ABBOTT TERRACE HEALTH CENTER, INC. v. ENID JOYCE.

2008 Ct. Sup. 7521, 45 CLR 432
No. CV07-5005081Connecticut Superior Court Judicial District of Waterbury at Waterbury
May 5, 2008

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.]

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION TO STRIKE
VINCENT E. ROCHE, JUDGE.

The defendant moves to strike count two of the plaintiff’s revised complaint, which alleges that plaintiff is due a sum of $52,209.70 as a result of Thomas Joyce’s residency at the plaintiff’s facility and the services and/or articles provided to him by plaintiff pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-37(b), on the ground that § 46b-37(b) does not provide that spouses are liable for nursing home expenses of the other spouse.

Section 46b-37(b) provides: “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)[1] of this section, it shall be the joint duty of each spouse to support his or her family, and both shall be liable for: (1) The reasonable and necessary services of a physician or dentist; (2) hospital expenses rendered the husband or wife or minor child while residing in the family of his or her parents; (3) the rental of any dwelling unit actually occupied by the husband and wife as a residence and reasonably necessary to them for that purpose; and (4) any article purchased by either which has in fact gone to the support of the family, or for the joint benefit of both.”

“Cases that have considered the applicability of § 46b-37(b) have held that the statute must be strictly construed and not expanded any further than what the legislature intended. In Yale University School of Medicine v. Collier, 206 Conn. 31, 37, 536 A.2d 588 (1988), the Connecticut Supreme Court stated that `[b]ecause § 46b-37(b) is in derogation of the common law and creates liability where formerly none existed it should be strictly construed and not enlarged in its scope by the mechanics of construction.’ In Olympus Healthcare Group, Inc. v. Fazo, Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Docket No. CV 02 0173524 (July 31, 2003, Gallagher, J.) (35 Conn. L. Rptr. 249, 251), the trial court strictly construed § 46b-37(b) and held that the statute does not impose liability for nursing home care, rather it `imposes liability for only two types of medical expenses: the services of a physician or dentist and hospital expenses.’ The statute creates CT Page 7522 liability for those expenses expressly stated in the statute. See als Medstar, Inc. v. DiCarlo, Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Docket No. CV96-0134469 (September 30, 1996, Vertefeuille, J.) (17 Conn. L. Rptr. 638, 638) (court strictly construed § 46b-37(b) and concluded that the language of the statute imposes liability for only two types of medical expenses).” Bochicchio v. Porzio Law Offices, LLP, Superior Court, judicial district of Litchfield, Docket No. CV 06 4004491 (August 2, 2006, Pickard, J.) (41 Conn. L. Rptr. 748, 749).

Applying a narrow interpretation of statute, § 46b-37(b) does not provide that spouses are liable for nursing home expenses of the other spouse. It is therefore found that the defendant’s motion to strike count two is hereby granted.

[1] General Statute § 46b-37(a) provides: “Any purchase made by either a husband or wife in his or her own name shall be presumed, in the absence of notice to the contrary, to be made by him or her as an individual and he or she shall be liable for the purchase.”

CT Page 7523