Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Transportation Law
Dobie v. City of New Haven
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court reversing the judgment of the trial court in favor of Plaintiff in this negligence action, holding that the appellate court properly concluded that the "highway defect statute," Conn. Gen. Stat. 13a-149, was Plaintiff's exclusive remedy.Plaintiff was traveling behind a snowplow when the snowplow hit a manhole cover and knocked it off. Plaintiff's vehicle fell into the open manhole, rendering his vehicle inoperable and injuring him. Plaintiff brought this civil action alleging that Defendant's snowplow operator was negligent under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-557n. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. The appellate court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff's sole remedy was an action pursuant to section 13a-149. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court correctly concluded that the highway defect statute was the exclusive remedy by which Defendant could recover for his injuries. View "Dobie v. City of New Haven" on Justia Law
Dattco, Inc. v. Commissioner of Transportation
Plaintiffs were four bus companies operating buses over routes in and around the cities of New Britian and Hartford. Each plaintiff had authority to operate a bus service over a specific route pursuant to a certificate of public convenience and necessity. When a new busway was constructed by the state, the state sought to hire new companies to operate buses over the routes Plaintiffs currently operate. In a separate action, Plaintiffs sought to enjoin the Commissioner of Transportation from transferring the routes at issue to new operators. While that case was pending, the Commissioner condemned the certificates pursuant to the State’s power of eminent domain. Plaintiff filed the actions that were the subject of this appeal, claiming that the Commissioner lacked the statutory authority to condemn their certificates. The trial court consolidated the actions and granted the Commissioner’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Conn. Gen. Stat. 13b-36(a) gave the Commissioner authority to condemn the certificates. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the legislature did not intend for the term “facilities” in the statute to refer to intangible operating rights reflected in the certificates at issue. View "Dattco, Inc. v. Commissioner of Transportation" on Justia Law
Giannoni v. Comm’r of Transp.
Nicholas Giannoni was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk along a state highway. The highway ended at a private driveway and lawn and led directly to a stream culvert. When the sidewalk ended, Nicholas inadvertently rode his bicycle across the driveway, over a patch of grass, and into the culvert, injuring himself. Plaintiffs brought this highway defect action on behalf of Nicholas under Conn. Gen. Stat. 31a-144 against the Commissioner of Transportation. The Commissioner moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground of sovereign immunity. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs alleged a cognizable highway defect claim under section 31a-144. View "Giannoni v. Comm’r of Transp." on Justia Law
Raymond’s Auto Repair, LLC v. Comm’r of Motor Vehicles
The Department of Motor Vehicles found that Raymond’s Auto Repair, LLC had overcharged for the use of its rotator truck to recover a damaged vehicle prior to the actual towing of that vehicle. The hearing officer ordered Raymond’s to pay a $600 restitution fee. The trial court vacated the reimbursement order, holding that state regulation of the pretowing recovery services at issue was subject to federal preemption. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that state regulation of pretowing recovery services, such as Raymond’s use of the rotator truck in this case, was not preempted by federal law. View "Raymond's Auto Repair, LLC v. Comm’r of Motor Vehicles" on Justia Law
Modzelewski’s Towing & Recovery, Inc. v. Comm’r of Motor Vehicles
The Department of Motor Vehicles found that Plaintiff, a towing service, had overcharged for the nonconsensual towing of a motor vehicle trailer and ordered Plaintiff to pay restitution in the amount of $12,787 to the trailer’s insurer. In so finding, the Department rejected Plaintiff’s claim that Connecticut’s statutes and regulations regarding nonconsensual towing services are preempted under 49 U.S.C. 14501(c)(2)(C). The trial court reversed in part, concluding that the fees charged by Plaintiff were not subject to state regulation. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment with respect to the determination that state regulation of fees charged for pretowing recovery services provided in connection with a nonconsensual towing is preempted by federal law, holding that state laws regulating the fees charged for recovery services performed in connection with a nonconsensual towing are not preempted by federal law. View "Modzelewski's Towing & Recovery, Inc. v. Comm’r of Motor Vehicles" on Justia Law
Martorelli v. Dep’t of Transp.
Plaintiff submitted an application to the Department of Transportation (Department) for authority to operate two motor vehicles in a new intrastate livery service. The Department denied Plaintiff’s application, finding that Plaintiff failed to satisfy his burden of proving the statutory requirement that his livery service would improve present or future “public convenience and necessity.” The trial court affirmed the Department’s decision. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s appeal from the Department’s denial of his permit application, holding that the Department improperly interpreted the “public convenience and necessity” provision of Conn. Gen. Stat. 13b-103(a). Remanded for a new hearing. View "Martorelli v. Dep’t of Transp." on Justia Law
Stotler v. Dep’t of Transp.
Plaintiff, administratrix of the estate of the decedent, brought a defective highway action under Conn. Gen. Stat. 13a-144 against the Department of Transportation alleging that a truck lost control as it traveled down Avon Mountain along Route 44, resulting in the death of the decedent. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action on the ground that Plaintiff’s allegations were insufficient to state a claim under section 13a-144, claiming that the allegations did not fall within the limited exception to the general rule barring design defect claims under the defective highway statute. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff failed to allege an actionable highway defect under section 13a-144. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court properly determined that Plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a claim under section 13a-144, as the plan of design providing for the steep downhill grade, together with the absence of tangible safety measures, as implemented, did not create an otherwise actionable highway defect as defined by case law. View "Stotler v. Dep’t of Transp." on Justia Law
Cummings v. Dep’t of Transp.
Plaintiff brought a defective highway action under Conn. Gen. Stat. 13a-144 against the Department of Transportation alleging that he sustained severe injuries when a truck descending Avon Mountain along Route 44 experienced brake failure and collided with multiple vehicles, including Plaintiff’s. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action on the ground that Plaintiff failed to state a claim under section 13a-144, and therefore, the action was barred by sovereign immunity. Specifically, Defendant asserted that the allegations did not fall within the limited exception to the general rule barring design defect claims under the defective highway statute. The trial court denied the motion. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a cause of action under section 13a-144. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s claim was barred by sovereign immunity because it did not fall within the ambit of the defective highway statute. View "Cummings v. Dep’t of Transp." on Justia Law
Himmelstein v. Windsor
After his bicycle collided with a radar trailer that the Town's police department had placed on the road, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the Town, alleging, inter alia, a breach of statutory duty pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 13a-149 and a claim of nuisance. The trial court granted the Town's motion to strike Plaintiff's nuisance claim under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-557n, which provides that section 13a-149 is the exclusive remedy against a municipality for injuries caused by a defect in a road or bridge. Plaintiff thereafter filed an amended complaint removing all claims except his section 13a-149 claim. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Town, concluding that Plaintiff had failed to establish a highway defect claim under section 13a-149. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court properly affirmed the trial court's judgment striking the nuisance claim against the Town on the basis of its determination that section 13a-149 was Plaintiff's exclusive remedy against the Town, when it also affirmed the grant of summary judgment for the Town on the basis of its determination that Plaintiff had failed to establish an essential element of a highway defect claim under section 31a-149. View "Himmelstein v. Windsor" on Justia Law