Hazel B. Pappas, Individually and as Administratix and Sole Beneficiary of the Estate of James Pappas, Cassandra Pappas, Markos Pappas, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Philip Morris, Inc., AKA Philip Morris USA, AKA Philip Morris USA Inc., Defendant-Appellee.
Submitted: November 5, 2018
B. Pappas, pro se, seeks to pursue several
Connecticut state-law liability claims against Philip Morris,
Inc., on behalf of the estate of her late husband, who died
of respiratory and heart diseases after years of smoking
Marlboro cigarettes. The district court dismissed certain of
Pappas's claims, holding that Connecticut law would not
allow her to represent the estate pro se, and
dismissed her other claims on the ground that they were
barred by the statute of limitations. The order of the
district court is AFFIRMED in part and VACATED in part, and
the case is REMANDED for further proceedings.
B. Pappas, pro se, Cassandra Pappas, pro se, New Haven, CT;
Markos Pappas, pro se, Berlin, NH, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
L. Arnold, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, New York,
NY; Paul W. Rodney, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP,
Denver, CO, for Defendant-Appellee.
Before: Lynch and Hall, Circuit Judges, and Engelmayer,
District Judge. [*]
E. Lynch, Circuit Judge
Hazel B. Pappas ("Pappas") seeks to bring several
Connecticut law claims, pro se, against
Defendant-Appellee Philip Morris, Inc. ("Philip
Morris"), on behalf of the estate of her late husband,
who died of respiratory and heart diseases after years of
smoking Marlboro cigarettes, manufactured by Philip Morris.
The United States District Court for the District of
Connecticut (Alvin W. Thompson, J.) dismissed
Pappas's complaint, holding that certain of her claims
were barred by the statute of limitations and that she could
not bring the remaining claims pro se, since with
respect to those claims she was representing not herself, but
the estate of her late husband. Pappas appealed. For the
reasons that follow, we VACATE the dismissal of Pappas's
claim under the Connecticut Product Liability Act
("CPLA"), her derivative claim for loss of spousal
consortium, and the claim of Plaintiffs-Appellants Cassandra
and Markos Pappas for loss of parental consortium, and REMAND
for further proceedings. We AFFIRM the district court's
order in all other respects.
pro se, Pappas filed a products liability suit
against Philip Morris in the district court pursuant to its
diversity jurisdiction, asserting claims both on her own
behalf and on behalf of her late husband's estate, of
which she is Administratix. She alleges that in or about the
late 1950s, her late husband, James Pappas, was lured into
cigarette smoking by a marketing strategy and conspiracy
among tobacco companies to glamorize smoking and portray it
as a normal and non-dangerous part of American culture. For
over five decades, James Pappas smoked Marlboro cigarettes
manufactured by Philip Morris. As a result of smoking
cigarettes, James Pappas contracted respiratory and heart
diseases that led to his death on June 19, 2013, at the age
of 79. In or about March 2016, a medical professional
informed Pappas that James Pappas's smoking Marlboro
cigarettes caused and aggravated the respiratory and heart
disease that killed him.
15, 2016, Pappas, and her two children with James, Cassandra
and Markos Pappas, filed a complaint stating claims against
Philip Morris for (1) violating the CPLA, Conn. Gen. Stat.
§ 52-572m, et seq., and Connecticut Unfair Trade
Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a, et seq.,
("CUTPA"); (2) loss of spousal consortium; (3) loss
of parental consortium; and (4) negligent infliction of
emotional distress ("NIED"). In support of
Pappas's ability to litigate the action pro se,
Cassandra and Markos Pappas filed disclaimers of interest in
their father's estate, and Pappas filed an affidavit
stating that to her knowledge James Pappas has no known
creditors or debtors. As a result, Pappas contends that she
is the sole beneficiary of James Pappas's estate.
district court held a hearing to determine, among other
things, whether Pappas could represent the estate pro
se. After briefing by the parties, the district court
dismissed Pappas's, Cassandra's, and Markos's
complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
Pappas v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No.
3:16-cv-932(AWT), 2017 WL 6629298 (D. Conn. June 21, 2017).
district court dismissed Pappas's CPLA claim, which
belongs to James Pappas's estate, on the ground that
Pappas could not bring that claim pro se. The court
held that because it was sitting in diversity jurisdiction,
it had to apply Connecticut law to the question of whether
Pappas could represent the estate pro se, and under
Ellis v. Cohen, 982 A.2d 1130 (Conn. App. Ct. 2009),
she could not do so. Ellis explains that under
Connecticut law, a litigant may appear pro se only
to represent her own cause, and that individuals may not
appear pro se when they are suing in a
representative capacity. Id. at 1133. The district
court rejected the applicability of a Second Circuit case,
Guest v. Hansen, 603 F.3d 15 (2d Cir. 2010), in
which this Court held that the administrator of an estate
could represent the estate pro se under certain
conditions, on the grounds that Guest was decided
under New York law. The district court also dismissed
Pappas's loss of spousal consortium claim, and
Cassandra's and Markos's loss of parental consortium
claims, on the ground that those claims were derivative of
the dismissed CPLA claim.
district court also dismissed the CUTPA claims and NIED
claims as time-barred by their respective three- and two-year
statutes of limitations. The district court further ruled
that, even if the CUTPA claims were not time-barred,
Pappas's CUTPA claims would still fail because the CPLA,
not CUTPA, provides the exclusive remedy under Connecticut
law for a party seeking recompense for injuries caused by a
thus dismissed all the claims in the complaint, the district
court ordered the case closed. Pappas and her children moved
to amend the judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), asserting
numerous arguments. The district ...