KAREN INCARDONA, ADMINISTRATRIX FOR THE ESTATE OF HAZEL SMART, et al. v. DAVID ROER, M.D., et al.;
KAREN INCARDONA, ADMINISTRATRIX FOR THE ESTATE OF HAZEL SMART, et al. v. ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL et al., SC 18925
Judicial District of Waterbury
Appellate Jurisdiction; Whether Order of Sanctions for Failure to Comply with a Discovery Deadline was an Appealable Final Judgment. The plaintiffs initiated these actions, alleging that the decedent, Hazel Smart, died as a result of a defective catheter used during one of her dialysis treatments. Thereafter, the plaintiffs issued notices of deposition, seeking to take the depositions of certain representatives of two of the defendants, namely, AngioDynamics, Inc., and Medical Components, Inc. (collectively, the defendants). The defendants objected to the notices of deposition, arguing that the depositions were improperly scheduled after the deadline that the trial court had established in its scheduling order. The trial court agreed that the depositions were scheduled beyond the established deadline, but it determined that precluding the depositions would not constitute an appropriate remedy. It concluded that the depositions could go forward on the condition that the plaintiffs pay all of the costs associated with the depositions, including the defendants' attorney's fees. The plaintiffs subsequently filed an interlocutory appeal, claiming that the court improperly ordered them to pay the costs of the depositions as a sanction for scheduling the depositions beyond the established deadline. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the appeal was not taken from a final judgment. Relying on Green Rock Ridge, Inc. v. Kobernat, 250 Conn. 488, 498-99 (1999), the defendants maintained that a sanctions order for failure to comply with a discovery order is not immediately appealable. The plaintiffs countered that the sanctions order was immediately appealable pursuant to State v. Curcio, 191 Conn. 27, 31 (1983). Under Curcio, an interlocutory order is appealable in two circumstances: (1) where the order or action terminates a separate and distinct proceeding, or (2) where the order or action so concludes the rights of the parties that further proceedings cannot affect them. The plaintiffs argued that the sanctions order was separate and distinct from the underlying issues in the case and that the severability of the order was demonstrated by the fact that the matter continued to proceed after the order was entered. They also contended that the second prong of the Curcio test was satisfied because compliance with the order would cause them to suffer irreparable harm by significantly diminishing the resources necessary to prosecute their claims. They further opined that, in the absence of an appeal, no further proceeding could possibly alter the sanctions order. The Appellate Court rejected the plaintiffs' arguments and granted the motion to dismiss. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the sanctions order was immediately appealable.