Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment in this action to recover damages for, among other things, violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., and for other relief, holding that Defendant's statements regarding Plaintiff were nonactionable expressions of opinion. Defendant, which publishes research reports in which it rates certain vendors, issued a research report in which it ranked Plaintiff lower than some of its competitors and made critical comments about Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought this action claiming that Defendant had engaged in a "pay to play" scheme that constituted a false and deceptive business practice under CUTPA. Plaintiff also alleged that the report contained false and defamatory statements about Plaintiff. The trial court rendered judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that all of the statements Defendant made about Plaintiff were expressions of nonactionable opinion, and such speech cannot support either Plaintiff's defamation claim or its CUTPA claim. View "Netscout Systems, Inc. v. Gartner, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment rendered in favor of Defendant after the jury found that, although Defendant had perpetrated an intentional assault and battery on Plaintiff, his use of physical force was justified, holding that the trial court improperly instructed the jury, but the error was harmless. Specifically, the jury found that because Plaintiff was trespassing at the time of the incident and Defendant was acting in the defense of others, Defendant's use of physical force against Plaintiff was justified. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on criminal trespass and defense of premises, but the improper jury instruction was harmless because the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's independent finding with respect to the special defense of defense of others; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that Defendant was acting in defense of others when he used physical force against Plaintiff. View "Burke v. Mesniaeff" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court after concluding that expert testimony was necessary to establish the standard of care in this negligence action, holding that, under the facts of this case, expert testimony was not necessary. Plaintiffs, a minor child, by and through her mother, alleged that the City of Waterbury and the Waterbury Board of Education were negligent for injuries sustained by the child during recess at a Waterbury public school. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court improperly found in the absence of expert testimony that Defendants breached their duty of care to the child on the basis that there was an inadequate number of adults on the playground to supervise the students at the time the child was injured. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the fact finder here did not need to apply scientific or specialized knowledge to determine whether Defendants adequately supervised the children in this case. View "Osborn v. Waterbury" on Justia Law

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In this action to recover damages for personal injuries resulting from an allegedly defective product the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that the amendment to the statute of repose in Number 17-97 of the 2017 Public Acts (P.A. 17-97) retroactively applied to Plaintiff's claims. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the statute of repose applied to her product liability claims is unconstitutional because it creates two classes of claimants - employees subject to a ten-year statute of repose and nonemployees not subject to the statute of repose if the claimant shows the product was within its useful safe life when the injury occurred. While Defendants' motions for summary judgment were pending the legislature enacted P.A. 17-97, which combined the two classes of claimants by removing the limitation provision applicable to employees. The trial court concluded that P.A. 17-97 was not retroactive and applied the ten-year statute of repose to bar Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the amendment to the statute of repose in P.A. 17-97 retroactively applied to Plaintiff's claims. The Court remanded to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the injury occurred during the safe life of the product. View "King v. Volvo Excavators AB" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendants' motions for summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiff's claim that Defendants' negligent disposal of cigarettes inside an abandoned, privately owned mill in the town ignited a fire that destroyed both the mill and a sewage line in the basement of the mill, holding that Plaintiff was entitled to the benefit of the alternative liability doctrine for the purpose of proving its case at trial. In granting summary judgment, the trial court found that Plaintiff, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, as subrogee of its insured, the town of Somers, could not establish which of the defendants' cigarettes had sparked the blaze and therefore could not establish causation. In so holding, the trial court refused Plaintiff's request that it adopt the alternative liability doctrine, as set forth in section 433 B(3) of the Restatement (Second). The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) when three threshold requirements have been met, the alternative liability doctrine should be recognized as a limited exception to the general rule that the plaintiff in a negligence action must prove that each of the defendants caused the plaintiff's harm; and (2) the three requirements for application of the doctrine were met in this case. View "Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying the City of Bridgeport's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's complaint that the City was negligent by failing to follow a local emergency service plan and permitting a highway defect to exist, namely, snow, holding that the City was immune for its actions pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 28-13. The trial court rejected the City's argument that this action was barred by common-law governmental immunity and that the City could not invoke the protections of section 28-13 immunity because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the City was actively experiencing a civil preparedness emergency at the time of the death in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) an appealable final judgment existed; and (2) there was no genuine issue of material fact with respect to the applicability of section 28-13, and therefore, the trial court should have granted summary judgment. View "Sena v. American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this negligence action, the Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court's decision determining that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Plaintiff's motion to set aside the jury verdict for Defendants and for a new trial, holding that the jury's responses to certain interrogatories were legally inconsistent. Plaintiff brought this action against Johnley Sainval, a taxicab driver, and Sainval's employer seeking damages for serious injuries she sustained when she was struck by a taxicab that had been stolen from Sainval after Sainval left the vehicle unattended with the key in the ignition. The jury found that Sainval was negligent and that Sainval's negligence was a proximate cause of Plaintiff's injuries but that Defendants were not liable for Plaintiff's injuries because the accident was not within the scope of the risk created by Sainval's negligence. Plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the verdict and for a new trial, but the trial court denied the motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the superseding cause doctrine was inapplicable to the present case; but (2) Plaintiff was entitled to a new trial because the interrogatory responses on which the jury verdict was based were inconsistent as a matter of law. View "Snell v. Norwalk Yellow Cab, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case alleging negligence against a physician, the Supreme Court recognized a third-party cause of action for negligent misreporting of sexually transmitted disease (STD) test results, holding that a physician who mistakenly informs a patient that he does not have an STD may be held liable in ordinary negligence to the patient's exclusive sexual partner for her resulting injuries when the physician knows that the patient sought testing and treatment for the express benefit of that partner. Plaintiff sued Defendant, a physician, alleging that Defendant had been negligent by misreporting the STD test results of her sexual partner. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to strike, concluding that Defendant did not owe a duty of care to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant owed a duty of care to Plaintiff, even though she was not his patient. View "Doe v. Cochran" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on the grounds that the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, 49 U.S.C. 20101 et seq., preempted Plaintiff's negligence claims, holding that Defendant failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Plaintiff's claim was preempted under the railroad act. Plaintiff, individually and as executrix of the estate of her late husband (decedent), filed this action against Defendant, Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company, claiming that the decedent's injuries and death were proximately caused by the negligence of Defendant when it violated practices and customs with respect to track selection. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the subject matter of Plaintiff's claim was covered by federal regulations addressing speed and track classification. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that, to the extent that Plaintiff's claim was viewed as relating to rail safety, it was barred by the railroad act. The Supreme Court reversed after noting the narrow preemption provision in the railroad act, the acknowledgement that the federal regulations provide the minimum safety standards, and the lack of a regulatory provision expressly addressing track selection, Plaintiff's claim was not preempted under the railroad act. View "Murphy v. Darien" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Court upholding the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the municipal defendants in this personal injury action, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact that an agency relationship did not exist between the municipal defendants and the tortfeasor at the time of the motor vehicle accident with Plaintiff. The vehicle being driven by James Smith, a volunteer firefighter with the Old Saybrook Fire Company No. 1, Inc., collided with a motorcycle being driven by Plaintiff. In this action, Plaintiff alleged that the fire company and the town were vicariously liable for Smith's negligence. The municipal defendants moved for summary judgment claiming that Smith was not acting within the scope of his employment with the fire company at the time of the accident because he had left the firehouse and was on his way home. The trial court granted the motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Smith was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, and therefore, the municipal defendants could not be held vicariously liable for Smith's negligence as a matter of law. View "Fiano v. Old Saybrook Fire Co. No. 1, Inc." on Justia Law