Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court answered questions of law certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by holding (1) Connecticut public policy supports imposing a duty on a school to warn about or protect against the risk of a serious insect-borne disease when it organizes a trip abroad; and (2) a damages award of approximately $41.5 million, $31.5 million of which are noneconomic damages, does not warrant a remittitur. In this case, Plaintiff, a fifteen-year-old private school student, sustained permanent brain damage after contracting tick-borne encephalitis during an educational trip to China. The jury returned a verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. The school appealed, and, finding insufficient guidance existing in Connecticut law to answer Defendant’s challenges to the verdict, certified the above questions of law to the Connecticut Supreme Court. View "Munn v. Hotchkiss School" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this case, municipal immunity was not abrogated either by the proprietary function exception of Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-557n or by the identifiable person, imminent harm exception. Plaintiff appealed from a judgment rendered in favor of the Town of Plainfield after the trial court concluded that no exception to the Town’s general immunity applied. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether there was municipal immunity when the Town charged a nominal fee to a private group for reserved use of the public pool and where Plaintiff, a member of the group, slipped and fell on accumulated water in the vicinity of that pool. The trial court concluded that the Town was immune from liability because (1) the Town’s operation of a municipal pool wa sa governmental function and did not create a profit for the Town; and (2) Plaintiff was not an identifiable person and that the water on and around the pool surfaces did not qualify as an imminent harm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Town’s operation of its municipal pool did not constitute a proprietary function so as to abrogate its discretionary act immunity; and (2) because Plaintiff was not an identifiable person, the identifiable person, imminent harm exception did not apply. View "St. Pierre v. Plainfield" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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A party’s delay in raising a challenge to the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction is an improper ground on which to deny a motion for judgment of dismissal insofar as the motion challenged subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Plaintiff in this negligence action. The trial court entered judgment after denying Defendant’s motion for judgment of dismissal raising a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held that the trial court’s stated rationale of delay and laches for denying the motion for judgment of dismissal was not a proper basis for denial. Rather, the trial court should have first resolved whether Defendant’s motion raised a colorable jurisdictional issue and, if so, whether it had jurisdiction over the cause of action. The court remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Machado v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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When Employee received less compensation from Employer than that to which he believed he was entitled, Employee began to work for a competitor of Employer and to receive compensation for that work. Employer later terminated Employee’s employment and filed this action, alleging that Employee had breached the duty of loyalty to Employer by performing work on his own behalf during Employer’s workday and by accepting kickbacks from a subcontractor in connection with his work for Employer. The trial court held that Employee had violated his duty of loyalty to Employer. As part of its remedy, the trial court imposed a constructive trust on a bank account held jointly by Employee and his wife. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court’s award of damages was supported by the evidence; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to order additional monetary relief; and (3) the trial court’s imposition of a constructive trust on the joint bank account was not warranted on the evidence presented. View "Wall Systems, Inc. v. Pompa" on Justia Law

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In this, the second of two diversity actions, federal courts certified questions for the Supreme Court’s advice regarding whether specific theories advanced in actions under Connecticut’s Product Liability Act alleging that a cigarette’s design had increased consumers’ risk of cancer were precluded by the Court’s adoption of comment (i) to section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. In the first of these actions, the Supreme Court advised that the strict liability theory advanced by Plaintiffs was not precluded. In the present action, the Supreme Court answered (1) the Court declines to adopt the Restatement (Third), but refinements to product liability tests under Restatement (Second) will clarify the plaintiffs’ burden of proof in strict liability cases; (2) while all product liability claims require proof of a “defective condition unreasonably dangerous” to the user or consumer, “unreasonably dangerous” is not determined by consumer expectations under comment (i) to section 402A when such a claim may be brought under a theory of negligence; and (3) punitive damages under the Act are not limited by the common-law rule. View "Bifolck v. Philip Morris, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff brought a personal injury action against Defendants. After a jury trial, Plaintiff was awarded $84,283 in economic damages and $40,000 in noneconomic damages. Defendants moved for a collateral source reduction to the award pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-225a, arguing that the economic damages award should be reduced to account for the fact that Plaintiff had paid only $1941 toward his medical expenses and his health insurance coverage had covered the remainder. Plaintiff objected to reduction, arguing that section 52-225a precludes a collateral source reduction when a right of subrogation exists, as it did in the present case. The trial court ordered a collateral source reduction of $24,299. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in ordering a collateral source reduction to the award of economic damages to Plaintiff when there was a right of subrogation, in violation of section 52-225a. View "Marciano v. Jiminez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendants, the superintendent of schools for the Town and the principal of Bacon Academy, among others, after he was struck by a vehicle at the school’s driveway. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants negligently supervised school staff and students during school hours and sought indemnification from the Town for those defendants’ negligence. The Town, superintendent, principal, assistant principals, and members of the Town’s Board of Education moved for summary judgment claiming that governmental immunity shielded them from liability. The trial court granted summary judgment with respect to those defendants, concluding that their duty to supervise school staff and students was discretionary. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as to the assistant principals with respect to Plaintiff’s claim that they breached their ministerial duty to assign school staff to supervise students during school hours; and (2) the trial court properly granted summary judgment in all other respects. View "Strycharz v. Cady" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff brought this action against The Boy Scouts of America Corporation alleging that, while he was a member of the Boy Scouts during the mid-1970s, he was sexually abused during scouting activities by his Boy Scout patrol leader. Plaintiff alleged negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, recklessness, and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff on all claims, and the trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict. Defendant appealed, arguing primarily that the trial court erred in denying its request to charge the jury that Defendant could not be held liable for negligence unless Plaintiff proved that Defendant’s own conduct increased the risk that Plaintiff would be subjected to sexual abuse. The Supreme Court agreed with Defendant and reversed, holding that the trial court improperly denied Defendant’s request to instruct the jury that Defendant could not be held liable for negligence unless Plaintiff proved that Defendant’s conduct created or increased the risk that Plaintiff would be harmed by his patrol leader. Remanded for a new trial. View "Doe v. Boy Scouts of America Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury