Here is a preview of the six cases being heard in the second week of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s November Term:

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Court will hear argument in two cases. In the first, Brass City Local, CACP v. City of Waterbury, S.C. 20337, the Court will decide whether the Superior Court has jurisdiction over an application to confirm an interest arbitration award rendered pursuant to the Municipal Employee Relations Act (MERA), General Statutes § 7-467 et seq. MERA imposes mandatory binding arbitration to determine the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement whenever a municipality and the union representing its employees reach an impasse in their negotiations. After the state board of mediation and arbitration issued an award pursuant to MERA, the plaintiff filed an application to confirm the award pursuant to General Statutes § 52-408 et seq., which authorizes limited judicial review over an award issued pursuant to an agreement to arbitrate. The Court will decide whether the trial court properly concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because the award was not issued pursuant to a written agreement to arbitrate, and because MERA does not specifically authorize judicial review of an award pursuant to an application to confirm.

The second case is Ruiz v. Commissioner of Correction, S.C. 20233, in which the Court will address whether, pursuant to Blumberg Associates Worldwide, Inc. v. Brown and Brown of Connecticut, Inc., 311 Conn. 123 (2014), the Appellate Court is required to afford the parties the opportunity to file supplemental briefs before it may affirm the judgment of the trial on an alternative ground that was not raised by the parties. The petitioner, who previously pled guilty to home invasion, brought a habeas petition claiming that his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to file a motion to dismiss the home invasion charge. The habeas court denied the petition on the merits, but the Appellate Court affirmed on the alternative ground that the petitioner waived his right to pursue that claim by pleading guilty, even though neither party ever raised that issue. The Court will address whether the Appellate Court erred by failing to order supplemental briefing before affirming on an alternative ground that was not raised by the parties.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Court will hear argument in one case, Du Pont De Nemours v. Chemtura Corporation, S.C. 20329, in which it will address whether strict compliance with a contractual notice provision is required under New York law. The plaintiff purchased the defendant’s fluorine chemical facility pursuant to an asset purchase agreement, which required the defendant to indemnify the plaintiff in the event that the defendant breached any of the contractual representations and warranties. The agreement, which provided that New York law would govern, also required the plaintiff to provide notice of any claim to the defendant’s general counsel and outside counsel within four years of the closing. Shortly after the closing, the plaintiff sought indemnification for various claimed deficiencies at the facility, and the parties engaged in discussions about those claims over the next few years. The plaintiff brought this action six years after the closing, and the trial court found against the plaintiff on the basis that it failed to comply with the contractual notice provision because it did not notify the appropriate persons under the contract. The Court will address whether New York law requires strict compliance with the notice provision of a commercial contract in order to recover for a breach of contract claim. (Disclaimer:  Murtha Cullina LLP is counsel for the plaintiff in this case.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

In the first case, State v. Ruiz-Pacheco, S.C. 20206, the Court will address whether the defendant’s separate convictions for assault as a principal and an accessory arising from a joint attack on a single victim violated double jeopardy. The defendant was convicted of two counts of first-degree assault as a principal and two counts of first-degree assault as an accessory, arising from an incident in which the defendant and his brother both stabbed two victims during a brawl outside a nightclub. The Appellate Court held that the defendant’s convictions did not violate double jeopardy because the separate convictions arose from separate criminal acts, namely, the separate stabbings of the victims by the defendant and his brother. The Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the defendant’s convictions.

