Jury Awards $8 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A jury awarded $8 million against a former Tolland physician and his employees after they were found liable for the death of a Vernon, Connecticut man who killed his wife and then himself in 2009.

James Morrin shot himself in the head after killing his wife, Alice, in June 2009. His estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming that the murder-suicide was the result of “carelessness and negligence” on the part of Morrin’s physician, Carl Koplin.

The jury found Koplin liable for Morrin’s suicide and awarded $8,008,500 in damages to Morrin’s estate.

Although Koplin was technically found liable only for Morrin’s suicide, it was described as “an indivisible act.”

According to the complaint, which names defendants Koplin and three medical groups that employed him, Koplin failed “to exercise that degree of care and skill ordinarily and customarily used by physicians specializing in family practice medicine.” The complaint outlines several examples, including Koplin’s alleged failure to properly evaluate Morrin’s mental state and recognize suicidal tendencies.

The complaint also alleges that Koplin did not perform a careful psychiatric or psychological evaluation, and failed to refer Morrin to a psychiatrist or psychologist for his “serious psychiatric condition.” It was believed that Koplin should have recognized and addressed Morrin’s mental health problems after Morrin sought medical attention for his depression-related symptoms, including sadness, anxiety, fear and problems with his marriage.

According to state records, Koplin voluntarily surrendered his medical license in November 2012.

Koplin’s attorneys say the judge in the case improperly allowed testimony harmful to the defense.

The Morrins were found dead inside their Vernon home on June 29, 2009. Alice Morrin, 43, had filed for divorce from James Morrin on April 13 that year at Superior Court in Rockville. They had two daughters.

It was reported that Alice Morrin worked for about three years as a news assignment editor at FOX CT before beginning a new job as executive assistant to then-publisher of The Courant and general manager of WTIC-TV, about one week before her death.

The jury felt that medical providers are responsible for recognizing and treating mental illness, as well as physical illness. Had Morrin been treated appropriately for his severe depression, perhaps he and his wife would still be here to care for their daughters, the suit claims.

Koplin is serving an unrelated four-year federal prison sentence for child pornography.

Do you think this verdict is reasonable? Should the doctor be held accountable for the murder-suicide due to negligence? Feel free to comment on this blogpost.

For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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