Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting the application of Defendant, AFSCME, Council 4, Local 344 (Union), to confirm an arbitration award reinstating Nichole Jefferson to her employment as executive director of the City of New Haven's Commission on Equal Opportunities, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that the award did not violate public policy.The Union filed a grievance, claiming that the City did not have just cause to terminate Jefferson. The arbitration panel reinstated Jefferson to her employment. Thereafter, the trial court issued an order granting the Union's application to confirm the award and denying the City's corresponding application to vacate, concluding that Jefferson's reinstatement did not violate public policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the City failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Jefferson's reinstatement violated public policy. View "New Haven v. AFSCME, Council 4, Local 3144" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting the City of Waterbury's motion to dismiss this action seeking to have the trial court confirm an interest arbitration award, holding that the trial court correctly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the award under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-417.Brass City Local, CACP (the union), a collective bargaining unit that represented employees of the Waterbury Police Department, brought this action seeking confirmation of an arbitration award issued in accordance with the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-473c of the Municipal Employees Relations Act (MERA). The trial court granted the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider the union's application to confirm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction under section 52-417 to confirm an interest arbitration award issued pursuant to section 7-473c. View "Brass City Local, CACP v. City of Waterbury" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting the state's motion to dismiss this tort action, holding that a state's waiver of sovereign immunity in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-556 for claims arising from a state employee's negligent operation of a state-owned and -insured motor vehicle extends to litigants who are state employees.Plaintiff, a state employee, was a passenger in a motor vehicle owned and insured by the state and operated by another state employee, William Texidor, when another vehicle operated by Tyreke Brooks struck their vehicle. Brooks' vehicle was uninsured. Plaintiff, who applied for and received workers' compensation benefits, brought this action agains the state and Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company alleging that Texidor's operation of the vehicle was negligent. The state filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground of sovereign immunity. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court had jurisdiction pursuant to the waiver of sovereign immunity in section 52-556; (2) Plaintiff's action against the state was barred by Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-284(a); and (3) therefore, the form of judgment was improper, and the case is remanded with direction to render judgment for the state. View "Feliciano v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Compensation Review Board affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission awarding Plaintiff permanent partial disability benefits of twenty-three percent based on the function of his transplanted heart, holding that the Board correctly treated the transplanted heart as an organ rather than a prosthetic device.At issue was whether Plaintiff, who underwent a heart transplant, was entitled to a specific indemnity award for permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act for the total loss of Plaintiff's native heart or whether the award should be based, instead, on the rated function of Plaintiff's transplanted heart. Plaintiff was awarded benefits based on the function of his transplanted heart. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that his transplanted heart was akin to a prosthetic device, and therefore, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-308(b) required compensation for the 100 percent loss of his native heart. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the transplant meant that Plaintiff had not suffered a complete loss of his heart within the meaning of section 31-308(b). View "Vitti v. Milford" on Justia Law

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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 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 action for constructive discharge, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment granting Defendant's motion to strike, holding that Plaintiff's complaint failed as a matter of law to allege that Defendant created a work atmosphere so difficult or unpleasant that a reasonable person in Plaintiff's shoes would have felt compelled to resign.Plaintiff, an optician formerly employed by Defendant, brought this action alleging that Defendant required him to violate public policy and that, as a result, Plaintiff was compelled to resign. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to strike, relying on Brittell v. Department of Correction 7171 A.2d 1254 (Conn. 1998). The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed sufficiently to allege the second requirement of a constructive discharge claim in his complaint. View "Karagozian v. USV Optical, Inc." on Justia 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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In this action to recover damages for personal injuries resulting from an allegedly defective product the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that the amendment to the statute of repose in Number 17-97 of the 2017 Public Acts (P.A. 17-97) retroactively applied to Plaintiff's claims.On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the statute of repose applied to her product liability claims is unconstitutional because it creates two classes of claimants - employees subject to a ten-year statute of repose and nonemployees not subject to the statute of repose if the claimant shows the product was within its useful safe life when the injury occurred. While Defendants' motions for summary judgment were pending the legislature enacted P.A. 17-97, which combined the two classes of claimants by removing the limitation provision applicable to employees. The trial court concluded that P.A. 17-97 was not retroactive and applied the ten-year statute of repose to bar Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the amendment to the statute of repose in P.A. 17-97 retroactively applied to Plaintiff's claims. The Court remanded to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the injury occurred during the safe life of the product. View "King v. Volvo Excavators AB" on Justia Law