Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting the state's motion to dismiss this tort action, holding that a state's waiver of sovereign immunity in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-556 for claims arising from a state employee's negligent operation of a state-owned and -insured motor vehicle extends to litigants who are state employees.Plaintiff, a state employee, was a passenger in a motor vehicle owned and insured by the state and operated by another state employee, William Texidor, when another vehicle operated by Tyreke Brooks struck their vehicle. Brooks' vehicle was uninsured. Plaintiff, who applied for and received workers' compensation benefits, brought this action agains the state and Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company alleging that Texidor's operation of the vehicle was negligent. The state filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground of sovereign immunity. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court had jurisdiction pursuant to the waiver of sovereign immunity in section 52-556; (2) Plaintiff's action against the state was barred by Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-284(a); and (3) therefore, the form of judgment was improper, and the case is remanded with direction to render judgment for the state. View "Feliciano v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Compensation Review Board affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission awarding Plaintiff permanent partial disability benefits of twenty-three percent based on the function of his transplanted heart, holding that the Board correctly treated the transplanted heart as an organ rather than a prosthetic device.At issue was whether Plaintiff, who underwent a heart transplant, was entitled to a specific indemnity award for permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act for the total loss of Plaintiff's native heart or whether the award should be based, instead, on the rated function of Plaintiff's transplanted heart. Plaintiff was awarded benefits based on the function of his transplanted heart. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that his transplanted heart was akin to a prosthetic device, and therefore, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-308(b) required compensation for the 100 percent loss of his native heart. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the transplant meant that Plaintiff had not suffered a complete loss of his heart within the meaning of section 31-308(b). View "Vitti v. Milford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the Compensation Review Board finding that the City of Bridgeport was liable for the payment of Plaintiff's workers compensation benefits as his principal employer, holding that the City was in the "trade or business" of maintaining and repairing municipal buildings and facilities.The City hired Contractor do repair work on the roof of the City's transfer facility, and Contractor hired Subcontractor. Plaintiff, an employee of Subcontractor, was injured in the course and scope of his employment and sought workers' compensation benefits from the City, Contractor, and Subcontractor. The Workers' Compensation Commissioner concluded that, because Howie's Roofing was uninsured, the Second Injury Fund was required to pay Plaintiff benefits under Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-355. The Fund contested liability, arguing that the City was required to pay the benefits owed to Plaintiff as his principal employer. The Commissioner determined that the City was Plaintiff's principal employer and ordered the City to pay workers' compensation benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that roof repair was a part or process in the City's trade or business under Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-291. View "Barker v. All Roofs by Dominic" on Justia Law

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In this public interest appeal the Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court sanctioning Defendants after finding that Defendants had violated numerous discovery orders and engaged in harassing and intimidating behavior directed at Plaintiffs' counsel, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiffs, a first responder and family members of those killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, brought these actions against Alex Jones and his affiliate corporate entities claiming that statements made on Jones' radio show were tortious. At issue were orders of the trial court sanctioning Defendants by revoking their opportunity to pursue the special motions to dismiss provided by the anti-SLAPP statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-196a. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sanctioning Defendants for discovery violations and for Jones' conduct; and (2) Defendants were afforded adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to respond before the trial court imposed sanctions. View "Lafferty v. Jones" on Justia Law

