Connecticut Supreme Court Affirms Rights of Same Sex Couple

BRIDGEPORT – Attorneys at Koskoff, Kokoff & Bieder announce a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling establishing that important legal rights of same-sex couples can pre-date the state’s approval of same-sex marriage.

In 2006, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of clients Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey, a same-sex couple who had been in a committed relationship for 21 years. It was the first such case filed in Connecticut by a same-sex couple seeking damages for loss of consortium, a remedy typically reserved for married couples.

Mueller was misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001. The couple later learned that Mueller actually had appendix cancer and that Mueller had received the wrong type of treatment for years. She died in 2009 as a result of that malpractice.

This case gained national attention because, before Connecticut’s same-sex civil union bill passed in 2005, only married couples could sue for loss of consortium – the loss of a spouse’s companionship. Because the couple was not married at the time, the loss of consortium lawsuit was dismissed.

Michael Koskoff, a partner at Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder said, “This was a devoted couple of 23 years who, if they could have, would have legally married.” Koskoff stated that he “made appellate review of the case a priority at the firm,” because he considered recognition of same-sex marriage an important social issue.

The Supreme Court agreed. The Judge’s decision states the couple “would have been married if the marriage had not been barred by state law.” The decision allows the loss of consortium claim to be heard by a jury.

Josh Koskoff, a partner at Koskoff, tried the original medical malpractice case in 2010 and received a $2.4 million verdict on behalf of the estate only. He stated, “The jury already found that Ms. Mueller’s death was preventable. I am looking forward to presenting them with the full story of this relationship on remand.”

“This is an important part of a long arc nationwide towards recognizing these relationships,” said Sean McElligott, a partner at Koskoff who handled the appeal. “The state Supreme Court has reaffirmed that same-sex relationships are important and should be protected under the Connecticut law.”

“It’s another example of the Connecticut Supreme Court leading the way in recognizing that love and commitment of same-sex couples is exactly the same as different-sex couples,” said Ben Klein, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) in Boston. “This will be an important decision that other courts will look to.”

In reaction to the decision, Connecticut Lt. Governor Wyman said, “We are fortunate to have strong advocates working to achieve equality and justice for LGBT couples.”

Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder has offices in Bridgeport and New Haven. The nationally known law firm has achieved record verdicts for people who suffer serious personal injuries or economic harm from medical malpractice, violation of their civil or constitutional rights, dangerous products, negligence, drunk drivers, corporate or governmental abuse and commercial misconduct.