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Lavoie v. Manoharan

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Britain, New Britain

August 7, 2015

Heather Lavoie nka Heather Reyes, Administratrix of the Estate of Michael Lavoie et al.
v.
Nachiyappan Manoharan, M.D. et al

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Cynthia K. Swienton, J.

The plaintiffs have brought suit against three defendants: Nachiyappan Manoharan, M.D., Bristol Hospital Multispecialty Group, Inc., Dr. Manoharan's employer, and The Bristol Hospital, Inc. The initial complaint dated October 27, 2014 was brought in three counts. Count one asserts a claim for medical malpractice against all the defendants and alleges that the defendants, their employees and/or agents, deviated from the prevailing standard of care by discharging Michael Lavoie without first admitting him for treatment, without considering notes in his chart, failing to follow policies and procedures to prevent the plaintiff's decedent from being discharged while still a suicide risk, and discharged him with inaccurate discharge instructions. The plaintiffs claim that as a result, the plaintiffs' decedent committed suicide by driving his vehicle off a cliff the day of discharge. Count two makes this claim pursuant to General Statutes § 52-555, and count three is a claim for loss of parental consortium.

On December 23, 2014, pursuant to General Statutes § 52-190a, the defendant, Bristol Hospital, filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' action as to any claim that any alleged agent or employee of the defendant hospital was negligent, or any claim that the defendant hospital is vicariously liable to the actions of any person other than the defendant, Dr. Manoharan. Bristol Hospital argues that these claims are not supported by an opinion of a " similar health care provider" providing a detailed basis for the formation of the belief that an alleged employee or agent of Bristol Hospital--other than Dr. Manoharan--was negligent, as required by General Statutes § 52-190a.[1]

While the motion to dismiss was pending and prior to any objection being filed, on April 7, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a request for leave to amend the complaint. The amended complaint is in six counts, which the plaintiffs indicate " (1) provides more detail from the factual records than the initial complaint did, and (2) amplifies and clarifies some of the original allegations." (Plaintiffs' Reply to Bristol Hospital's Objection to Plaintiffs' Request for Leave to Amend, [Reply], p.2.) All defendants have filed an objection to the proposed complaint, in large part due to the addition of a new claim of apparent agency.[2]

On May 18, 2015, the plaintiffs filed their objection to Bristol Hospital's motion to dismiss. In the objection, as well as at oral argument, the plaintiffs indicated that they would stipulate that they were not pursuing any vicarious liability claims against Bristol Hospital for anyone other than Dr. Manoharan's negligence, which would appear to resolve the original basis for the motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs are pursuing ordinary negligence claims directly against Bristol Hospital. They summarize their claims as to Bristol Hospital as " (1) that Dr. Manoharan committed malpractice, and that when he did he was acting as the Hospital's agent and/or its apparent agent; and (2) that the Hospital was negligent in failing to have the identified policies and procedures in place before [the plaintiffs' decedent] became a patient." (Reply, p. 2.)

The plaintiffs have also indicated in their reply to Dr. Manoharan's objection to their proposed complaint that they are willing to stipulate that they are not pursuing claims against Dr. Manoharan for vicarious liability for any of his agents and/or apparent agents. Other than Dr. Manoharan's group's potential vicarious liability for his negligence, the plaintiffs are also willing to stipulate that they are not pursuing claims against the group for any of its other agents and/or apparent agents. However, the proposed complaint makes references to agents, apparent agents, servants, and/or employees of Dr. Manoharan, and the defendants, Dr. Manoharan and Bristol Multispecialty Group, argue that the plaintiffs must delete those references as contained in various paragraphs in counts one, two and three.

The plaintiffs filed leave to amend their complaint, and significantly changed the claims asserted. Bristol Hospital's motion to dismiss addresses the original complaint, and the issue it raises--the vicarious liability of agents, servants, employees other than Dr. Manoharan--is now not the basis of the plaintiffs' claims due to the stipulations made by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs' objection to the motion to dismiss specifically makes reference to the allegations contained in the proposed amended complaint, which is not before the court as the request for leave has not been granted. Bristol Hospital's reply to the objection by the plaintiff's references the proposed complaint which is not before the court, creating a procedural morass.

The plaintiffs have indicated that they would stipulate to facts that would cure some of the defects and resolve the issues raised by the motion to dismiss and the objections to the proposed complaint. The defendant, Bristol Hospital, has not objected to this offer or argued that the plaintiffs' motion to amend or offers to stipulate are improper because its motion to dismiss is pending. In order for the record to be clear and for the parties to specifically address the same pleadings, the court orders the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint including the facts and allegations that the plaintiffs have stipulated to. The defendants shall have all of its rights preserved to address that amended complaint either by way of a renewed motion to dismiss or a motion to strike.[3]

The motion to dismiss is denied without prejudice. The request for leave to amend is also denied with orders to file ...


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