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Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Mazur, Catherine


AC37975 - Graham v. Commissioner of Transportation ("The plaintiff, Barry Graham, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant, the Commissioner of Transportation, in this action to recover damages under the state defective highway statute, General Statutes ยง 13a-144.The plaintiff commenced this action on July 9, 2012, to recover for injuries he claims to have suffered on December 12, 2011, in a motor vehicle accident allegedly caused by the sliding of the vehicle that he was then operating on untreated black ice in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 as it crosses the Thames River between New London and Groton on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the ground that because his statutory duty to keep the bridge in a reasonably safe condition is purely reactive rather than anticipatory, he did not breach that duty to the plaintiff by failing to treat or otherwise remedy the icing condition that caused the plaintiff's accident because he had no actual notice of the specific patch of ice before the accident occurred, and even if he had constructive notice of that ice patch based upon prior reports to the Department of Transportation (department) from the state police about earlier ice related accidents on the bridge that morning, he had insufficient time after receiving such notice to remedy that ice patch before it caused the plaintiff's accident.

"On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in rendering summary judgment in favor of the defendant because the evidence before it on the defendant's motion, when considered in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, gave rise to a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant had sufficient time, after receiving actual or constructive notice of the dangerous icing condition that caused his accident, to remedy that condition before the accident occurred.")