Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court held that a claim brought pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-557n(b)(8) is a "cause of action created by statute based on negligence" such that apportionment is allowed under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572h(o).At issue was whether the apportionment statute, section 52-572h, permits municipal defendants whose liability is based on section 52-557n(b)(8) to file an apportionment complaint sounding in negligence. The trial court dismissed Defendants' apportionment complaint, but the appellate court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff's claims under section 52-557n(b)(8) fell within the first exception, which it held to incorporate a negligence standard. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because section 52-557n(b)(8) expressly abrogates the common law doctrine of municipal immunity and because the first exception under the statute allows for a cause of action based on negligence, claims brought pursuant to that exception qualify for apportionment. View "Costanzo v. Plainfield" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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In this personal injury action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court reversing the judgment of the trial court granting the joint motion for additurs filed by Plaintiffs and awarding each plaintiff additional money for pain and damages, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting Plaintiffs' joint motion for additurs.Plaintiffs, William Maldonado and Geovanni Hernandez, filed a negligence action against Defendants after a car accident. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs and awarded economic damages in the amount of $17,228 to Maldonado and $11,864 to Hernandez but declined to award noneconomic damages. The trial court granted Plaintiffs' motion for additurs, concluding that the jury verdict was inherently inconsistent and awarding past economic damages in the amount of $8000 to Maldonado and $6500 to Hernandez. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court's explanation of the basis for the additur award was sufficient; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting Plaintiffs' joint motion for additurs. View "Maldonado v. Flannery" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court in this case arising from allegations of sexual harassment brought by the complainant, a judicial marshal who was employed by the Connecticut Judicial Branch, holding that remand was required.A human rights referee with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities concluded that the the allegations were substantiated and awarded the complainant back pay, emotional distress damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees. The trial court reversed in part, concluding that the award of emotional distress damages must be vacated due to the complainant's failure to comply with discovery requests and that the injunction reinstating the complainant to her former workplace must be vacated as overbroad. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the trial court (1) properly concluded that emotional distress damages and attorney's fees were available remedies; but (2) erred in upholding the referee's determination that the state waived its sovereign immunity with respect to prejudgment and post judgment interest awards for civil rights violations. View "Connecticut Judicial Branch v. Gilbert" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff brought this lawsuit based on a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (CUIPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 38a0815 et seq., asserting breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq. The trial court dismissed the claims, determining that the litigation privilege deprived the court of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the litigation privilege barred Plaintiff's CUTPA-CUIPA claim. View "Dorfman v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a question certified to the Supreme Court by the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut in this declaratory judgment action by holding that Defendant's plea of nolo contendere could not be used to trigger a criminal acts exclusion in a homeowners insurance policy governed by Connecticut law.At issue was whether Plaintiff, Allstate Insurance Company, could use Defendant's plea of nolo contendere to the charge of assault in the first degree to trigger a criminal acts exclusion that would bar Plaintiff's coverage of Defendant in a civil action involving the same underlying incident. The district court certified the question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that Defendant's plea of nolo contendere could not be used by Plaintiff to establish the applicability of the criminal acts exclusion of the relevant policy. View "Allstate Insurance Co. v. Tenn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court reversing the judgment of the trial court and concluding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Plaintiff's action was barred by the two-year statute of limitations set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-584, holding that the appellate court did not err.Plaintiff fell while using a restroom in the Manchester Memorial Hospital and sustained injuries to her shoulder and neck. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that her fall resulted from Defendants' negligence in failing to exercise the care and diligence ordinarily exercised by hospitals. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The appellate court reversed, concluding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to when Plaintiff discovered her injury as contemplated by section 52-584. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court correctly concluded that there was a genuine issue of material fact. View "Peek v. Manchester Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court concluding that the accidental failure of suit statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-592, did not save the otherwise time-barred action of Plaintiff, executrix of the estate of Theresa Riccio, holding that there was no error.The trial court concluded that Plaintiff's wrongful death action was time barred because her first medical malpractice action was dismissed due to her attorney's gross negligence for failing to file with the complaint legally sufficient medical opinion letters, as required by Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-190a(a) and two appellate court decisions interpreting section 52-190a(a). The appellate court dismissed the appeal, concluding that the action was time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that the omission of the experts' qualifications was egregious conduct rather than a matter of form or mistake. View "Riccio v. Bristol Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this action arising from an explosion at a power generating facility under construction in Middletown the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendants with respect to Plaintiffs' strict liability claims and grant of summary judgment with respect to Plaintiffs' negligence claims, holding that tort remedies were not available to Plaintiffs under the circumstances of this case.Several the victims of the blast and ensuing fire and their families brought this action against, among others, the power plant's owner, the owner's administrative agent, and the general contactor. The claims against the general contractor were resolved in the contractor's favor. As to the owner and administrative agent, the trial court rendered judgment for Defendants with respect to the strict liability claims and granted summary judgment with respect to the negligence claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to relief on their allegations of error. View "Gonzalez v. O & G Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the trial court denying Plaintiff's application for a civil protection order, holding that Plaintiff's claims on appeal lacked merit.At issue before the Supreme Court was the standard courts must apply to determine whether an applicant for a civil protection order has established the element of fear. On appeal from the denial of her application for a civil protection order Plaintiff argued, among other things, that the trial court improperly interpreted Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-16a as creating a subjective-objective standard for establishing fear rather than a purely objective standard. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly interpreted section 46b-16a; (2) none of the trial court's factual findings was clearly erroneous; and (3) section 46b-16a does not violate the equal protection clause of the Connecticut constitution. View "L.H.-S. v. N.B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court concluding that Defendant, as a hospital, was not a product seller for purposes of imposing strict liability under the Connecticut Product Liability Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572m et seq., under the circumstances of this case, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging injuries arising from Defendant's violations of, among other things, the product liability act, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., and common law. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Defendant was not a product seller for purposes of imposing strict liability under the product liability act and that Plaintiff's CUTPA and common law claims were time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant provided general information regarding various medical procedures on its website and did not significantly participate in placing the medical device at issue into the stream of commerce Defendant was not a product seller for purposes of imposing strict liability under the product liability act; and (2) the statutes of limitations governing Plaintiff's remaining claims were not tolled. View "Normandy v. American Medical Systems, Inc." on Justia Law