Bradley v. Central Naugatuck Valley Help, Inc

In Bradley v. Central Naugatuck Valley Help, Inc, 25 Conn L Rptr 178; 1999 WL 596359 (Conn Super, July 29, 1999) the plaintiff had been a patient in a facility run by the state's Department of Mental Health for treatment relating to a traumatic brain injury, seizure disorder and alcoholism. The plaintiff was released from that facility in February 1993 and placed in a community residence owned and operated by the defendant. In April 1993, the plaintiff's decedent was struck by a car after leaving the facility, without authorization, to buy alcohol. In concluding that genuine issues of fact remained regarding whether the defendants owed a duty of reasonable care to plaintiff, the court noted: The defendants also argue that the plaintiff was a voluntary resident and that they had no right to detain or confine him and therefore had no duty of care towards him. However, "it is said that when a patient enters a hospital maintained for private profit, he is entitled to such reasonable attention as his safety may require; and if he is temporarily bereft of reason, and is known by the hospital authorities to be in danger of self-destruction, the authorities are in duty bound to use reasonable care to prevent such an act." Hawthorne v. Blythewood, Inc., 118 Conn. 617, 623, 174 A. 81 (1934), quoting Mulliner v. Evangelischer Diakonniessenverein, 144 Minn. 392, 294, 175 N.W. 699 , 175 N.W. 699 1920. Although the defendant . . . is not a hospital, it is a facility for the care and treatment of mentally ill adults that receives consideration for doing so. The defendants received consideration for taking the plaintiff in as a resident. They knew or should have known about his problems with alcoholism and his tendencies to leave the facility to buy alcohol and become intoxicated. Even if the plaintiff's residency was voluntary, the plaintiff's voluntary submission to the defendants' authority raises an implied obligation on the part of the defendants to give the plaintiff such reasonable care and attention for his safety as his mental and physical condition required because the defendants received compensation for caring for the plaintiff and knew of the plaintiff's condition. See Hawthorne v. Blythewood, Inc., supra, 118 Conn. 623.