CT Supreme Court Clarifies Pandemic Order for LTC Providers

Elder Law Answers Case Summary.The Supreme Court of Connecticut holds that the Governor’s order shielding health care providers from liability applies to problems resulting from resource depletion caused by the pandemic. In Manginelli v. Regency House of Wallingford, Inc. (Conn. SC 20767, August 8, 2023).

During the height of the COVID pandemic, staff at a nursing home operated by Regency House of Wallingford, Inc. dropped a patient during a bed transfer. The patient suffered injuries that led to her death. Her conservator, Kimberly Manginelli, brought a wrongful death suit.

Asserting that Executive Order No. 7V, which gave immunity to health care providers from COVID-related suits, shielded them from liability, the facility motioned to dismiss the case. Narrowly construing the order, the court denied the motion to dismiss. The court considers the scope of the immunity Executive Order No. 7V.

In Mills v. Hartford HealthCare Corp., the court interpreted the order as granting immunity when acts or omissions were connected to a provider’s services supporting the state’s COVID response, even if a patient did not have the virus, rejecting both overly narrow and broad interpretations of the order.

The order grants immunity for negligence arising from acts or omissions undertaken due to the pandemic’s drain on available resources. For immunity to apply, there must be a lack of resources stemming from the pandemic that caused the challenged acts or omissions. The facility must show that the lack of resources caused the fall to receive protection from the order. The order is not a blanket protection against any suit arising from an event during the pandemic.

The trial court correctly denied the motion to dismiss because the facility failed to demonstrate that the fall happened because the pandemic diminished resources. While the facility gave evidence of a lack of resources, it did not show a causal relationship. Although the trial court’s interpretation of the order as only applying to the treatment of COVID patients was too narrow, its denial of the motion to dismiss was appropriate.

Read the full opinion.