In the second case, Garcia v. Cohen, S.C. 20285, the Court will address the applicability of the general verdict rule where the trial court denies the plaintiff’s request to submit interrogatories to the jury. The plaintiff brought this action against the defendant, claiming that she was injured as a result of the defendant’s negligence in failing to keep the stairs to her apartment building in a safe condition. During trial, the defendant testified that he hired several people who helped him maintain the premises. The plaintiff filed a request to charge the jury that the defendant had a nondelegable duty to maintain the premises, along with proposed interrogatories regarding what caused the defendant’s injuries, both of which the court denied. After the jury returned a general verdict for the defendant, the plaintiff appealed, claiming that the trial court erred in rejecting her proposed charge and interrogatories. The Appellate Court held that the general verdict rule precluded review of the plaintiff’s claim because, although the plaintiff requested the interrogatories, she failed to object when the trial court refused to submit them to the jury. The Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the plaintiff’s claim was not reviewable.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The November term closes with argument in Strano v. Azzinaro, S.C. 20309, in which the Court will grapple with the pleading requirements necessary to satisfy the “extreme and outrageous” conduct standard in a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The minor plaintiff, who has been diagnosed with autism, brought this action after he was expelled from his Boy Scout troop. After the plaintiff had been bullied by fellow troop members, the plaintiff’s father asked the defendant troop leader to intervene. When the defendant failed to do so, the plaintiff’s father started attending troop meetings to monitor how the plaintiff was being treated. The defendant then expelled the plaintiff for the stated reason that his father’s presence at the meetings disrupted the group’s functioning. The trial court struck the plaintiff’s complaint on the basis that the alleged conduct was not “extreme and outrageous” as required to sustain a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Court will decide whether the Appellate Court erred in affirming the trial court’s decision to strike the plaintiff’s complaint. 

The Connecticut Supreme Court’s November Term begins today. Here’s a look at the cases being argued in the first week:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The November 2019 term begins with argument in two worker’s compensation cases, Dickerson v. City of Stamford, S.C. 20244 and Coughlin v. City of Stamford, S.C. 20319, involving claims by retired members of the police and fire departments of the City of Stamford. Pursuant to General Statutes § 7-433c, police officers and firefighters are entitled to benefits for death or disability caused by heart disease or hypertension without the need to prove that the condition arose during their employment. The plaintiffs in both cases applied for and received benefits for hypertension under § 7-433c while they were employed by the City. After retirement, both plaintiffs were diagnosed with heart disease, and both sought additional benefits under § 7-433c. The Worker’s Compensation Commissioner denied the plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that, under Holston v. New Haven Police Department, 323 Conn. 607 (2016), heart disease and hypertension are two separate conditions that require separate applications for benefits. The Court will decide whether the plaintiffs may be entitled to additional benefits for heart disease if they can establish that their heart disease is a “subsequent manifestation” of hypertension for which they previously were awarded benefits.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Court will hear argument in Lime Rock Park, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Commission of the Town of Salisbury, S.C. 20237, 20238, & 20239, three related appeals in a case challenging zoning regulations that restrict when motor vehicle races may be held at Lime Rock Park in Salisbury. The Town passed zoning regulations prohibiting racing on Sundays and placing limitations on Saturday racing. Lime Rock Park appealed to the Superior Court, and neighboring property owners intervened as defendants. The trial court held that the prohibition against Sunday racing was preempted by General Statutes § 14-164a, which allows racing “at any reasonable hour of any week day or after twelve o’clock noon on any Sunday,” and allows municipalities to “issue a permit allowing a start time prior to twelve o’clock noon on any Sunday, provided no such race or exhibition shall take place contrary to the provisions of any [municipal] ordinances.” The trial court upheld the remaining regulations. All parties appealed, and the Court will decide, among other things, whether the regulations prohibiting Sunday racing and limiting Saturday racing are preempted by § 14-164a.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Court will hear argument in two criminal cases. The first, State v. Covington, S.C. 20198, addresses the evidence necessary to convict for carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35, which requires proof that the defendant carried a firearm with a barrel less than twelve inches in length, where the state never recovered the firearm in question. Following a shooting in New Haven, the jury deadlocked on the murder and assault charges against the defendant, but the trial court found the defendant guilty of carrying a pistol without a permit. The defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction because the state never recovered the weapon used during the shooting, and no witnesses testified to seeing the defendant committing the shooting. The Appellate Court rejected that claim, relying on testimony that the defendant was seen with a “handgun” after the shooting, together with a firearm toolmark examiner’s testimony that bullets recovered from the victim exhibited characteristics that were consistent with bullets fired from a handgun or revolver. The Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of carrying a pistol without a permit.

In the second case, State v. Cody M., S.C. 20213, the Court will address whether two statements made as part of one interaction may support two separate convictions for violation of a criminal protective order. During a juvenile court hearing relating to their children, the defendant tried to make small talk with the victim, and then threatened her after she ignored him. The defendant was convicted of one count of violation of a protective order for “having contact” with the victim, and a second for “threatening” her. The Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the defendant’s two convictions were based on separate acts, such that the convictions did not violate the double jeopardy clause.

