MARGARET A. MUELLER v. ISIDORE TEPLER et al., SC 18939
Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk
Same Sex Marriage; Civil Union; Whether Same Sex Partner can Recover for Loss of Consortium Where she Claims she Would Have Been Married at the Time of the Injury had the Law Allowed. Margaret Mueller brought this action seeking to recover for medical malpractice, and her same sex domestic partner, Charlotte Stacey, asserted claims for loss of consortium. The defendants moved to strike Stacey's claims, arguing that Stacey could not recover for loss of consortium because the plaintiffs had not entered into a legal civil union or marriage prior to or during the dates of the alleged negligent acts. The trial court granted the motion to strike, ruling that one who is not married or in a civil union at the time of the wrong cannot bring a loss of consortium claim, and rendered judgment for the defendants against Stacey. Stacey appealed, and the Appellate Court (132 Conn. App. 742) affirmed the judgment, noting that our Supreme Court has previously ruled that a claim for loss of spousal consortium cannot be maintained by one who was not married to the victim at the time the tort occurred. The Appellate Court rejected Stacey's claim that that precedent should not apply here because, while she was not married to Mueller before the defendants' negligent actions occurred, she and Mueller would have formalized their relationship if it were not for the unconstitutional deprivation of their right to do so under state law as it existed at that time. The court found that that argument failed because Stacey did not allege that fact in the complaint. It determined that, while Stacey pleaded that she was in a stable relationship with Mueller, lived with her for many years, supported her financially and entered into a civil union with her after the tortious conduct had occurred, she never alleged that the couple would have formalized their relationship before the defendants' negligent acts ceased. The Supreme Court granted Stacey's petition for certification to appeal, and will decide whether the Appellate Court properly (1) affirmed the ruling granting the motion to strike based on grounds distinct from those that the trial court considered in granting the motion and (2) concluded that Stacey was not entitled to bring a loss of consortium claim where she was not married to her domestic partner at the time of the partner's injury because neither civil unions nor same sex marriages were recognized at that time.