Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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In this case concerning the proper recipient of heart and hypertension benefits under Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-433c for permanent disability if such benefits vested and were payable during the claimant's lifetime but were not paid to the claimant before his death the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Compensation Review Board concluding that the executrix of the decedent's estate was improperly was substituted as party claimant, holding that heart and hypertension benefits under § 7-433c may be paid to a claimant’s estate if such unpaid benefits matured before the claimant’s death. The Workers' Compensation Commissioner granted the motion to substitute the executrix as a party claimant. The Board concluded that the executrix was improperly substituted as party claimant because a claimant's estate cannot receive the claimant's vested but unpaid section 7-433c benefits. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) neither Morgan v. East Haven, 546 A.2d 243 (Conn. 1988), nor any other legal authority barred the substitution to the extent that the executrix sought payment of matured benefits; but (2) because the record did not support the determination that the decedent's section 7-433c disability benefits matured before his death, this case must be remanded for further proceedings to decide the proper beneficiary of any benefits due. View "Brennan v. Waterbury" on Justia Law

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In this dispute between the Board of Education of the Town of New Milford (Board) and the New Milford Education Association (Union) the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying the Board's application to vacate a grievance arbitration award and granting the Union's application to confirm the grievance arbitration award, holding that the arbitrator did not manifestly disregard the law and properly concluded that the Union's grievance was arbitrable. The Union, which represented the teachers employed by the Board, filed a grievance alleging that the Board had violated an agreement between the parties. The arbitrator decided the grievance in the Union's favor. The trial court denied the Board's application to vacate the grievance arbitration award and granted the Union's application to confirm the award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) correctly denied the Board's application to vacate the grievance arbitration award on the grounds that the arbitrator manifestly disregarded the law by concluding that the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata did not apply to bar the Union's grievance; and (2) the trial court properly concluded that the Union's grievance was arbitrable under the terms of the agreement. View "Board of Education of Town of New Milford v. New Milford Education Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority, on the basis of a rule (Rule) promulgated by Defendant immunizing itself from liability for failures or deficiencies in its supply of water to customers, holding that there was no explicit authorization in the special act creating Defendant that authorized Defendant to promulgate such a rule. Defendant was created in 1967 by a special act of the General Assembly. On the basis of the authority purportedly granted to it by a provision of the special act, Defendant adopted the Rule at issue in this case. Plaintiff later commenced this action seeking damages on the basis of a loss of water service at a hotel operated by Plaintiff. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing (1) the Rule immunized it from liability, and (2) the claim was barred by the common-law economic loss doctrine. The trial court rendered summary judgment for Defendant based on the Rule. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that Defendant lacked authority to promulgate a rule that immunized it from liability for disruptions to water service. View "Raspberry Junction Holding, LLC v. Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Compensation Review Board affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commissioner concluding that Plaintiff was not an employee of Intervale Group, LLC for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Act, holding that Plaintiff qualified as Intervale's employee for purposes of the Act and, therefore, was eligible for concurrent compensation benefits pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-310. Plaintiff was the sole member of Intervale, a single-member limited liability company. Plaintiff was employed part-time by the City of Stamford. After he was injured while working for the City, Plaintiff sought compensation based on the earnings that he received from both the City and Intervale, claiming that he was concurrently employed by Intervale. The City transferred the concurrent compensation obligation to the Second Injury Fund, which denied the claim for benefits on the ground that Plaintiff was not Intervale's employee. The Commissioner concluded that Plaintiff was not an employee of Intervale, and the Board affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Plaintiff provided services to Intervale and was subject to the hazards of Intervale's business, Plaintiff was Intervale's employee for purposes of the Act. View "Gould v. Stamford" on Justia Law

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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