Friday, November 15, 2019

In the first case, Wolfork v. Yale Medical Group, S.C. 20344, the Court will address whether a motion to open judgment must be verified pursuant to General Statutes § 52-212(b) where the underlying action was not disposed of by way of a default or nonsuit. This medical malpractice action was initiated by the decedent’s mother when she was the administratrix of his estate. The action was dismissed after the decedent’s mother failed to meet a deadline set by the court. After the decedent’s father was replaced as the administrator of the estate, he filed a motion to open judgment, which the trial court granted. The Court will address whether the trial court properly concluded that the motion to open did not need to be verified because the court had not disposed of the case by way of a default or nonsuit. The Court will also decide whether the decedent’s father lacked standing to file the motion to open because he was not a party to the underlying action.

In the second case, North Sails Group, LLC v. Boards and More GMBH, S.C. 20338, the Court will address whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017), precluded the trial court from exercising jurisdiction over the defendant, an Austrian company, in a breach of contract action brought by the Connecticut-based plaintiff. The plaintiff and defendant entered into a licensing agreement, pursuant to which the defendant marketed and sold products in Austria branded with the plaintiff’s trademark. After the defendant notified the plaintiff that it was going to stop marketing products with the plaintiff’s trademark, the plaintiff sued in the Superior Court. The trial court dismissed the action for lack of personal jurisdiction because the conduct that was the subject of the complaint did not occur in Connecticut. The Court will address whether the trial court properly concluded that it could not exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendants.

In a unanimous decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the Trial Court and held in Bilbao v. Goodwin that a storage agreement was valid and enforceable whereby the parties checked a box to discard pre-embryos in the event of their divorce. Many fertility facilities use check box or other types of storage agreements; however, there has always been some question as to how a court would enforce such agreements. In this case, the Supreme Court answered that question in a limited context. Continue Reading CT Supreme Court Rules Storage Agreement For Disposition of Pre-Embryos is Valid

The Connecticut Supreme Court’s October term begins today. Here is a look at the arguments for the first week of the term:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The second term of the year begins with the public interest appeal in State v. Kosuda-Bigazzi, S.C. 20341, in which the Court will decide whether the defendant was entitled to dismissal of the murder charges against her pursuant to State v. Lenarz, 301 Conn. 417 (2011), based on the state’s violation of the defendant’s attorney-client privilege. During a search of the defendant’s home, the police seized and read two files from a locked cabinet, one of which was labeled “Criminal Defense Attorney Oct 2017.” Both files contained substantially similar handwritten documents describing the killing of the defendant’s husband. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the documents in one of the two files were not protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Court will determine whether the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

In the second case, Kos v. Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, S.C. 20256, the Court will decide whether to overrule Wasfi v. Chaddha, 218 Conn. 200 (1991), which held that it was proper to instruct a jury in a medical malpractice case that physicians may choose between acceptable alternative treatments without incurring liability solely because that choice may have led to an unfortunate result. The plaintiff claims that the “acceptable alternative treatments” instruction is no longer appropriate and that Wasfi should be overruled.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Court will hear argument in two criminal appeals. In the first, State v. LaMantia, S.C. 20190, the Court will address whether a defendant may be found guilty of tampering with a witness by urging the witness via text message not to cooperate with the police shortly after the incident being investigated. Shortly after an altercation involving the defendant and the witness, the defendant sent the witness text messages urging him not to tell the police the truth about what happened. The issue is whether the defendant could be found to have intended to induce the witness to testify falsely in an “official proceeding” while the incident was still in the beginning stages of the investigation.

The second case, State v. Sawyer, S.C. 20132, involves the question whether the Connecticut Constitution requires a higher standard of proof than the United States Constitution in order to establish probable cause. The defendant, a member of the Holy Cross Brotherhood, was arrested for possession of child pornography after a fellow member reported to police that he saw the defendant looking at images on his computer of what appeared to be naked underage children. The defendant claims that, at least in circumstances in which a search warrant is issued when it is not known whether any crime was committed, the Connecticut Constitution requires a “more probable than not” standard in order to establish probable cause.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Court will hear argument in one family case and one criminal case. In Hall v. Hall, S.C. 20181, the Court will address whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying the parties’ joint motion to vacate a contempt order. The trial court initially found the plaintiff in contempt for unilaterally transferring money from a joint account to a personal account, in violation of a court order. The parties’ later jointly moved to open the judgment and vacate the order, in part on the basis that the plaintiff acted in reliance on the advice of counsel. The Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the trial court’s judgment denying the joint motion.

