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.