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Eric Miller represents clients in a variety of complex commercial disputes. His experience includes tort, product liability, toxic tort, foreclosure, lender liability, Uniform Commercial Code, prejudgment remedy, unfair trade practice, employment, landlord-tenant, and contract disputes. Eric litigates matters in both Connecticut State and Federal Courts, and has successfully tried cases to judgment. For example, he obtained a multi-million dollar judgment in favor of a Lender client in a construction loan dispute with lender-liability counterclaims.

In Munn v. The Hotchkiss School, the Second Circuit certified two questions to the Connecticut Supreme Court to help it decide an appeal from a $41.5 million jury verdict awarded to a student who contracted a serious tick-borne disease while on a month-long study abroad program in China:  (1) does Connecticut public policy support imposing a duty on a school to warn or protect against the risk of serious insect-borne disease when it organizes a trip abroad; and (2) if so, does an award of approximately $41.5 million in favor of the plaintiff, $31.5 million of which are  noneconomic damages, warrant remittitur?  For our prior coverage of the arguments, click here.

On August 11, 2017, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued its decision, concluding that Connecticut public policy supports a school’s duty to warn and protect students from serious tick-borne disease on a school-sponsored trip abroad. The Court reiterated the well-established duty of Connecticut schools with custody of minor children to use reasonable care to protect those children from foreseeable harms during school sponsored activities.  The Court found no compelling reason to create an exception to this rule for “foreseeable insect-borne diseases.”

In deciding whether to create such an exception, the Court evaluated four public policy factors: (1) the normal expectations of the participants; (2) balancing the public policy of encouraging participation in the activity against the safety of the participants; (3) avoidance of increased litigation; and (4) decisions in other jurisdictions.

Continue Reading Connecticut Supreme Court Upholds Duty of Schools to Warn or Protect Against Insect-borne Diseases in Travel Abroad Programs

Argument Recap:  Bifolck v. Philip Morris, S.C. 19310

On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Bifolck v. Philip Morris, Inc., S.C. 19310. The question before the Court was whether, for product liability actions premised on design defects, Connecticut should abandon its consumer expectation test and adopt a risk utility test that requires proof of a reasonable alternative design.

The case has significant implications for how product liability claims will be proven under Connecticut law going forward and, as such, will affect businesses that manufacture, distribute, and sell products within this state. The importance of this case is highlighted by the fact that twelve organizations filed amici briefs (Murtha Cullina authored an amicus brief on behalf of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, which was joined by the New Haven Manufacturers Association and the Insurance Association of Connecticut).

Continue Reading Revisiting Connecticut’s Standard for Product Liability Design Defect Claims