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Tort Law Supreme Court Opinions

by Roy, Christopher


SC19867 - Graham v. Commissioner of Transportation ("In this appeal, we consider whether the waiver of sovereign immunity under General Statutes § 13a-144, the state's highway defect statute, extends to a claim that the state police failed to close a bridge before a crew from the Department of Transportation (department) could arrive to address an icy surface on that bridge. The defendant, the Commissioner of Transportation (commissioner), appeals, upon our grant of his petition for certification, from the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the commissioner on the ground that the personal injury action brought by the plaintiff, Barry Graham, was barred by sovereign immunity. Graham v. Commissioner of Transportation, 168 Conn. App. 570, 611, 148 A.3d 1147 (2016). On appeal, the commissioner asks us to overrule this court's decision in Lamb v. Burns, 202 Conn. 158, 520 A.2d 190 (1987), to the extent that it expands the waiver of sovereign immunity under § 13a-144 to include actions of the state police. We decline to overrule Lamb, and conclude that the waiver of sovereign immunity under § 13a-144 extends to the actions of state employees other than those employed by the commissioner, but only to the extent that they are performing duties related to highway maintenance and the plaintiff proves that a relationship exists between the commissioner and the state employee such that the commissioner can be found to have breached his statutory duty to keep the highways, bridges, or sidewalks in repair. We further conclude that, in the present case, there is nothing in the record to indicate that the requisite relationship existed between the commissioner and the state police. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the Appellate Court.")