Week of March 3
Welcome to our Supreme and Appellate Court summaries webpage. On this page, I provide abbreviated summaries of decisions from the Connecticut appellate courts which highlight important issues and developments in Connecticut law, and provide practical practice pointers to litigants. I have been summarizing these court decisions internally for our firm for more than 10 years, and providing relevant highlights to my municipal and insurance practice clients for almost as long. It was suggested that a wider audience might appreciate brief summaries of recent rulings that condense often long and confusing decisions down to their basic elements. These summaries are limited to the civil litigation decisions. I may from time to time add commentary, and may even criticize a decision’s reasoning. Such commentary is solely my own personal opinion.. Pullman & Comley’s Appellate Practice Group of which I am a member includes experienced appellate advocates in almost every area of the law. Should you have a need to consult about a potential appeal, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I hope the reader finds these summaries helpful. – Edward P. McCreery
Posted March 3, 2015
- SC18928 - Rathbun v. Health Net of the Northeast, Inc.
In Connecticut, the Department of Social Services manages the federal Medicaid act and awards contracts to Medicaid managed health care providers. The defendant had such a contract which included an assignment of the State’s statutory rights to seek reimbursement of medical payments from responsible third parties, such as tortfeasors who injured the insured. The defendant in turn subcontracted out the function of pursuing such collections and that subcontractor followed all the appropriate steps to notify the parties and the attorneys involved that they were entitled to be reimbursed from any pending tort claim.
The plaintiffs brought a class action seeking a declaration that the defendant did not have a right to demand reimbursement by way of subrogation for their medical expenses from their personal injury (P.I.) attorneys, and if they had any rights, they, or the State, would have to commence their own lawsuit directly against the tortfeasor. Both the trial court and the Appellate Court disagreed, holding the plaintiffs were misconstruing past precedent and statutory language. The rights of subrogation of the State, which in turn were assigned to the defendant, allowed either a direct action against the tortfeasor, or intervention into the tort action, or to simply claim a lien in any judgment or recovery.
On further appeal, the Supremes agreed with the Appellate Court that 17b-265(a) confers the right upon the State or its assignee to pursue the recovery and in fact such protocol is mandated by the federal regulations that mandate that Medicaid be the payor of last resort. The court was not persuaded by the argument that 17b-94 places some limits on the State’s ability of recovery because as a practical matter that statute can only apply to purely State claims, not monies that are part of the federal Medicaid program which in turn mandates a protocol for recovery.
[Comment: This is entirely consistent with any number of situations where a P.I. attorney must be cognizant of who is entitled to be paid back whenever they win a recovery in a P.I. claim.]
Upheld workers comp decision
Real estate broker was not required to turn over lawyer’s threatening letter to prospective buyer of property just because the lawyer demanded she do so. Nor did the letter’s claim that lawyer’s client had a right to pass over the subject property listed for sale impose such an obligation. The broker was not a lawyer and was not required to legally dissect the claims contained in the letter. In any event, based upon the totality of the circumstances, the prospective buyer was on notice of the claims of third parties that they had the right to use the waterfront of the parcel because before the closing, the buyer’s attorney had reviewed records that should have shown waterfront access was shared; the buyers were told of the existence of the threatening letter; the seller told the buyer he did not own to the water’s edge; and they were told there was a lawsuit over access. Thus the buyers could not maintain a claim for fraud and CUTPA against the broker after they closed and found out interior lots had access to what the buyers thought was their front yard and for which they paid more than $1 million.
The facts and holdings of any case may be redacted, paraphrased or condensed for ease of reading. No summary can be an exact rendering of any decision, however, so interested readers are referred to the full decisions. The docket number of each case is a hyperlink to the Connecticut Judicial Department online slip opinion. Copyright 2015 Pullman & Comley, LLC. All Rights Reserved.