Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court ordering the disclosure of a redacted version of a police report created by the police department at the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital documenting the police department's investigation into the death of a Whiting patient after a medical event, holding that the report, with minimal redaction, must be disclosed pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-200 et seq.After the trial court ordered the disclosure of a redacted version of the police report the Freedom of Information Commission appealed, arguing that the report should be released in its entirety under FOIA because it was not exempt for disclosure by the psychiatrist-patient communications privilege set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-146d(2) and 52-146e(a), as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 42 U.S.C. 1320d et seq., as implemented by the Privacy Rule, 45 C.F.R. 160.101 et seq. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the police report was not a communication or record exempt from disclosure under FOIA; and (2) because the report included identifiable patient information, the report should be redacted in the manner described in this opinion. View "Comm'r of Mental Health & Addiction Services v. Freedom of Information Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the superior court dismissing for lack of jurisdiction High Watch Recovery Center, Inc.'s administrative appeal challenging the decision of the Department of Public Health approving a certificate of need application submitted by Birch Hill Recovery Center, LLC, holding that the appellate court erred.Birch Hill submitted a certificate of need application to the Office of Health Care Access requesting public approval to establish a substance abuse treatment facility in Kent. The Department and Birch Hill entered into an agreed settlement constituting a final order wherein the Department approved Birch Hill's application subject to certain conditions. High Watch, which operated a nonprofit substance abuse treatment facility, intervened and appealed the final order. The superior court dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the Department's decision was not a final decision in a contested case and that High Watch was not aggrieved by the decision. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the appellate court did not err in determining that High Watch's petition requesting intervenor status in the public hearing on Birch Hill's certificate of need application was not a legal sufficient request for a public hearing for the purposes of Conn. Gen. Stat. 19a-639a(e). View "High Watch Recovery Center, Inc. v. Dep't of Public Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights as to his minor child (Child), holding that the trial court did not violate Father's right to adequate notice when it terminated Father's parental rights after the close of the evidence pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 17-112(j)(3)(B)(ii).At the close of the evidence in this case the Commissioner of Children and Families moved to amend the petition to allege a different ground for the termination of Father's rights. The trial court granted the motion pursuant to Practice Book section 34a-1(d). Thereafter, the Commissioner of Children and Families filed an amended summary of the facts in support of its petition claiming that grounds existed for termination of Father's parental rights pursuant to section 17a-112(j)(3)(B)(ii). At the conclusion of trial, the trial court granted the petition to terminate Father's parental rights on ground (B)(ii). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not violate Father's constitutional due process right to adequate notice by allowing the Commissioner to amend the petition after the close of the evidence and terminating Father's parental rights pursuant to ground (B)(ii). View "In re Gabriel S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) establishing a regulatory framework for a certain renewable energy product, holding that the trial court correctly correctly determined that the reactions did not violate the dormant commerce clause.In 2020, PURA imposed a series of restrictions on retail electric suppliers offering Connecticut customers voluntary products, known as voluntary renewable offers (VROs), consisting of renewable energy credits (REC) bundled with electric supply. One of the restrictions at issue, the geographic restriction, prohibited VROs from containing RECs sourced outside of particular geographic regions. The other restriction, the marketing restriction, required suppliers to provide clear language informing consumers that a VRO backed by RECs is an energy product backed by RECs rather than a renewable energy itself. Plaintiffs argued that both restrictions violated the dormant commerce clause. The trial court rejected Plaintiffs' commerce clause arguments as to each restriction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error. View "Direct Energy Services, LLC v. Public Utilities Regulatory Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing the appeal brought by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in this housing discrimination case, holding that this Court was compelled to affirm.For several years, Richard Cantillon harassed his neighbor, Kelly Howard, by making obscene gestures, calling her racial epithets, and physically menacing Howard. Howard eventually filed a neighbor versus neighbor claim with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, alleging that Cantillon had violated her civil rights on account of her race. Cantillon defaulted, and the referee awarded Plaintiff $15,000 in damages. The Commission appealed the award as insufficient, but neither Howard nor Cantillon participated in the appeal. The trial court dismissed the appeal, concluding that there was no legal basis for it to second-guess the amount of the award. