Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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When Employee received less compensation from Employer than that to which he believed he was entitled, Employee began to work for a competitor of Employer and to receive compensation for that work. Employer later terminated Employee’s employment and filed this action, alleging that Employee had breached the duty of loyalty to Employer by performing work on his own behalf during Employer’s workday and by accepting kickbacks from a subcontractor in connection with his work for Employer. The trial court held that Employee had violated his duty of loyalty to Employer. As part of its remedy, the trial court imposed a constructive trust on a bank account held jointly by Employee and his wife. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court’s award of damages was supported by the evidence; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to order additional monetary relief; and (3) the trial court’s imposition of a constructive trust on the joint bank account was not warranted on the evidence presented. View "Wall Systems, Inc. v. Pompa" on Justia Law

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In this, the second of two diversity actions, federal courts certified questions for the Supreme Court’s advice regarding whether specific theories advanced in actions under Connecticut’s Product Liability Act alleging that a cigarette’s design had increased consumers’ risk of cancer were precluded by the Court’s adoption of comment (i) to section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. In the first of these actions, the Supreme Court advised that the strict liability theory advanced by Plaintiffs was not precluded. In the present action, the Supreme Court answered (1) the Court declines to adopt the Restatement (Third), but refinements to product liability tests under Restatement (Second) will clarify the plaintiffs’ burden of proof in strict liability cases; (2) while all product liability claims require proof of a “defective condition unreasonably dangerous” to the user or consumer, “unreasonably dangerous” is not determined by consumer expectations under comment (i) to section 402A when such a claim may be brought under a theory of negligence; and (3) punitive damages under the Act are not limited by the common-law rule. View "Bifolck v. Philip Morris, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a personal injury action against Defendants. After a jury trial, Plaintiff was awarded $84,283 in economic damages and $40,000 in noneconomic damages. Defendants moved for a collateral source reduction to the award pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-225a, arguing that the economic damages award should be reduced to account for the fact that Plaintiff had paid only $1941 toward his medical expenses and his health insurance coverage had covered the remainder. Plaintiff objected to reduction, arguing that section 52-225a precludes a collateral source reduction when a right of subrogation exists, as it did in the present case. The trial court ordered a collateral source reduction of $24,299. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in ordering a collateral source reduction to the award of economic damages to Plaintiff when there was a right of subrogation, in violation of section 52-225a. View "Marciano v. Jiminez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendants, the superintendent of schools for the Town and the principal of Bacon Academy, among others, after he was struck by a vehicle at the school’s driveway. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants negligently supervised school staff and students during school hours and sought indemnification from the Town for those defendants’ negligence. The Town, superintendent, principal, assistant principals, and members of the Town’s Board of Education moved for summary judgment claiming that governmental immunity shielded them from liability. The trial court granted summary judgment with respect to those defendants, concluding that their duty to supervise school staff and students was discretionary. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as to the assistant principals with respect to Plaintiff’s claim that they breached their ministerial duty to assign school staff to supervise students during school hours; and (2) the trial court properly granted summary judgment in all other respects. View "Strycharz v. Cady" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this action against The Boy Scouts of America Corporation alleging that, while he was a member of the Boy Scouts during the mid-1970s, he was sexually abused during scouting activities by his Boy Scout patrol leader. Plaintiff alleged negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, recklessness, and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff on all claims, and the trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict. Defendant appealed, arguing primarily that the trial court erred in denying its request to charge the jury that Defendant could not be held liable for negligence unless Plaintiff proved that Defendant’s own conduct increased the risk that Plaintiff would be subjected to sexual abuse. The Supreme Court agreed with Defendant and reversed, holding that the trial court improperly denied Defendant’s request to instruct the jury that Defendant could not be held liable for negligence unless Plaintiff proved that Defendant’s conduct created or increased the risk that Plaintiff would be harmed by his patrol leader. Remanded for a new trial. View "Doe v. Boy Scouts of America Corp." on Justia Law

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Defendant served as Plaintiff’s defense counsel in a criminal jury trial in which Plaintiff was convicted of fourteen offenses. While awaiting sentencing, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant, alleging legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. After precluding Plaintiff from presenting expert testimony on the issue of causation due to her failure to disclose an expert witness by a date previously ordered, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that expert testimony was necessary to prove her allegations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that expert testimony was required for Plaintiff to establish the element of causation in her legal malpractice case. View "Bozelko v. Papastavros" on Justia Law

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James Doughty was injured during the course of his employment with Connecticut Reliable Welding, LLC (Reliable). Pacific Insurance Company, Ltd. (Pacific) had issued an insurance policy providing workers’ compensation coverage to Reliable and, therefore, paid Doughty workers’ compensation benefits. Pacific brought this action against Defendants - steel and construction companies - alleging negligence. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that that Pacific did not have standing to bring an action under either Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-293 or the common law doctrine of equitable subrogation. Pacific filed a motion to substitute Reliable as the party plaintiff. The trial court denied Pacific’s motion and granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaint. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a workers’ compensation insurer can maintain an equitable subrogation claim against third-party tortfeasors to recover benefits it has paid on behalf of an insured employer to an injured employee, and therefore, Pacific can properly assert an equitable subrogation claim. Remanded. View "Pacific Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Champion Steel, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s husband was employed by Defendant. Plaintiff discovered her husband’s dead body beneath a vehicle when bringing lunch to him at work. Plaintiff received survivors’ benefits under Defendant’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. Thereafter, Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligent infliction of bystander emotional distress. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the language of the exclusivity provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act and the derivative nature of claims for bystander emotional distress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Act applies to the parties in this case and there is a causal link between Plaintiff’s claim for bystander emotional distress and a compensable injury, Plaintiff’s claim was barred. View "Velecela v. All Habitat Servs., LLC" on Justia Law

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Defendant served as the general contractor for the construction of a gas fired power plant and implemented a contractor controlled insurance program (CCIP) to centralize the purchasing of workers’ compensation insurance for the project. Plaintiffs, employees of Defendant’s subcontractors, were injured at an explosion that occurred at the power plant construction site. Plaintiffs received workers’ compensation benefits under the CCIP. Plaintiffs subsequently brought this action against Defendant under Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-293(a), asserting negligence and strict liability claims. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that Defendant “paid” workers’ compensation benefits to Plaintiffs, thus entitling it to “principal employer” immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court erred in interpreting the term “paid compensation benefits” in section 31-291; but (2) even under the proper construction of section 31-291, no genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Defendant paid compensation benefits to Plaintiffs. View "Gonzalez v. O. & G. Indus., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Jonathan S. Aranow, Shoreline, and Middlesex, alleging that Aranow had left a surgical sponge in plaintiff’s abdominal cavity during gastric bypass surgery. She further alleged that Middlesex was both directly liable for its own negligence and vicariously liable for Aranow’s negligence, and Shoreline was vicariously liable for Aranow’s negligence. At issue is whether plaintiff’s medical malpractice action is barred by the statute of limitations or, instead, the statute of limitations was tolled under the continuing course of treatment doctrine. The court concluded that, to establish that there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the continuing course of treatment doctrine tolled the statute of limitations, plaintiff was required only to present evidence that her abdominal discomfort was caused by the sponge and that she sought continuing treatment for her discomfort from Aranow. In this case, the court concluded that plaintiff has established that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the doctrine applies. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court that plaintiff’s action was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Cefaratti v. Aranow" on Justia Law