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Family Awarded $8 Million in Case Against Koplin, Practice After 2009 Murder-Suicide

The murder-suicide was on Gerald Drive in Vernon.

Photo Credit: Patch
Photo Credit: Patch
A Waterbury Superior Court jury has awarded more than $8 million to the family of a Vernon man whose "untreated mental illness" resulted in a 2009 murder-suicide, lawyers for the plaintiffs said on Thursday.

In June 2009, James Morrin, 45, fatally shot his wife Alice Morrin, 43 twice with a shotgun, and then shot himself, according to police records and a news release from the firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder. 

A jury on Monday awarded $8,008,500 in damages to the family after finding against former Tolland- and Vernon-based physician Carl Koplin and Healthwise Medical Group, according to the news release. 

“This case underscores that primary care providers, who are in a unique position to recognize early signs of mental health problems in their patients, need to be part of any discussion about effective intervention and treatment,” said Joshua Koskoff of the Bridgeport-based law firm that represented the Morrin family. “James desperately needed his doctors to listen to him in the two months leading up to the murder-suicide, but they repeatedly failed to do so.  I think the jury made clear with this verdict that people are sick and tired of point and click medicine.”

The incident was on June 28, 2009 at 106 Gerald Dr., in Vernon, police records indicate.  

The case was brought by James’ mother, Mary Morrin on behalf of the Morrin children, who were 9 and 15 at the time of their parents’ deaths, according the the news release.

In April of 2009, Morrin sought medical attention for a host of depression-related symptoms including anxiety, fear, sadness, persistent insomnia, marital problems, weight loss, and inability to concentrate, according the the news release.

A jury in December found Koplin and "other personnel" at Healthwise liable for James Morrin’s death, according the the news release.
The Christmas and New Year’s holidays delayed the jury’s decision on damages until this week.

“The jury’s verdict is a reflection of the ease with which this tragedy could have been avoided had the doctor correctly evaluated what were obvious symptoms of severe depression,” Koskoff said.

“In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, the relationship between untreated mental illness and gun violence has once again sparked considerable debate.  Although an assessment of access to firearms is standard practice in the psychiatric community when a patient is at risk for suicide, this case tragically illustrates the inadequacy of that system when patients at risk are not referred for appropriate treatment,” said Katie Mesner-Hage, who tried the case along with Koskoff. Koplin is currently serving a federal prison sentence for receipt of child pornography.

The case can be viewed at:

 http://vernon.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/family-doctor-who-practiced-in-vernon-gets-51-months-...
Concerned Citizen January 09, 2014 at 02:40 PM
Another ridiculous judgment by a jury. How is a doctor solely responsible to judge whether his patient will potentially commit a hideous crime. This is the case of the lawyers seeing the potential to receive a large fee. They will get 3.2 million which is all they care about. Why didn't his wife and mother take more action to get him the help he needed? I hope that this case gets appealed and then overturn or at the very least a smaller settlement. It ends up costing everybody in the end with higher costs charged by doctors and the insurance companies.
Vernon Taxpayer January 09, 2014 at 03:08 PM
Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. Our Doctors need to take responsibility when prescribing medication to their patients and families.
Betty Lou January 10, 2014 at 12:05 PM
This is disturbing - and placing more responsibility - and blame - on a physician. He most likely spent more time with his family than with his doctor - what did they do? or NOT do? What happens now when someone commits a heinous murder - their doctor going to be responsible too??
Dave M January 15, 2014 at 03:22 PM
The money from the lawsuit is going to their two daughters, who became orphans the night Jim decided to kill his wife and then paint the wall behind him with his brains. Also, the doctor deserves to be sued for any amount of money- did you guys miss that part in the article about Koplin being in prison for child pornography. Look up that story and you'll see it's because he was caught with the largest collection of pornography in the history of the state. Over 800 GB! Koplin shouldn't just have all his money taken away, he should also have his kneecaps busted for being the sick, sick piece of garbage he is. 8 million? 12 million? 30 million? Take it all away from him, on behalf of the *thousands* of children whose lives are are now ruined because of him and people like him. So no, it's not unfair for him to be sued. He does not deserve people supporting him. He's pedophile trash who deserves any possible punishment. He had a duty to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional unbalance. That's his job. But he didn't. he didn't do his job- malpractice. He's NOT responsible for the murders, but he was one of the factors that led to this. And a simple psych eval would have happened. Instead Jim murdered my aunt Alice.

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