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court appropriately resolved the Commission's claims under the circumstances of this case. View "Comm'n on Human Rights & Opportunities v. Cantillon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the decision of the Compensation Review Board upholding the finding and award of the Workers' Compensation Commissioner for the Second Districting ordering the town of Waterford to accept as compensable Plaintiff's claim for heart disease benefits pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-433c, holding that the appellate court erred.In concluding that Plaintiff was entitled to benefits the Commissioner determined that section 7-433c does not define the phrase "uniformed member of a paid municipal fire department." The appellate court affirmed. On appeal, the town argued that the appellate court erred in determining that the definition of "member" in Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-425(5) does not govern whether the plaintiff was a uniformed member of a paid municipal fire department for purposes of section 7-433c. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the definition of "member" in section 7-425(5) governs eligibility for benefits under section 7-433c. View "Clark v. Waterford, Cohanzie Fire Dep't" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying a motion to intervene on the grounds that it was untimely, holding that the proposed intervenors were not entitled to relief on their claim of error.Plaintiffs appealed to the trial court from a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of New Canaan (Board) upholding the issuance of a zoning permit to Grace Farms Foundation, the intervening defendant. Nearly nineteen months later and after the trial court issued a decision remanding the case to the Board for further proceedings, the proposed intervenors brought the motion to intervene at issue. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that it was untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the motion to intervene as of right was untimely. View "Markatos v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court dismissing Petitioner's appeal from the judgment of the superior court dismissing Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Practice Book section 23-29 requires the habeas court to provide prior notice of the court’s intention to dismiss, on its own motion, a petition that it deems legally deficient and an opportunity to be heard on the papers by filing a written response.Acting on its own motion and without prior notice, the habeas court dismissed Petitioner's habeas petition as repetitious under section 23-29(3). The appellate court dismissed Petitioner's appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a dismissal under section 23-29, which occurs after the writ has issued and the action has commenced, requires some procedural safeguards, including prior notice and an opportunity to submit a written response, but not a full hearing; and (2) on remand, if the writ is issued, and the habeas court again dismisses Petitioner's habeas petition on its own motion pursuant to section 23-29, it must provider Petitioner with prior notice and an opportunity to submit a brief or written response to the proposed basis for dismissal. View "Brown v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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In this companion case to Brown v. Commissioner of Correction, __ A.3d __ (2022), which the Court also decided today, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the habeas court dismissing Appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Practice Book 23-29 sua sponte and without prior notice, holding that remand was required.Petitioner filed a third petition for a writ of habeas corpus asserting four claims. The habeas court, sua sponte and without prior notice, dismissed the petition pursuant to Practice Book 23-29. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the habeas court did not have the benefit of the Court's decision in Gilchrist v. Commissioner of Correction, 223 A.3d 368 (Conn. 2020), remand was required for the habeas court to first determine whether any grounds exist for it to decline to issue the writ pursuant to Practice Book 23-24. View "Boria v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court concluding that Defendant's allegedly defamatory statements about Plaintiff made during a hearing before the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission were entitled to statutory immunity, holding that the appellate court erred.Plaintiff brought this defamation action seeking to recover damages for injuries he claims to have sustained as a result of Defendant's alleged defamatory statements. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that it did not have jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims because the statements Defendant made about Plaintiff at the commission's hearing were entitled to absolute immunity because the hearing constituted a quasi-judicial proceeding. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a hearing on a special permit application before a town's planning and zoning commission is not quasi-judicial in nature; and (2) therefore, the appellate court erroneously determined that Defendant's statements were entitled to absolute immunity. View "Priore v. Haig" on Justia Law