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In this case stemming from a fatal automobile accident arising from a high-speed police pursuit, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of a town and its municipal officers, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that Defendants were shielded by governmental and qualified immunity from liability for the decision to pursue the fleeing motorist.The decedent, a passenger in the vehicle that was pursued by police officers, was killed when the vehicle struck an embankment and turned over onto its roof. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that the police officers were negligent in pursuing the vehicle and that the town was liable for the negligent acts of its agents and employees. The trial court concluded that the officers' alleged actions involved the exercise of discretion and that an exception to discretionary act immunity did not apply. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-283(d) imposes a discretionary duty on police officers to give due regard to the safety of all persons and property when determining whether to engage a pursuit; and (2) the trial court did not err in concluding that the identifiable person-imminent harm exception to governmental immunity did not apply in the present case. View "Borelli v. Renaldi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendants, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Boehringer Ingelheim International, GmbH, on claims brought by Plaintiff, the executrix of the decedent's estate, that an oral anticoagulant medication wrongfully caused the decedent's death, holding that the trial court did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not improperly (1) preclude evidence and arguments related to spoliation; (2) prevent Plaintiff from using an excerpt from a particular deposition on rebuttal; (3) grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment on a design defect claim relating to the absence of a reversal agent; and (4) issue a curative instruction to the jury after closing arguments. View "Boone v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendants on numerous tort claims following an unsuccessful pelvic mesh surgery, holding that the trial court properly directed a verdict on Plaintiffs' innocent misrepresentation claim because that claim did not lie as a matter of law in this context.In their complaint, Plaintiffs alleged lack of informed consent, innocent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, and loss of consortium. The court directed a verdict for Plaintiffs on the innocent misrepresentation claim. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict for Defendants on the remaining counts. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly (1) excluded two medical journal articles from evidence as hearsay when they had been offered to prove notice; and (2) directed a verdict for Defendants on the innocent misrepresentation claims. View "Farrell v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law

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In this negligence action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court declining to review Plaintiff's claim that the trial court improperly rejected her request to instruct the jury that Defendants had a nondelegable duty to maintain the premises where she slipped and fell, holding that the Appellate Court erred in concluding that the general verdict rule barred appellate review of Plaintiff's jury instruction claim.Plaintiff sued Defendants, her landlords, for injuries she suffered when she slipped and fell on a staircase outside of her apartment building. The trial court entered judgment for Defendants. Plaintiff appealed, challenging the trial court's refusal to instruct the jury that Defendants, as the possessors of real property, had a nondelegable duty to maintain the premises. The Appellate Court declined to review Plaintiff's claims, concluding that because Plaintiff failed to object when the trial court denied her request to submit her proposed interrogatories to the jury the general verdict rule applied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the general verdict rule did not apply because Plaintiff had requested that the trial court submit her properly framed interrogatories to the jury and had objected when it denied her request. View "Garcia v. Cohen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Compensation Review Board, which vacated the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commissioner dismissing Plaintiff's claim for benefits brought pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-433c(a), holding that Plaintiff met the jurisdictional prerequisites of section 7-433c and that, on remand, the Commissioner shall determine whether Plaintiff's hypertension was a substantial factor in his subsequent development of heart disease.The Commissioner found that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits for heart disease because he failed to file a notice of new claim within one year of his diagnosis. In making this finding, the Commissioner rejected Plaintiff's argument that his heart disease diagnosis was the sequela of his compensable claim for hypertension. The Board vacated the Commissioner's dismissal because the Commissioner did not present findings as to whether Plaintiff's heart disease was caused by his hypertension or constituted a new injury. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case, holding (1) when a plaintiff has a compensable claim for hypertension under section 7-433c, the plaintiff may also be eligible for benefits for subsequent heart disease if his heart disease is causally related to his hypertension; and (2) Plaintiff was not required to file a notice of new claim in order to pursue benefits for his heart disease. View "Dickerson v. Stamford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Compensation Review Board, which reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commissioner denying benefits to Plaintiff pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-433c(a), holding that the Board incorrectly determined that Plaintiff's heart disease claim was untimely.The Commissioner found that Plaintiff was neither diagnosed with heart disease nor filed a claim for that disease under section 7-433c until after he had retired. Therefore, the Commissioner concluded that Plaintiff's disease and resulting disability were not suffered while Plaintiff was employed by Defendant and that even if Plaintiff was developing heart disease while he was employed by Defendant that was not sufficient to make the claim compensable. The Board reversed, concluding that it was reasonable to infer that Plaintiff's heart disease was the sequela of his accepted claim under section 7-433c for hypertension. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's initial claim for hypertension met the requirements of section 7-433c, was timely, and was compensable; and (2) the Board reasonably concluded that Plaintiff's heart disease was the sequela of his hypertension, which was the injury at issue in his primary claim. View "Coughlin v. Stamford Fire Department" on Justia Law