Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative 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

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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 judgment of the trial court denying certain defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint, holding that Defendants were not entitled to sovereign immunity.Plaintiffs, the parents of four school-age children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, brought this action seeking judgment from the City of Norwalk's Board of Education and three of its members. Plaintiffs alleged that the negligent hiring and supervision of Stacy Lore, who was hired to provide autism related services to children in the school district, proximately caused them to suffer permanent and ongoing injuries and losses. The Board filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and, in the alternative, claiming that the doctrine of sovereign immunity mandated dismissal of the claims. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss on the ground that Plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The Supreme Court affirmed but on other grounds, holding (1) the trial court improperly dismissed this action on the ground that Plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies; and (2) the Board and its members were not entitled to sovereign immunity because they were acting under the control of, and as an agent of, the municipality rather than the state. View "Graham v. Friedlander" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the trial court's conclusion that Plaintiff was entitled to a credit for income taxes that he paid in New York, thus reversing in part the decision of the Commissioner of Revenue Services assessing personal income tax deficiencies against Plaintiff, holding that the appeal was moot because the Commissioner failed to challenge an independent basis for the trial court's ruling.Plaintiff was a general partner who lived in Connecticut and managed intangible property owned by limited partnerships operating in New York. The Commission concluded that Plaintiff's income consisted income derived from trading intangible property for Plaintiff's own account, and thus it was taxable in this state. The trial court disagreed, concluding that Plaintiff was not trading intangible property for his own account but was trading intangible property owned by the limited partnerships and thus was entitled to a credit for the income tax that he paid in New York. The Commissioner appealed, challenging only one of the two independent bases for the trial court's decision. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot as a consequence of the Commissioner's failure to challenge both grounds for the trial court's decision. View "Sobel v. Commissioner of Revenue Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's appeal from a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Stamford (zoning board) granting the application of Paul Breunich for variances to reconstruct a legally nonconforming accessory structure on his property after it was damaged by a hurricane, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that the zoning board property granted Breunich's application for variances from the regulations.Plaintiff was the executor of the estate of Gerda Mayer Wittmann, who owned property adjacent to Breunich's property. After the trial court dismissed Plaintiff's appeal, Plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court, renewing his claims that the zoning board improperly granted the variances. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the building retained its status as a legally nonconforming accessory structure, and therefore, Breunich was not barred by the Stamford Zoning Regulations from rebuilding the structure; and (2) the zoning board properly granted the variances on the ground that the enforcement of the regulations would create a hardship. View "Mayer-Wittmann v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia 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