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Vodovskaia-Scandura v. Hartford Headache Center, LLC

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

September 10, 2019

NAILIA VODOVSKAIA-SCANDURA
v.
HARTFORD HEADACHE CENTER, LLC, ET AL. [*]

          Argued May 28, 2019

         Action to recover damages for, inter alia, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, where the court, Bright, J., granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the complaint and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford File No. CV-13-6044074-S

          Peter White, with whom, on the brief, was A. Paul Spinella, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Steven C. Rickman, with whom was Cristina Sala-mone, for the appellees (defendants).

          Alvord, Elgo and Moll, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The plaintiff, Nailia Vodovskaia-Scandura, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, the Hartford Headache Center, LLC, and Tanya Bilchik, M.D.[1] On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to (1) the extreme and outrageous conduct element of her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, and (2) the duty and causation elements of her negligence claim. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Following the termination of her employment, the plaintiff commenced this civil action against the defendants in 2013. Her second amended complaint contained twelve counts.[2] In response, the defendants filed an answer and several special defenses. Hartford Headache Center, LLC, also filed a counterclaim against the plaintiff sounding in conversion, statutory theft, and replevin.

         The defendants thereafter filed a motion for summary judgment on all twelve counts of that complaint. In opposing the motion, the plaintiff conceded that she could not prevail on ten of her twelve counts and, thus, requested leave to amend her complaint accordingly.[3] In granting that request, the court indicated that it would consider the defendants' motion for summary judgment in light of the allegations set forth in her revised pleading. Days later, the plaintiff filed her amended complaint, which contained two counts alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. By memorandum of decision dated October 31, 2017, the court concluded, as a matter of law, that judgment should enter in favor of the defendants on both counts because the plaintiff had not provided an evidentiary foundation to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of material fact as to the extreme and outrageous conduct element of her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim or the duty and causation elements of her negligence claim.[4] On appeal, the plaintiff challenges the propriety of that determination.

         Our examination of the pleadings, affidavits, and other proof submitted, as well as the briefs and arguments of the parties, persuades us that the judgment should be affirmed. The issues properly were resolved in the court's thorough and well reasoned memorandum of decision. See Vodovskaia-Scandura v. Hartford Headache Center, LLC, Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Docket No. CV-13-6044074-S (October 31, 2017) (reprinted at 192 Conn.App. 562, A.3d). We therefore adopt it as a proper statement of the relevant facts, issues, and applicable law, as it would serve no useful purpose for us to repeat the discussion contained therein. See Citizens Against Overhead Power Line Construction v. Connecticut Siting Council, 311 Conn. 259, 262, 86 A.3d 463 (2014); Phadnis v. Great Expression Dental Centers of Connecticut, P.C., 170 Conn.App. 79, 81, 153 A.3d 687 (2017).

         The judgment is affirmed.

         APPENDIX

         Memorandum filed October 31, 2017

          BRIGHT, J.

         I

         INTRODUCTION

         This action arises out of the plaintiff's employment with the defendant Hartford Headache Center, LLC (LLC). The defendant Tanya Bilchik is the sole member of the LLC. The plaintiff's second amended complaint dated April 29, 2015, alleged twelve causes of action related to how the plaintiff was treated while employed by the LLC. The defendants have moved for summary judgment as to all twelve counts. The LLC also seeks summary judgment on its six count counterclaim, which alleges that the plaintiff converted and stole records belonging to the LLC, including certain confidential patient records. In response, the plaintiff concedes that judgment should enter for the defendants on ten of the twelve counts of her complaint. She argues, however, that there are genuine issues of material fact as to her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim (ninth count) and her negligence claim (eleventh count). As to the counterclaim, the plaintiff does not deny taking the records in question, but argues that the LLC's claims are time barred. Consequently, the plaintiff asks that summary judgment enter in her favor on all six counts of the counterclaim.

         The bases for the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, as pled in the second amended complaint, are that the defendants misrepresented to others that the plaintiff had engaged in improper conduct and a lack of integrity in the performance of her professional duties; the defendants solicited false complaints about the plaintiff from patients and included those falsities in patient medical records and charts; and the defendants, in an effort to distort the plaintiff's professional achievements, omitted materials from her personal file that reflected favorably on her performance as a physician. In their motion for summary judgment, the defendants argue that none of these allegations, even if true, are sufficiently extreme or outrageous to support a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         The basis for the plaintiff's negligence claim is her allegation that the defendants refused to allow the plaintiff to leave work to see a doctor for abdominal pain she was experiencing. She claims that as a result of the defendants' conduct, her treatment was delayed, and as a result of the delay she suffered complications, including infertility. The defendants argue that they owed the plaintiff no duty; they, in fact, did tell the plaintiff to leave work and see a doctor when she complained of the pain; and that there is no competent evidence that any delay in treatment caused the harm she is claiming.

         Following argument on the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff filed a request to amend her complaint. Attached to her request was her proposed fourth amended revised complaint.[1] The proposed amended revised complaint is limited to just the intentional infliction of emotional distress (first count) and negligence (second count) claims. It, thus, removes the other claims as to which the plaintiff agreed that summary judgment could enter. The proposed amended revised complaint also adds allegations of mistreatment, primarily in support of the plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. In particular, the proposed revisions allege that the defendants' office manager, Denise McGrath, created a hostile work environment by intimidation, humiliation, constant criticism and bullying of the plaintiff. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that she was bullied to maximize bill-able hours, including forcing patients to come in when not medically required. The plaintiff also alleges that she was constantly criticized for not bringing in new patients and for how she conducted herself professionally. As to the negligence claim, the proposed amended revised complaint specifies that the abdominal pain the plaintiff suffered from was appendicitis and specifies the date she reported the pain to the defendant as October 3, 2011.

         The defendants opposed the filing of the proposed amended revised complaint because it would unduly prejudice them and was an attempt to ‘‘end run'' the defendants' motion for summary judgment. By an order issued today, the court overruled the defendants' objection because the allegations set forth in the proposed amendment were known to the defendants in that the plaintiff testified to them at her deposition in October, 2016, and because the amendments do not affect the nature of the defendants' arguments or the court's analysis. Specifically, the court must still determine whether the new allegations are sufficiently extreme and outrageous to support a claim of ...


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