The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Tort Law Supreme and Appellate Court Opinions

by Penn, Michele


SC19946 - Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency v. Jackson ("To prevail in a negligence action, a plaintiff ordinarily must establish all of the elements of that cause of action, namely, duty, breach, causation, and damages. See, e.g., Snell v. Norwalk Yellow Cab, Inc., 332 Conn. 720, 742, ___ A.3d ___ (2019). In this appeal, which presents an issue of first impression for this court, we must decide whether to adopt the alternative liability doctrine, which was first articulated in Summers v. Tice, 33 Cal. 2d 80, 85–87, 199 P.2d 1 (1948), and later endorsed by the Restatement (Second) of Torts. That rule provides that, when "the conduct of two or more actors is tortious, and it is proved that harm has been caused to the plaintiff by only one of them, but there is uncertainty as to which one has caused it, the burden is upon each such actor to prove that he has not caused the harm." 2 Restatement (Second), Torts § 433 B (3), pp. 441–42 (1965). We are persuaded that the doctrine is a sound one and therefore adopt it.

The plaintiff, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, as subrogee of its insured, the town of Somers (town), brought this action against the defendants, Christopher Jackson, Wesley Hall, and Erin Houle, claiming that their negligent disposal of cigarettes inside an abandoned, privately owned mill in the town ignited a fire that destroyed both the mill and a public, aboveground sewage line in the basement of the mill. The trial court granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff could not establish which of the defendants' cigarettes had sparked the blaze and, therefore, could not establish causation, an essential element of its cause of action. In doing so, the trial court declined the plaintiff's request that it adopt the alternative liability doctrine as set forth in § 433 B (3) of the Restatement (Second), concluding, inter alia, that whether to do so was a decision only this court, the Appellate Court or the legislature properly should make. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.")

AC42044 - Reale v. Rhode Island ("In this spoliation of evidence action, the plaintiff Daniel Reale appeals from the judgment of dismissal rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant town of Coventry, Rhode Island (town), and the state defendants, the state of Rhode Island; the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families; Investigator Harry Lonergan; and Attorneys Brenda Baum and Diane Leyden, on the ground of a lack of personal jurisdiction. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred in (1) determining that the state defendants did not waive their right to seek dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction by concurrently moving to strike the plaintiff's complaint as an alternative to dismissal, and (2) granting the state defendants' motions to dismiss on the ground of a lack of personal jurisdiction. We affirm the judgment of the court.")