Incardona v. Roer
Prior to a final judgment, the appellate courts have jurisdiction to hear a challenge to an interlocutory order sanctioning a party for failure to comply with a discovery order only upon a finding of contempt for failure to comply with the order. Karen Incardona, executrix of the estate of Hazel and Harold Smart, brought two actions, later consolidated, alleging that Hazel Smart died as a result of a defective catheter used in her dialysis treatment at what became Davita Greater Waterbury Dialysis Center. The action sounded in negligence, medical malpractice, loss of consortium and products liability. In Aug. 2011, the plaintiffs filed deposition notices for fact witnesses in September 2011, after the court's modified scheduling order deadline of June 1, 2011. Product liability defendants, AngioDynamics, Inc. and Medical Components, Inc., objected. The court found that the delay prejudiced the defendants, but that precluding the depositions would be inappropriate. The court ordered that the plaintiffs could proceed conditioned on their paying all costs and expenses for the depositions, including the defendants' attorneys' fees. Re-argument was denied. The Appellate Court dismissed the plaintiffs' interlocutory appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, citing the 1999 Supreme Court case of Green Rock Ride, Inc. v. Kobernat. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the Appellate Court improperly dismissed their appeal because the monetary sanctions will deplete the funds available to prosecute the case and the order constituted an appealable final judgment under both prongs of the 1983 Connecticut Supreme Court case of State v. Curcio. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. The trial court's order was not a final judgment. The case fell squarely within the rule of Green Rock Ridge. Prior to a final judgment, the Court has jurisdiction to hear a challenge to an interlocutory order sanctioning a party for failure to comply with a discovery order only upon a finding of contempt for failure to comply with the order. No significant public policy principles justified a contrary conclusion here. The trial court's order did not satisfy either of Curcio's exceptions—the order did not terminate a separate and distinct proceeding or so conclude the rights of the parties that further proceedings could not affect them. The trial court later modified the order and granted the plaintiffs' motion for expanded discovery.