Doctor Found Liable For Failing To Help Suicidal Patient

, The Connecticut Law Tribune


Josh Koskoff
Josh Koskoff

Mary Morrin, executor of the estate of James Morrin v. Carl Koplin: A former Tolland doctor and his nurse practitioner failed to treat James Morrin's mental illness, according to lawyers for Morrin's estate. They instead gave the man numerous sleeping pills for insomnia and never recommended counseling.

Thus, the plaintiff's lawyers said, Morrin did not get the help he desperately needed. In June 2009, he shot and killed his wife, Alice, before killing himself 46 seconds later.

Last week, a Waterbury Superior Court jury that had already found the former doctor and his medical practice liable for Morrin's death, awarded the man's estate roughly $8 million. Morrin left behind two daughters, who were ages 9 and 15 at the time of the murder-suicide.

"It was just so preventable," said Joshua Koskoff, one of the lawyers for the estate. "He really just needed someone to talk to, a therapist to straighten him out and bring him in touch with reality."

Vernon police said Morrin killed his wife and himself after learning she was having an affair. Alice Morrin had filed for divorce two months earlier. James Morrin, who was 45, was a highway planner for the state Department of Transportation and an Air Force veteran. Alice Morrin, who was 43, worked for WTIC-TV and The Hartford Courant. The daughters were home at the time of the murder-suicide but were unharmed.

Koskoff, of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport, said it appears Morrin was the last to know his wife was having an affair.

"It was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Koskoff, who was assisted by Katie Mesner-Hage, of the same firm. "He was living under this false reality that his relationship was going to recover even though his wife filed for divorce."

Koplin was James Morrin's doctor. Morrin's family, with his mother as executor, sued Koplin and his practice, Healthwise Medical Group, for medical malpractice, saying Koplin failed to diagnose Morrin's mental health problems and failed to refer him to a psychiatrist. Koplin denied the allegations.

Koskoff explained that Morrin went through a period of about three months when he was getting one to three hours of sleep each night. Koskoff said Morrin was becoming increasingly depressed and was losing touch with reality. He also reportedly told his doctor about other symptoms, including anxiety, fear, sadness, the marital problems, weight loss and inability to concentrate.

However, according to Koskoff, medical records indicate the doctor said all Morrin needed was sleep. The physician prescribed various sleeping pills.

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