Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

by
The Supreme Court held that there is no right to a jury trial in an action brought under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-556, which waives sovereign immunity for claims arising from a state employee’s negligent operation of a state owned motor vehicle. Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to section 52-556 against the Department of Transportation and claimed the action to the jury trial list. Defendant filed a motion to strike the case from the jury trial list, arguing that section 52-556 creates a new cause of action, unknown at common law, such that the plaintiff has no right to a jury trial. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion and struck the action from the jury trial list. After a trial to the court, the court rendered judgment for Plaintiff, awarding him damages. Plaintiff appealed, challenging the trial court’s determination that section 52-556 does not afford him the right to a jury trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there is no right to a jury trial for an action brought under section 52-556. View "Smith v. Rudolph" on Justia Law

by
At issue was the extent of an employer’s right to a credit against its obligation to pay workers’ compensation benefits for an injured employee who has recovered damages from a third-party tortfeasor that caused the employee’s injuries. Under an amendment to Conn. Stat. 31-293(a), even if the employer is owed more than is recovered in the third-party action, the employee retains one-third of the proceeds for her sole benefit. In dispute was whether the employer has a right to a setoff against its obligation to pay for post-judgment workers’ compensation benefits until those benefits exceed the one-third portion that the employee received from the proceeds of the third-party action. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the decision of the workers’ compensation commissioner that the defendant employer was entitled to a “moratorium,” or the credit afforded the employer against any later arising benefits in the amount of any proceeds the employee received in the third-party action. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the employee’s one-third portion is not subject to the moratorium because the application of the moratorium to the one-third reduction would conflict with and undermine the purpose of P.A. 11-205, which amended section 31-293(a). Moreover, the legislature intended for the employee alone to retain the benefit of the one-third reduction. View "Callaghan v. Car Parts International, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding that Defendants had trespassed on property that Plaintiff owned. When Plaintiff commenced this action alleging trespass Defendants claimed that Plaintiff could not establish its ownership or possessory interest in the property on which Defendants were building. The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiff and issued a permanent mandatory injunction ordering Defendants to remove structures from Plaintiff’s property that were not authorized by the permits issued to Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Plaintiff owned the subject property, and (2) the scope of the trial court’s injunctive relief was not overly broad. View "FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. v. Stewart" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court, which reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendants on the grounds that Plaintiff’s action was barred by governmental immunity as a matter of law. Plaintiff, administratrix of the estate of Elsie White, brought this action against Defendants, constables in the town of Westbrook, alleging that Defendants’ negligence was the proximate cause of White’s accidental drowning. The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendants. In reversing, the Appellate Court concluded that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Defendants’ conduct fell within the identifiable person, imminent harm exception to governmental immunity. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the Appellate Court erred in determining that a jury reasonably could find that White was an identifiable person subject to imminent harm for purposes of abrogating Defendants’ governmental immunity. View "Brooks v. Powers" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether the trial court erred in determining that Plaintiff proved the imminent harm to identifiable persons exception to the defense of governmental immunity with respect to injuries he sustained when other students ran with a pair of scissors in the auditorium of his school. Plaintiff filed suit against the City of New Haven, the Board of Education of the City of New Haven, and the Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools seeking damages for, inter alia, negligent supervision of students. The trial court found in favor of Plaintiff on his negligent supervision claim. The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to prove that Defendants’ conduct subjected an identifiable person to imminent harm; and (2) the trial court implicitly granted Defendants’ request to amend their answer to plead governmental immunity as a special defense. View "Martinez v. New Haven" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether the trial court erred in determining that Plaintiff proved the imminent harm to identifiable persons exception to the defense of governmental immunity with respect to injuries he sustained when other students ran with a pair of scissors in the auditorium of his school. Plaintiff filed suit against the City of New Haven, the Board of Education of the City of New Haven, and the Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools seeking damages for, inter alia, negligent supervision of students. The trial court found in favor of Plaintiff on his negligent supervision claim. The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to prove that Defendants’ conduct subjected an identifiable person to imminent harm; and (2) the trial court implicitly granted Defendants’ request to amend their answer to plead governmental immunity as a special defense. View "Martinez v. New Haven" on Justia Law

by
A duty of confidentiality arises from the physician-patient relationship, and unauthorized disclosure of confidential information obtained in the course of that relationship for the purpose of treatment gives rise to a cause of action sounding in tort against the health care provider, unless the disclosure is otherwise allowed by law. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court entering judgment in favor of Defendant, Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.C., on Plaintiff’s claims of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on these counts because the court improperly concluded that Defendant, as a health care provider, owed Plaintiff no duty of confidentiality. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Defendant violated the duty of confidentiality under the facts of this case. View "Byrne v. Avery Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology, P.C." on Justia Law

by
In this case arising from four deaths from a house fire the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court concluding that a jury reasonably could find that the municipal defendants were potentially liable pursuant to Connecticut’s municipal liability statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-557n(b)(8). A mother and her three children lost their lives in a fire in a Bridgeport public housing complex. Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-305(b), the Bridgeport fire marshal’s office is required to conduct annual inspections of all multifamily residential units within Bridgeport. Plaintiff brought this action against the Bridgeport Fire Department and five Bridgeport city officials alleging that the decedents died as a result of Defendants’ negligent failure to inspect the smoke detection equipment in their unit for compliance with applicable fire safety regulations and codes. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that section 52-557n afforded them immunity. The Appellate Court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a jury, considering all of the relevant circumstances, reasonably could find that Defendants demonstrated “a reckless disregard for health or safety under all the relevant circumstances,” and therefore, that they were potentially liable under section 52-557n(b)(8). View "Williams v. Housing Authority of City of Bridgeport" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether an insurer was obligated to indemnify a business owner under a personal insurance policy for liability arising form his false imprisonment of his company’s employee at her workplace. The business owner appealed, challenging the appellate court’s determination that such liability fell under the business pursuits exclusion to coverage under his personal umbrella policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) neither the appellate court nor the trial court employed the correct standard for determining whether the business owner’s tortious conduct was an occurrence “arising out of” the business pursuits of the insured; (2) remand was necessary to determine whether the business pursuits exception applied under the correct standard; and (3) Plaintiffs could not prevail on their alternative grounds regarding other exclusions and public policy as a matter of law. View "Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Pasiak" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment for the Town of Hebron on this complaint brought by Plaintiffs seeking damages for a temporary taking, temporary nuisance, and tortious interference with Plaintiffs’ business expectancies. The trial court concluded that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata because they arose out of the same operative facts as Plaintiffs’ earlier-filed claim for injunctive relief against the Town. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to identify a sufficiently compelling reason to exempt their claims from the preclusive effect of res judicata. View "Wellswood Columbia, LLC v. Town of Hebron" on Justia Law