Court Overrules Defendant’s Objection to Offer of Compromise Filed Under New Statute

In a recent decision, Judge Maronich, of Danbury Superior Court, overruled the defendants’ objection to plaintiffs’ offers of compromise. See Weth v. New Fairfield Family Practice, et al., D.N. DBDCV095007125S. After the plaintiffs had filed offers of compromise, following the new procedures outlined in General Statutes § 52-192a, as amended in 2005, the defendants objected claiming that they had not been given authorizations for and/or received essentially all of plaintiff’s decedent’s medical records. The plaintiffs filed a reply arguing that: 1) the proper authorizations/records had been provided; 2) the plain meaning of the statute supported plaintiffs’ position; 3) the legislative history supported plaintiffs’ position; and 4) prior case law supported plaintiffs’ position.

Following the guidance of an earlier decision of Judge Scholl in Downs v. Trias, Superior Court, Ct. Sup. 13654 (August 11, 2009), Judge Maronich held that: “[T]he extent of the records for which an authorization is required [pursuant to General Statutes § 52-192a(b)] is to be determined from the language and the purpose of the statute. The requirement that a plaintiff shall ‘provide the defendant…with an authorization to disclose medical records follows the requirement that an offer of compromise state with specificity all damages then known to the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney upon which the action is based.’ Furthermore, it precedes the requirement that the plaintiff file ‘a certification that the plaintiff has provided each defendant…with all documentation supporting such damages.’ Thus, in the context of the entire statute, the authorization for disclosure of ‘medical records’ must relate to medical records that support the plaintiff’s claimed damages. Therefore the statute requires that, at least sixty days before the filing of an offer of compromise, the Plaintiffs must have provided the Defendants with authorization to obtain medical records that support the damages they claim.” (Emphasis added.)

Weth is an action to recover for damages resulting from the wrongful death of the plaintiff’s decedent from undiagnosed coronary artery disease. Based on a reasonable application of the statute to the facts of this case, Judge Maronich was “satisfied that the Plaintiffs have provided the Defendants the necessary authorizations such that the defendants have sufficient medical records on which to evaluate the Plaintiffs’ offers of compromise.”