DATTCO, INC. v. COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION;

COLLINS BUS SERVICE, INC. v. COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION; NASON PARTNERS, LLC, d/b/a/ KELLY TRANSIT COMPANY, LLC v.  COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION;

THE NEW BRITAIN TRANSPORTATION COMPANY v. COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION, SC 19558

Judicial District of Hartford

 

      Eminent Domain; Whether General Statutes § 13b-36 (a) Authorizes Commissioner of Transportation to Take Bus Companies’ Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity.  The plaintiff bus companies hold certificates of public convenience and necessity giving them rights to provide bus service over specified routes.  The certificates were issued pursuant to General Statutes § 13b-80, which authorizes the commissioner of transportation to suspend or revoke a certificate “for sufficient cause shown.”  In 2014, in connection with the implementation of the express bus service known as CTfastrak or the Busway, the commissioner brought condemnation actions against the plaintiffs pursuant to General Statutes § 13b-36 (a), seeking to take their certificates.  Section § 13b-36 (a) provides that  “[t]he commissioner may purchase or take . . . any land, buildings, equipment or facilities which the commissioner finds necessary for the operation or improvement of transportation services. . . .”  The plaintiffs brought these four actions seeking injunctive relief and claiming that the commissioner lacked authority to condemn the certificates under § 13b-36 (a) because a certificate is not “land, buildings, equipment or facilities.”   They maintained that they could be deprived of their property interests in the certificates only pursuant to § 13b-80 and after a hearing at which the commissioner showed sufficient cause for suspension or revocation.  The trial court found in favor of the commissioner in all the actions, ruling that § 13b-36 (a) authorizes the commissioner to take the plaintiffs’ certificates through the state’s power of eminent domain.  The court found that the word “facilities” in § 13b-36 (a) includes intangible property such as the rights the plaintiffs hold by virtue of their certificates and therefore that the commissioner could properly exercise the power of eminent domain over those rights.  The plaintiffs appeal, claiming that the trial court wrongly interpreted § 13b-36 (a) as authorizing the commissioner to pursue condemnation proceedings against their certificates of public convenience and necessity.