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Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Mazur, Catherine


AC37833 - Ventura v. East Haven (Negligence; "The defendant, the town of East Haven, appeals from the judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff, Thomas Ventura, after the jury returned a verdict awarding him damages for personal injuries he sustained when he was struck by a motor vehicle driven by a private individual, Vladimir Trnka. The jury concluded that the defendant was not immune from liability because, earlier in the evening on the day of the accident, East Haven police officer Jeffrey Strand, after investigating an unrelated domestic violence incident involving Trnka, had a clear ministerial duty to tow Trnka's vehicle on the basis of the vehicle's invalid registration and improper plates. The court denied the defendant's motions to direct or to set aside the verdict.

"On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred when it failed to (1) direct a verdict for the defendant on the basis of governmental immunity; (2) direct or set aside the verdict on the ground that the plaintiff had not produced sufficient evidence that Strand's alleged negligence actually or proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries; and (3) set aside the jury's verdict because the court admitted irrelevant and prejudicial testimony regarding Trnka's possible intoxication and agitation, and permitted the plaintiff's expert to testify about East Haven police procedures despite his having no special knowledge about them. We agree with the defendant's first claim and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")