United States District Court, D. Connecticut
CHARTER PRACTICES INT'L, LLC and MED. MGMT. INT'L, INC., Plaintiffs,
JOHN M. ROBB, Defendant.
RULING AND ORDER
N. Chatigny United States District Judge.
is plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on their
breach of contract and CUTPA claims and Dr. Robb's
counterclaims. Pls.' Mot., ECF No. 268. Judge Martinez
has recommended that the motion be denied. Recc. Ruling, ECF
No. 335. Plaintiffs have objected to the recommended ruling.
Pls.' Obj., ECF No. 336. Familiarity with the recommended
ruling and objection is presumed.
the recommended ruling was filed, the record has been
supplemented to include the Memorandum of Decision of the
Board of Veterinary Medicine of the Connecticut Department of
Health issued in disciplinary proceedings against Dr. Robb on
February 1, 2017. Pls.' Mot. Leave File Suppl. Materials
Ex. A, ECF No. 344-2. Familiarity with the memorandum is also
contend that the Board's decision requires entry of
summary judgment in their favor on the claims and
counterclaims arising from the termination of Dr. Robb's
franchise. I agree. I also conclude that plaintiffs are
entitled to summary judgment on Dr. Robb's counterclaim
for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
have demonstrated that issue preclusion prevents Dr. Robb
from relitigating the issues determined by the Board.
Board's decision can have preclusive effect in this case.
When “a state agency ‘acting in a judicial
capacity . . . resolves disputed issues of fact properly
before it which the parties have had an adequate opportunity
to litigate, ' federal courts must give the agency's
factfinding the same preclusive effect to which it would be
entitled in the State's courts.” Univ. of Tenn.
v. Elliott, 478 U.S. 788, 799 (1986) (citation omitted)
(quoting Utah Constr. & Mining Co., 384 U.S.
394, 422 (1966)).
order for issue preclusion to apply, the issue must have been
fully and fairly litigated, it must have been actually
decided, and the decision must have been necessary to the
judgment. Lafayette v. Gen. Dynamics Corp., 255
Conn. 762, 772, 770 A.2d 1, 9 (2001). All three elements are
satisfied with regard to the issues of consequence to this
Robb argues that the issues decided by the Board differ from
the issues in this case. But plaintiffs seek to invoke issue
preclusion only to the extent there is an identity of issues.
Robb states that the Board did not “find facts on the
science” but instead “mechanically applied the
statute and rule” and did so without regard to his
“ethical convictions.” Def.'s Mem. Opp'n
4-5, ECF No. 347. I cannot agree with that description of the
Board's decision. The decision states:
[Dr. Robb's] misconduct of under-vaccinating animals for
rabies endangered their lives and those around them. The
Department's expert stated that under-vaccination could
potentially provide the vaccinated animals with less
protection, which “could result in the animal getting a
zoonotic disease that's potentially fatal to
people.” Tr. 3/27/2015, p. 11. In the situation when an
animal is suspected of having contracted rabies, the Board
notes that the animal must be quarantined and may be killed
in order to examine whether it did in fact contract rabies.
See, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-359(a) and (b).
Therefore, due to the serious consequences that could result
from under-vaccination for rabies, and [Dr. Robb's]
ardent belief that under his Aesculapian authority he does
not have to vaccinate animals in accordance with state laws
and regulations (Tr. 1/27/2016, p.p. 49, 122; Tr. 2/23/2016,
pp. 130, 132-33), the Board orders that [his] license to
practice veterinary medicine be place[d] on probation for a
period of twenty-five (25) years under the terms and
conditions listed below.
Pls.' Mot. Leave File Suppl. Materials Ex. A, at 10, ECF
decision prohibits Dr. Robb from administering rabies
vaccinations to any animal for the entire probationary period
of twenty-five years. No doubt the Board imposed this
condition because it was concerned that Dr. Robb's
ethical convictions do not permit him to vaccinate animals as
required by state law and regulations.
Robb contends that the interests served by issue preclusion
are outweighed by the interest in having a jury consider the
issues in this particular case. Because the elements of issue
preclusion are satisfied, however, Dr. Robb is not entitled