CT Court Rejects Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Medical Alert System Company

July 12, 2017 | By Polito & Harrington LLC
CT Court Rejects Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Medical Alert System Company

We all know elderly relatives or friends who have trouble taking care of themselves. These individuals often rely on technology to maintain a lifeline–literally and physically–to the outside world. But when technology fails, who can be held legally responsible?

The Connecticut Appellate Court recently addressed this question, and its answer was not encouraging. This was a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the sister of an 88-year-old woman (known in legal terms as the “decedent”) who was found dead in her Glastonbury home in July 2011. The sister alleged negligence and product liability on the part of a company that produced a medical alert system that was supposed to signal for medical assistance in the event of a sudden emergency.

On the day of the decedent's death, according to the lawsuit, a local police officer responded to a request for a welfare check. He found the decedent lying face down and unresponsive near her bathroom. The officer testified that the decedent had a “personal help button” that was “flashing.” This device was manufactured and sold by the defendant, which was supposed to receive the signal at a call center and summon help.

The lawsuit made negligence and product liability claims against the defendant. Specifically, the sister said the personal help button should have caused the alert system to “seize the decedent's telephone line” and send the necessary signal to the defendant's call center. It did not, the lawsuit claimed, due to the defendant's negligence in installing the unit.

The sister presented her case to a Connecticut jury, but the judge entered a directed verdict for the defendant. The Appellate Court agreed with the judge's decision. The main problem, the appeals court said, was that the sister failed to present “sufficient evidence to demonstrate what caused the decedent's death.” Nobody witnessed the death, and the only testimony presented at trial amounted to speculation.

More to the point, in any personal injury case the plaintiff must establish causation–that is, link the defendant's conduct to the victim's injuries. Here, the Appellate Court said it was impossible to know if the decedent would have lived–or even suffered a less painful death–but for the proper functioning of the medical alert system. At best, the Court said the sister's efforts amounted to “conjecture.”

A Waterford-New London Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You

Wrongful death and product liability cases are often difficult to win because they depend on a great deal of technical evidence, which may not always be available as the case above illustrates. This is why it is important to work with an experienced Waterford-New London personal injury attorney when pursuing such claims.

If you or a loved one have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, contact Polito & Harrington LLC today to schedule a consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.