Alexander v. Newman
A court may lack subject-matter jurisdiction over an individual who passes away before the plaintiff files a complaint, alleging that the defendant was negligent. On May 2, 2011, the defendant, Martin Newman, was driving in the left lane on Route 95, near exit 41 in Orange, and allegedly collided with the plaintiff's motor vehicle, when he attempted to change lanes. The plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging that Newman was negligent. The defendant moved to dismiss, because Newman passed away on March 24, 2013, before a state marshal attempted to serve the defendant. The plaintiff objected that a savings provision in Connecticut General Statutes §52-599 applied to save the plaintiff's suit. The statute provides, "A civil action or proceeding shall not abate by reason of the death of any party thereto." C.G.S. §52-599 applies when the defendant passes away after the plaintiff files a complaint. In a 1998 decision, Noble v. Corkin, Superior Court Judge Jon Blue wrote that a plaintiff may not file a complaint against a deceased individual. "I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but this is what I've read," wrote Judge Blue. "If you sue a man who is cold in the ground, your case—like the man—will be dead." The plaintiff's suit against Martin Newman, which was commenced after the defendant passed away, was void ab initio, and the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss.