Appellate Court Rejects Plaintiffs’ Bid for Continued Anonymity in Civil Action Against H & S Client

In James Doe, et. al. v. [Defendant Pediatrician], — Conn. App. — (Slip. Op. May 23, 2017), a unanimous panel of the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ motion to allow them to continue to use pseudonyms in their civil action against the defendant, a pediatrician the plaintiffs accuse of sexually assaulting them while they were his minor patients. The trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion because it was unable to conclude, based on the record the plaintiffs provided and insisted was sufficient, that the plaintiffs’ claimed privacy interests outweighed the public’s interest in knowing their names. Although the plaintiffs were afforded the opportunity to present evidence in the trial court, they refused and maintained, instead, that the allegations of their Complaint and the affidavits they eventually provided were enough.

The plaintiffs continued their insistence on appeal. The Appellate Court, however, agreed with Halloran & Sage’s argument on behalf of the defendant that the plaintiffs’ proffer was unavailing. The Court deemed the plaintiffs’ affidavits conclusory because they merely stated the general nature of the privacy interests they claimed, but they did not provide factual or evidentiary support for those claims, and it concluded that this was not enough to overcome the high threshold for proving that the plaintiffs are entitled to maintain the privilege of anonymity throughout these proceedings. In doing so, it reiterated that Connecticut’s rules of practice do not allow for automatic approval of the use of pseudonyms, even in cases involving allegations of sexual assault, and it rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that, based on the record they chose to rely upon, the trial court could only have granted their motion.

Laura Pascale Zaino, member of Halloran & Sage’s Appellate Practice Group, argued the appeal for the defendant. Richard C. Tynan and Evan M. O’Hara secured the trial court order the Appellate Court affirmed.