedness emergencies, proclaiming a state of emergency throughout the state of Connecticut as a result of COVID-19. Then, on April 5, 2020, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7U, which he subsequently amended on April 7, 2020, by issuing Executive Order No. 7V, § 6, which provides, among other things, immunity from suit and liability to health care providers under certain circumstances relating to COVID-19.

In a companion case also decided today, we interpreted the scope of immunity afforded by Executive Order No. 7V as it related to acts or omissions undertaken in good faith by health care professionals and health care facilities while providing health care services in support of the state's COVID-19 effort. See Mills v. Hartford HealthCare Corp., 347 Conn. ___, ___ A.3d ___ (2023). In the present public interest appeal certified under General Statutes § 52-265a, we must determine the scope of this immunity as it particularly relates to acts or omissions undertaken because of an alleged lack of resources attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. On appeal to this court, the defendants, Regency House of Wallingford, Inc., and National Health Care Associates, Inc., claim that the trial court improperly denied their motion to dismiss the wrongful death claims filed by the plaintiff, Kimberly Manginelli, both in her individual capacity and as administratrix of the estate of Darlene Matejek. Specifically, the defendants argue that the trial court incorrectly determined that they had failed to establish that the immunity provided by Executive Order No. 7V applied to the alleged acts and omissions at issue. According to the defendants, the trial court's error was premised on its overly narrow interpretation of the order as applying only when the alleged acts and/or omissions involved the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 patients. We agree with the defendants that the trial court too narrowly construed the language of the order but nevertheless hold that the defendants failed to establish that the immunity afforded by that order applied in this case. Accordingly, on this record, we uphold the trial court's denial of their motion to dismiss.")

SC20763, SC20764, SC20765 - Mills v. Hartford HealthCare Corp. ("This court recently discussed the legality of certain executive orders issued by Governor Ned Lamont in response to the catastrophic effects of the pandemic caused by the spread of the potentially fatal coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). See Casey v. Lamont, 338 Conn. 479, 481–83, 258 A.3d 647 (2021). The present appeals require us to consider the scope and application of Executive Order No. 7V, issued by Governor Lamont in connection with his declaration of a public health emergency in March, 2020, which purports to confer immunity on health care professionals and health care facilities from suit or liability for any injury or death alleged to have been sustained because of acts or omissions undertaken in good faith while providing health care services in support of the state's COVID-19 response. We also must address similar questions with respect to 42 U.S.C. § 247d-6d, a provision in the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) that confers immunity from suit and liability for injuries sustained as the result of the application or use of certain pandemic countermeasures (e.g., COVID-19 diagnostic tests).

These issues arise in the context of a wrongful death action filed by the plaintiff, Kristen Mills, the daughter of the decedent, Cheryl Mills, and the executor of her estate. The complaint alleges that the decedent died after she was misdiagnosed as having a non-life-threatening heart condition, when she actually was suffering from a life-threatening heart condition. According to the complaint, her death was the result of negligent and grossly negligent medical care provided by the named defendant, Hartford HealthCare Corporation, doing business as Hartford Hospital (hospital), and the defendant physicians, Asad Rizvi, Melissa Ferraro-Borgida, Brett H. Duncan, and William J. Farrell. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that they were immune from suit and liability under Executive Order No. 7V and the PREP Act in light of the role that COVID-19 had played in their diagnosis and treatment decisions. The trial court concluded that the defendants had immunity under Executive Order No. 7V for the allegedly negligent acts and omissions undertaken before the receipt of the decedent's negative COVID-19 test result and immunity under the PREP Act for the allegedly grossly negligent acts and omissions undertaken during that same period. The court consequently granted the motions to dismiss the counts against Rizvi, Ferraro-Borgida, and Duncan. The court further concluded, however, that the only physician responsible for the decedent's care after receipt of the negative test result, Farrell, did not have immunity under either Executive Order No. 7V or the PREP Act. The trial court accordingly denied the motion to dismiss the counts alleging negligence and gross negligence against Farrell.

In SC 20765, the plaintiff appeals from the trial court's judgment insofar as it granted the defendants' motions to dismiss. In SC 20763 and SC 20764, Farrell and the hospital, respectively, appeal from the denial of their motions to dismiss. We disagree with the trial court's conclusions only insofar as it determined that the defendants were entitled to immunity under the PREP Act. We therefore reverse the trial court’s judgment dismissing counts V, VI, and VII of the complaint. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.")