The second case is State v. Komisarjevsky, S.C. 18973, which arises from the defendant’s conviction for the 2007 home invasion and homicide of the Petit family in Cheshire. The Court will address, among other things, whether the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s request to transfer the trial from the Judicial District of New Haven violated his right to an impartial jury. The defendant claims that extensive pretrial publicity regarding the crime inflamed the passions of the community and infected the jury pool. The defendant also claims that the state violated his right to due process by failing to disclose evidence that would have supported his defense, including over 100 pages of letters written by his co-defendant.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The first week of the second term concludes with argument in one criminal case, State v. Joseph A., S.C. 20125, in which the Court will address the trial court’s duty to canvass a criminal defendant who waives his right to counsel. The defendant represented himself during arraignment and plea negotiations while he attempted to obtain counsel, but later waived his right to counsel and represented himself at trial. In the Appellate Court, the defendant claimed that the trial court improperly failed to canvass him about his right to counsel before allowing him to represent himself at arraignment and during plea negotiations. The Appellate Court affirmed, concluding that the trial court had no duty to canvass the defendant until he unequivocally invoked his right to self-representation during later pretrial proceedings. The Supreme Court will address whether the trial court had the duty to canvass the defendant about his right to counsel in the absence of an unequivocal invocation of his right to self-representation.

Here’s a look at the second week of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s First Term:

Monday, September 23, 2019

The first case of the week is State v. Blaine, S.C. 20087, in which the Court will decide whether reversal under the plain error rule is warranted where the trial court failed to instruct the jury in accordance with an Appellate Court decision that was on appeal by way of certification to the Supreme Court at the time of the instruction in question. The defendant claims that the trial court failed to instruct the jury in accordance with State v. Pond, 138 Conn. App. 228 (2012), aff’d, 315 Conn. 451 (2015), which held that a conspiracy conviction requires proof that the defendant had the specific intent to commit every element of the planned offense, including those elements of the underlying crime that do not require specific intent. The state claims that, because Pond was pending before the Supreme Court at the time of the instruction, the law was unsettled and reversal under the plain error rule is not available.

The second case, Rutter v. Janis, et al., S.C. 20122, involves General Statutes § 14-60, which allows an automobile dealer to loan a dealer license plate to a customer for “not more than thirty days in any year,” and protects dealers that comply with the statute from liability for damages caused by the operator of a motor vehicle that is displaying dealer plates. At issue is whether the thirty day time period includes the day on which the dealer plates are loaned to the customer, or whether the thirty days starts to run on the following day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The related appeals in Jenzack Partners, LLC v. Stoneridge Associates, LLC, S.C. 20188 & 20189 arise from an action by the plaintiff, an assignee of a mortgage, seeking to foreclose on the mortgage. The defendant originally executed a guarantee in favor of the assignor, and also gave the assignor a mortgage on her property. The Court will address whether the plaintiff had standing to foreclose on the mortgage where the assignor never assigned the guarantee to the plaintiff. The Court will also decide whether the trial court properly admitted the plaintiff’s records concerning the amount due on the note under the business records exception to the hearsay rule, where the records incorporated information received from the assignor about the starting balance of the note about which the witness who authenticated the records did not have firsthand knowledge.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Court will hear argument in two criminal cases that involve the ability of a party to raise unpreserved evidentiary claims on appeal when those claims are based on a precedential opinion released after final judgment. Both cases involve the Court’s recent decision in State v. Edwards, 325 Conn. 97 (2017), holding that a trial court must hold a hearing pursuant to State v. Porter, 241 Conn. 57 (1997), before admitting expert testimony regarding cell phone location data. In the first case, State v. Jackson, S.C. 20193, the Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly declined to review the defendant’s unpreserved claim that the trial court abused its discretion by not holding a Porter hearing to assess the reliability of expert testimony concerning cell phone location data. In the second case, State v. Turner, S.C. 20186, the Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly held that the defendant was not entitled to review of his unpreserved Edwards claim under either the plain error rule, or under the doctrine of State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233 (1989), which allows review of unpreserved constitutional claims. Both defendants claim that they were entitled to review of their claims because the Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards was not released until after final judgment.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The first term of the year concludes with Lafferty v. Jones, S.C. 20327, an interlocutory public interest appeal in the case against radio host Alex Jones and his companies, brought by surviving family members of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The case involves Connecticut’s “anti-SLAPP” statute, General Statutes § 52-196a, which provides defendants the right to seek an expedited “special motion to dismiss” in a lawsuit that is based on the exercise of the right to free speech. At issue is whether the trial court abused its discretion by precluding the defendants from pursuing their special motion to dismiss as a sanction for various discovery abuses and statements by Jones on his radio show allegedly threatening the plaintiffs’ attorney. The defendants claim that the sanction was improper because they were not afforded adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard, and because Jones’s statements on his radio show constituted constitutionally protected speech.

