JAMES DOE ET AL.
January 19, 2017
from Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Elgo, J.
LeBlanc, with whom, on the brief, were Erin E. Canalia and A.
Ryan McGuigan, for the appellants (plaintiffs).
Pascale Zaino, with whom were William J. Sweeney, Jr., and,
on the brief, Richard C. Tynan and Logan A. Forsey, and for
the appellee (substitute defendant).
DiPentima, C. J., and Sheldon and Bishop, Js.
DiPENTIMA, C. J.
plaintiffs, James Doe and John Doe, appeal from the order of
the trial court denying their motion for continued use of
pseudonyms in their underlying civil action against the
defendant, Robert Rackliffe, a pediatrician. On appeal, the
plaintiffs claim that the court erred in denying their motion
for continued use of pseudonyms (1) by requiring the
plaintiffs to present live testimony at an evidentiary
hearing as a prerequisite to permitting them to use
pseudonyms and (2) because the existing record showed that
the plaintiffs had substantial privacy interests in
maintaining their anonymity that outweighed the public's
interest in knowing the names of the parties. We disagree
and, accordingly, affirm the order of the trial court.
following facts and procedural history are relevant to our
resolution of this appeal. The plaintiffs commenced this
action alleging, in a four count complaint dated May 1, 2014,
that they were sexually assaulted as minors by the defendant.
The first and third counts allege that the defendant sexually
assaulted the plaintiffs, as minors, while they were his
patients. The second and fourth counts allege negligence by
the defendant in the care and treatment of the plaintiffs.
All four counts further allege that as a direct and proximate
result of the actions of the defendant, the plaintiffs have
suffered physical injury, extreme emotional distress, fear,
apprehension, and likely permanent psychological pain and
with filing their complaint on May 1, 2014, the plaintiffs
filed an ex parte application for permission to use
pseudonyms to commence their action against the defendant
pursuant to Practice Book § 11-20A (h). The court,
Robaina, J., granted the plaintiffs temporary
permission to proceed under the pseudonyms
‘‘James Doe and John Doe, '' pending a
hearing on the continued use of those pseudonyms. The hearing
was scheduled originally for July 14, 2014, and then
continued to July 28, 2014. On May 1, 2014, the plaintiffs
filed a motion for the continued use of those pseudonyms
(motion), to which the defendant objected on July 23, 2014.
defendant's objection, he asserted that the motion should
be denied because the court did not have sufficient facts
before it to support a finding under Practice Book §
11-20A (h) that the continued use of pseudonyms was
necessary, and therefore ‘‘an evidentiary hearing
on the motion should be held for the court to make the
necessary finding . . . .'' The defendant further
noted that the plaintiffs' motion also should be denied
because they had publicized their lawsuit to news media
outlets ‘‘to advance their claim, to seek other
plaintiffs and in general to bring their case public without
having to stand up and identify themselves as is normally
required under our constitutional right to an open court
28, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a reply to the defendant's
objection, in which they asserted that an evidentiary hearing
was not required because the allegations in their complaint
were sufficient for the court to make the necessary finding
under Practice Book § 11-20A (h). The plaintiffs further
responded that their comments on the case to news media
outlets did not amount to a forfeiture of their right to have
their identities protected from the public.
28, 2014, the court, Berger, J., continued the
hearing and scheduled an evidentiary hearing for October 8,
2014, in order to allow the parties to present evidence on
the motion. The plaintiffs submitted affidavits on
September 19, 2014, and September 22, 2014, which described
acts of sexual assault committed against them by the
defendant. On September 24, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a
supplemental memorandum in support of their motion, arguing
that an evidentiary hearing was not required because the
allegations in their complaint and the statements in their
affidavits were sufficient for the court to make the
necessary finding under Practice Book § 11-20A (h). In
that supplemental memorandum, the plaintiffs specifically
asserted that ‘‘[i]t is [the] plaintiffs'
position that such evidentiary hearing should not be held in
the instant matter because a hearing at this stage of the
litigation would serve no other purpose than to subject the
plaintiffs to further ridicule in a public forum, and
exacerbate their severe emotional and psychological
October 8, 2014, the date for which an evidentiary hearing
had been scheduled, the court, Elgo, J., heard the
arguments of the parties pertaining to the motion. A
significant part of the arguments focused on whether an
evidentiary hearing was required. Specifically, the defendant
argued that an evidentiary hearing was required under
Practice Book § 11-20A (h) because the record was
insufficient to support any finding that the use of
pseudonyms is necessary to preserve any interest that
outweighed the public's interest in knowing the names of
the parties. In turn, the plaintiffs insisted that the court
could grant their motion based on their sworn affidavits, and
indicated that no additional evidence would be proffered in
support of their motion at the scheduled hearing.
February 9, 2015, the court, Elgo, J., held a
hearing to make the requisite finding of notice required
under Practice Book § 11-20A (h) (3). At that hearing,
the court stated that the plaintiffs had not provided an
adequate evidentiary basis for the court to permit the
continued use of pseudonyms. The court also expressed its