Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court reversing the decision of the trial court and sustaining Plaintiff’s appeal, holding that the hearing officer did not abuse his discretion in admitting and relying on a four-page police investigation report (the exhibit) in deciding to suspend Plaintiff’s operator’s license. The Commission of Motor Vehicles suspended Plaintiff’s operator’s license after a hearing at which the hearing officer relied on a report of the incident where Plaintiff was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence and failed a breath test. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the report was unreliable even though it complied with Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-227b(c). The trial court rejected Plaintiff’s claim. The appellate court reversed, concluding that inconsistencies and errors in the exhibit rendered it so unreliable that its admission violated principles of fundamental fairness. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the hearing officer did not abuse his discretion in admitting and relying on the exhibit. View "Do v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court sustaining Plaintiff’s administrative appeal, holding that the trial court erred in determining that Defendant’s proposed revision of boundary lines between certain adjacent lots constituted a new subdivision under Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-18 and erred in applying section III.F.7 of the Burlington Zoning Regulations (regulations). In finding that Defendant’s proposed lot line revisions constituted a subdivision, the trial court applied section IV.B.5 of the regulations, which requires an increased minimum lot area for new subdivisions. The court also applied section III.F.7, which governs the establishment of non-conforming uses on preexisting lots. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant’s proposed lot line revisions did not create a subdivision because the revisions did not divide one parcel of land into three or more parts; and (2) Defendant did not propose the establishment of a nonconforming use because the property lines, as revised, met the size requirements applicable to lots in existence as of October 1, 1983, the date the town of Burlington adopted section IV.B.5 of the regulations. View "Cady v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner of Transportation on the ground that Plaintiff’s personal injury action was barred by sovereign immunity, holding that the waiver of sovereign immunity under Conn. Gen. Stat. 13a-444, the state’s highway defect statute, extended to Plaintiff’s claim that the state police failed to close a bridge before a crew from the Department of Transportation could arrive to address an icy surface on that bridge. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the waiver of sovereign immunity under section 13a-144 extends to the actions of state employees other than those employed by the commissioner, but only to the extent those employees are performing duties related to highway maintenance and the plaintiff proves that a relationship exists between the commissioner and the state employee such that the commissioner can be found to have breached his statutory duty to keep highways, bridges, or sidewalks in repair; and (2) in this case, there was no evidence indicating that the requisite relationship existed between the commissioner and the state police, and therefore, the commissioner could not be held liable for the failure of the state police to close the bridge. View "Graham v. Commissioner of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In this workers’ compensation case, the Supreme Court held that Defendant-employer was collaterally estopped from challenging an employee’s eligibility for benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act (state act), Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-275 et seq., because of an earlier decision by a United States Department of Labor administrative law judge (ALJ) awarding benefits to the employee under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act), 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Compensation Review Board (Board) reversing the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner dismissing the claims for benefits under the state act filed by Plaintiff, the executor of the decedent’s estate and the decedent’s widow. The Court held that the Board properly determined that the employer in this case was collaterally estopped from relitigating the issue of causation under the state act because the record of the Longshore Act proceedings indicated that the ALJ employed the substantial factor standard that governed the proceedings under the state act. View "Filosi v. Electric Boat Corp." on Justia Law

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At issue was the degree to which Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-470 constrains the discretion of the habeas court as to when it may act on the Commissioner of Correction’s motion for an order to show good cause why a habeas petition should be permitted to proceed when a petitioner has delayed filing the petition. In this case, the Commissioner filed a motion requesting the habeas court to order Petitioner to show cause why his untimely filed petition should be permitted to proceed. The court interpreted section 52-470 to deprive it of discretion to act on the motion prior to the close of all proceedings and thus took no action on the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 52-470(e) applied in this case and did not limit the discretion of the habeas court as to when it may act on a motion for an order to show cause why an untimely petition should be permitted to proceed; and (2) therefore, the habeas court erred in determining that it lacked discretion to act on the Commissioner’s order to show cause because the pleadings were not yet closed. View "Kelsey v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court granting the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s administrative appeal from the Commission’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss an employment discrimination complaint brought by a former female employee, holding that the Commission’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss was not an immediately appealable order. A former female employee of Plaintiff, a religious school, filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that Plaintiff had wrongfully terminated her employment on the basis of her sex, marital status, and pregnancy. Plaintiff moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing it was immune from employment discrimination actions under the ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws. The Commission denied Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff appealed. The trial court granted the Commission’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that Plaintiff had failed to make a colorable claim of immunity under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-571b(d) and, therefore, the Commission’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the employment discrimination complaint was not an immediately appealable order. View "Trinity Christian School v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court determining that Plaintiff, Walgreen Eastern Company, Inc., had established aggrievement under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a by showing that the valuation of Plaintiff’s property by Defendant, the Town of West Hartford, was excessive. The Court further affirmed the trial court’s judgment determining the true and actual value of the subject property and concluding that the Town’s valuation of the subject property was not manifestly excessive under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-119. After the Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) upheld the town assessor’s valuation, Plaintiff appealed to the superior court, which (1) found Plaintiff satisfied its burden of proving aggrievement; and (2) rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its section 12-117a count and in favor of the Town on Plaintiff’s section 12-119 count. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the relief awarded by the trial court was sufficient because the court properly determined the true and actual value of Plaintiff’s property; and (2) the trial court properly determined that Plaintiff did not meet its burden to establish a claim under section 12-119. View "Walgreen Eastern Co. v. Town of West Hartford" on Justia Law

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Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51bb permitted Plaintiff to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission alleging that the City of New Haven had violated Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-290a by wrongfully terminating his employment in retaliation for bringing a workers’ compensation claim, notwithstanding that a related issue had previously been decided by the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration in an arbitration proceeding brought pursuant to Plaintiff’s collective bargaining agreement. The Compensation Review Board determined that, under section 31-51bb, Plaintiff’s claim brought before the Commission pursuant to section 31-290a was not barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 31-51bb permitted Plaintiff to file a claim with the Commission pursuant to section 31-290a under the circumstances of this case. View "Williams v. City of New Haven" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting an application by five individual electors of the Town of Fairfield (collectively, Plaintiffs) for a writ of mandamus compelling a special election for a vacant seat on the Board of Selectmen. On appeal, the Town and its Board (collectively, Defendants) argued that the trial court improperly issued the writ of mandamus. Specifically, Defendants argued that article VI, 6.3(B) of the Fairfield Town Charter, which does not provide for a special election when the Board has acted to fill a vacancy within thirty days, was controlling over Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-222, which provides for the possibility of a petition for a special election to fill a vacancy on the Board even after the Board has acted. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the charter provision controlled the method by which to fill the vacancy on the Board; and (2) because the Board timely designated a new selectman, the provision of the charter directing resort to Conn. Gen. Stat. chapter 146, which could have required a special election pursuant to section 9-222, was not triggered. View "Cook-Littman v. Board of Selectmen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court rendering judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its claim of unjust enrichment. On appeal, Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim was barred by collateral estoppel, that Plaintiff’s recovery was precluded by law and the terms of an agreement between the parties, the trial court’s jury instructions were improper, and the trial court erred in excluding certain evidence. In affirming, the Court held that many of Defendant’s arguments were unpreserved, inadequately briefed, or both, and that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his assignments of error. View "MacDermid, Inc. v. Leonetti" on Justia Law