The Connecticut Supreme Court’s 2018-2019 year begins this week. The First Term runs from September 16 through September 26, and the Court will hear argument in fourteen cases. Here’s a look at this week’s cases:

Monday, September 16, 2019

The first term begins with argument in two cases. In Graham v. Friedlander, S.C. 20243, the Court will decide whether the trial court properly dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims against the Norwalk Board of Education and its employees for failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq. The issue is whether, under Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, 137 S. Ct. 743 (2017), the IDEA exhaustion requirement does not apply to the plaintiffs’ claims that the defendants negligently hired an unqualified person to provide services to autistic children, where the plaintiffs alleged that the harm they suffered could not be remedied through IDEA administrative procedures.

The second case, Gilchrist v. Commissioner of Correction, S.C. 20141, asks whether a habeas corpus case may be dismissed sua sponte for lack of jurisdiction under Practice Book § 23-39 without notice or an opportunity to be heard and without acting on the petitioner’s request for appointment of counsel.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Court will hear argument in companion appeals in Schwerin v. Schwerin, S.C. 20208 & 20209, which involve the interpretation of two family trusts. The Court will decide at which generational level the trust principal should be divided where the trusts require the principal to be distributed upon expiration to the “grantor’s issue then living, per stirpes.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

In In re Tresin J., S.C. 20267, the Court will decide whether the trial court improperly terminated the parental rights of the incarcerated respondent on the basis that the respondent had no ongoing relationship with the child. At issue is whether, pursuant to the “infancy exception” recognized in In re Carla C., 167 Conn. App. 248 (2016), the trial court was required to consider the respondent’s  positive feelings toward the child before terminating the respondent’s parental rights for lack of an ongoing parent-child relationship.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The first week of the term concludes with argument in two criminal cases. In State v. Lamont Edwards, S.C. 19899, the Court will decide whether Section 8-5(2) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence, which provides that the hearsay rule does not preclude an out-of-court identification if the declarant is available and the defendant has the opportunity for cross-examination, applies where the declarant does not also make an in-court identification. The Court will also decide whether the defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him was violated where the state introduced hearsay evidence of an out-of-court identification during redirect after the defendant elicited testimony that other witnesses failed to identify him.

The week concludes with State v. Angel M., S.C. 20106, in which the Court will consider whether to overrule State v. Huey, 199 Conn. 121 (1986), which held that a trial court may consider a defendant’s refusal to admit guilt as a factor in sentencing.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ‘s October term begins tomorrow. From October 10th through October 20th, the Court will hear appeals in fourteen cases. Here’s a look at the first week:

Tuesday, October 10th

The Court hears argument in Angersola v. Radiologic Associates, SC 29619, where the issue is whether the time limitations set forth in the wrongful death statute, General Statutes § 52-555, are jurisdictional and whether they can be tolled by the continuing course of conduct doctrine. The second case, State v. Parnoff, SC 19588, asks whether the First Amendment protects a defendant from being convicted of disorderly conduct for his speech in telling two water company employees to get off his property or he would shoot them.

