Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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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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The Supreme Court held that a trial court has authority to issue a posttermination visitation order that is requested within the context of a termination proceeding.During the termination hearing in this case, counsel for Child asked the trial court to consider an order of posttermination or postadoption visitation between Child and Mother. The trial court terminated Mother's parental rights and then denied the request for posttermination visitation, concluding that it lacked authority to issue an order for post termination visitation. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that a trial court has authority to issue an order for posttermiation visitation so long as the court finds it necessary or appropriate to the child's welfare. View "In re Ava W." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of several crimes in connection with a murder in the city of Hartford in 2002, and remanded this case for a new trial, holding that Defendant's constitutional right to counsel was violated and that, therefore, he was entitled to a new trial on all counts.On appeal, Defendant argued that the State violated its obligation under Messiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201 (Conn. 1964), to respect and preserve the invocation of his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment by using a jailhouse informant deliberately to elicit incriminating statements from Defendant. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Defendant's convictions, holding that the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress the informant's testimony was improper and that Defendant was entitled to a new trial. View "State v. Ashby" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss this action claiming seeking declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the Secretary of State's (Defendant) "ruling of an election official," which added a seventh category for absentee voting, "COVID-19," to the application for absentee ballots for the August 11, 2020 primary election in contemplation of the ongoing pandemic, holding that this Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.Plaintiffs, four candidates in the August primary for the Republican Party's nomination for the office of United States representative for Connecticut's First and Second Congressional Districts, brought this proceeding pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-323, claiming that Defendant's change to the application violated Conn. Const. art. VI, 7 and that the application was inconsistent with the terms of Executive Order No. 7QQ. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that jurisdiction lay in the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford. View "Fay v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss this action seeking an order rescinding an application for absentee ballot for the August 2020 primary elections prepared by the Secretary of State and for other relief, holding that this Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.The four plaintiffs in this case were candidates in the August 2020 primary election for the Republican Party's nomination for the office of United States Representative for Connecticut's First and Second Congressional Districts. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the Secretary of State's (Defendant) ruling adding a seventh category for absentee voting. The Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Conn. Gen. Stat. 2-323, holding that jurisdiction lay in the superior court in the judicial district of Hartford. View "Fay v. Merrill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court concluding that a university police officer is not a member of a "local police department" entitled to indemnification under Conn. Gen. Stat. 53-39a, holding that the Appellate Court correctly interpreted the statute.Plaintiff, a member of a special police force for Eastern Connecticut State University, demanded reimbursement from the State for economic losses he allegedly incurred as a result of his federal criminal prosecution. In his complaint, Plaintiff argued that a university's special police force is a "local police department" for purposes of section 53-39a. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The Appellate Court reversed, holding that a university police officer is not a member of a local police department entitled to indemnification under section 53-39a. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court's reasoning was sound and its conclusion was correct. View "Praisner v. State" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over who had the authority to lease shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town of Branford, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Town, holding that summary judgment was improper.Plaintiffs had been granted the right of first refusal by Branford's Shellfish Commission to lease certain shellfishing grounds located in the Town, but the Commission leased the grounds to Plaintiffs' competitor. Plaintiff brought this action alleging breach of contract and promissory estoppel and that it enjoyed a right of first refusal. The Town moved for summary judgment, arguing that the right of first refusal was no a valid or enforceable contract because the Commission lacked authority to enter into it. The trial court agreed, holding that only the Town's Board of Selectmen had authority to lease the shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "Shoreline Shellfish, LLC v. Branford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction of assault in the third degree, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-61, holding that the Appellate Court did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the Appellate court (1) correctly concluded that Defendant had failed to preserve his claim that the trial court violated his constitutional rights by omitting a defense of personal property instruction with respect to the charge of assault; and (2) correctly concluded that Defendant waived that unpreserved claim of instructional error. View "State v. Ramon A. G." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's denial of Mother's motion for reinstatement of guardianship rights to a parent under Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-611, holding that the trial court improperly denied Mother's motion for reinstatement of guardianship with respect to her minor son.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) under section 45a-611, once a parent demonstrates that the factors that resulted in the removal of the parent as guardian have been satisfactorily resolved, the parent is entitled to a presumption that reinstatement of his or her guardianship rights is in the best interests of the child; and (2) the party opposing reinstatement must rebut the presumption by clear and convincing evidence; and (3) because it was unclear whether the trial court applied this presumption and because the court did not determine whether Mother had rebutted the presumption by clear and convincing evidence, the trial court erred in denying Mother's motion for reinstatement of guardianship. View "In re Zakai F." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law