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Brasley v. City of Bristol

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

May 18, 2016

MICHELE BRASLEY, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF KYLA RYNG
v.
CITY OF BRISTOL AND OFFICER GEORGE FRANEK

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE: APPORTIONMENT DEFENDANT, ALISSA WURTZEL'S MOTION TO DISMISS - #112 and APPORTIONMENT DEFENDANT, THE CONNECTICUT NATIONAL GUARD'S MOTION TO DISMISS - #114

          Swienton, J.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff, Michele Brasley, Administrator of the Estate of Kyla Ring, brought this action by complaint dated June 29, 2105, naming as the defendants, the City of Bristol (" the City") and Officer George Franek (collectively, " the defendants/apportionment plaintiffs"). The complaint alleges negligence against the City and Franek in connection with the death of Kyla Ryng on June 4, 2014.

         The complaint alleges that on May 31, 2014, Ryng placed a 911 call to the Bristol Police Department to report a crime of family violence involving her brother-in-law, Skyler Ryng and her estranged husband, Alexander Ryng. Franek responded to the call, and Ryng reported to Franek that " she did not feel safe, that she believed her husband was unstable, that she had recently filed for divorce due to ongoing marital problems, and that she had been subjected to physical abuse at the hands of Alexander Ryng ..." Complaint, second count, ¶ 4.

         While on the scene, Franek spoke with Alissa Wurtzel, the Director of Psychological Health for the Connecticut National Guard and was informed by Wurtzel that Alexander Ryng had missed counseling appointments with her, and had missed an appointment that day. She also stated that the National Guard would be contacting the Bristol Police Department to request a wellness check on Alexander. Wurtzel contacted the Bristol Police Department two more times, and ultimately requested a welfare check, informing the dispatcher that she was concerned about Ryng's missed appointments and the increasingly erratic behavior he was exhibiting.

         The dispatcher forwarded the request for a wellness check to a responding officer, Office Scott Mcintyre, who proceeded to Alexander's home. There Officer Mcintyre met with Alexander's family members who expressed their fear that Alexander was not himself and concerned that he had missed his scheduled appointments with Wurtzel. Officer Mcintyre was shown a text message from Alexander to his wife, the plaintiff's decedent, stating " till death do us part." Subsequently, on June 4, 2014, Kyla Ryng was shot and killed by Alexander, who then turned the gun on himself and took his own life. The plaintiff, Michelle Brasley, Administrator of the Estate of Kyla Ryng, brought this wrongful death action against the City and Franek.

         The plaintiff's complaint sounds primarily in negligence, alleging that Kyla Ryng's death was caused by the negligence of one or more members of the Bristol Police Department, including Franek.

         On December 9, 2015, the defendants/apportionment plaintiffs filed a three count apportionment complaint against Wurtzel and the Connecticut National Guard (" the Guard"). The first two counts are directed toward Wurtzel. The apportionment complaint alleges that at the time of the incident, Wurtzel was a licensed social worker providing counseling to Alexander Ryng. Wurtzel spoke with Franek by telephone while Franek was at the Ryng residence investigating the domestic disturbance. She informed Franek of her concern regarding Alexander missed therapy appointments. Wurtzel also contacted the City's Police Department and requested a wellness check on Alexander, due to her concern regarding his state of mind, and " that the situation was unfolding, but never said he was a danger to himself or others." Apportionment complaint, first count, ¶ 8. The apportionment complaint alleges that Wurtzel knew or should have known that Alexander posed a serious danger to himself and to others due to his mental instability. The apportionment complaint goes on to allege that the incident on June 4, 2014, was caused by the negligence of Wurtzel:

         " a) In that she failed to inform Officer Franek, any of the other officers she spoke with, and/or the City of Bristol Police Department Communications Division, that Alexander Ryng was dangerous and unstable and posed a serious threat to himself and others;

         b) In that she failed to act as a reasonably prudent psychotherapist by failing to make known the seriousness of Alexander Ryng's mental condition; and

         c) In that she failed to control and/or restrain Alexander Ryng where she was his psychotherapist and Kyla Ryng was a specifically identifiable victim and/or a member of a class of identifiable victims or within the zone of risk as Alexander Ryng's wife." Apportionment complaint, first count, ¶ 10

         In the second count, it is alleged that at the time of the incident, Wurtzel was the Director of Psychological Health for the Connecticut National Guard. The allegations of the first count are repeated and are made against Wurtzel in her capacity as Director.

         The City and Franek through the Apportionment Complaint are also making a claim against the Connecticut National Guard. They allege that the Guard was negligent and also " a party who is or may be liable in the lawsuit of the plaintiff ... for purposes of determining the question of apportioning liability and damages, if any, sustained by Kyla Ryng or [the plaintiff]." It alleges specifically that the incident was caused by the negligence and carelessness of [the Guard] through its officer, employees and/or representatives in the following ways:

         " a) In that it failed to require Alexander Ryng to report to his base or unit despite National Guard officers, employees, and/or representatives concern over his failure to show-up to appointments and/or to a psychological assessment with his counselor or psychotherapist;

         b) In that it failed to have his National Guard unit locate him and return him to his base or unit and;

         c) In that it failed to inform the Bristol Police Department that Alexander Ryng was dangerous and unstable and posed a serious threat to himself and others." Apportionment complaint, third count, ¶ 5.

         The apportionment defendant, Wurtzel, has filed a motion to dismiss the two counts against her arguing that the defendants/apportionment plaintiffs have failed to comply with the requirements of General Statutes § 52-190a. Specifically, Wurtzel argues that the counts against her allege medical negligence, and the defendants/apportionment plaintiffs failed to attach a certificate of good faith and a supporting written opinion authored by a " similar health care provider as evidence of a good faith basis to file the pending action. ...


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