Wednesday, October 11th

The Court hears one case, Doe v. Town of West Harford, SC 19828, where it will decide whether the Appellate Court properly reversed a trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the Town where a lawsuit brought by an attorney who was involuntarily committed to the Institute of Living alleging police misconduct was served on the defendants one day after the expiration of the three year statute of limitations. The question is whether the lawsuit could be saved under the savings statute, General Statutes § 52-593a, which extends the limitations period if the marshal timely receives the complaint, in the absence of clear evidence of when the marshal, in fact, received  the complaint.

Thursday, October 12th

The Court hears one case, Ridgaway v. Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company, SC 19728, where it will determine whether a trial judge abused his discretion by entering a judgment of nonsuit as a disciplinary sanction against plaintiff’s counsel for a discovery violation.

Friday, October 13th

The week concludes with a family case and a habeas case. In Nuzzi v. Nuzzi, SC 19771, the Court will hear a dispute over an unallocated alimony award and determine whether the expiration of the support order during the pendency of the appeal rendered moot the appeal from the denial of the motion to modify. The second case, Juste v. Commissioner of Correction, SC 19460, raises the question of whether an appeal by a habeas petitioner who has been deported is rendered moot without a showing by the petitioner that a reversal of his criminal conviction would affect his ability to reenter the country.

We are into the second week of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 2017-2018 year. Here’s a look at this week’s cases:

Monday, September 18th

The first case is Francini v. Goodspeed Airport, LLC, SC 19705, where the Supreme Court will consider whether the Appellate Court properly held that an easement by necessity for a landlocked parcel is not limited only to ingress and egress. The trial court had rejected the plaintiff’s claim that his property’s easement by necessity to access a public highway also included a right of way to access commercial utilities and the Appellate Court reversed.

The second case is State v. Urbanowki, SC 19678, where the Court will consider whether evidence that the defendant in a strangulation prosecution had previously attempted to choke another woman was harmless error.

Tuesday, September 19th

As part of its public education goals, each year the Connecticut Supreme Court holds an “On Circuit” program where it hears oral arguments at an area law school, college, or high school. This year, the venue for the “On Circuit” program will be the University of New Haven and two cases will be argued.

The first case is Brooks v. Powers, SC 19727, which addresses governmental immunity. The plaintiff is the estate of a woman whose body washed up on the shore. A report had been made to the local police department that she was near the ocean during a severe storm and in need of medical attention, but no one responded. The issue is whether the imminent harm, identifiable victim exception to discretionary act immunity applies. The trial court had concluded that it does, granting summary judgment. A divided panel of the Appellate Court reversed.

The second case, State v. Panek, 19772, is about the meaning of the “not in plain view” element of the video voyeurism statute and, specifically, whether it must be evaluated from the perspective of the defendant or the public at-large. The trial court concluded that the former was the correct test, and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss because the alleged victims were in his immediate physical presence. The State appealed and the Appellate Court affirmed, agreeing with the trial court.

Continue Reading Week Two at the Connecticut Supreme Court

The Connecticut Supreme Court ‘s 2017-2018 sitting kicks off on Monday. From September 11th through September 28th, the Court will hear oral arguments in nineteen cases. Here’s a look at first week:

Monday, September 11th

The new year starts with a divorce case and a zoning case. In Reinke v. Sing, SC 19687, the Supreme Court will consider whether a family court, without a finding of fraud, has jurisdiction to open a dissolution judgment several years after it was entered based on a party’s failure to disclose certain assets at the time of the divorce. The case has garnered interest from the Connecticut Bar Association and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which both urge for a reversal of the Appellate Court’s decision which had determined that, absent a finding of fraud, the trial court was without jurisdiction to open the dissolution judgment.

The second case is Piece of Paradise, LLC v. Borough of Fenwick Zoning of Appeals, SC 19890, a zoning a dispute over property related to actress Katherine Hepburn’s former Fenwick Estate “Paradise” set on Long Island Sound and built in 1939. At issue is whether the zoning board’s denial of a variance from a 2011 amendment to the zoning regulations, which imposed new setback requirements that effectively barred the property owner from building a single-family home on a parcel that was formerly part of a larger parcel containing the Hepburn home, constitutes a regulatory taking of property.

Continue Reading Week One at the Connecticut Supreme Court

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