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Tort Law

Tort Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5241

SC20505 - Adams v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. ("This appeal requires us to revisit the requirements for a forum to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation in the wake of the United States Supreme Court's recent decisions considering this issue in the context of product liability actions. More particularly, we consider whether the corporation's contacts with the forum can sufficiently "relate to" such a cause of action, such that the forum's exercise of specific personal jurisdiction would be consonant with due process, in the absence of any activity or occurrence in the forum concerning either the specific product or product model that allegedly malfunctioned. The plaintiffs, John S. Adams and Mary Lou Hanney, coadministrators of the estate of Ryan Michael Adams, appeal from the trial court's judgment in favor of the named defendant, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., rendered after the granting of the defendant's motion to dismiss the product liability claim brought against it. The plaintiffs contend that the trial court improperly failed to recognize that, as long as the plaintiffs' cause of action is not materially different from an action that might have directly resulted from a person's use of the defendant's product in Connecticut, exercising personal jurisdiction over the defendant would satisfy both Connecticut's applicable long arm statute and due process. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5233

AC44902 - Speer v. U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. ("The self-represented plaintiff, Sheri Speer, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. (U.S. Bank). The plaintiff claims on appeal that the trial court (1) erred in granting U.S. Bank's motion to strike dated February 26, 2021, because the motion to strike (a) "did not comply with Practice Book § 10-41" and (b) was not directed to the operative complaint and (2) erred in granting U.S. Bank's motion for judgment dated September 21, 2021, because it was filed while an automatic appellate stay was in effect. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5232

AC44491 - Parnoff v. Stratford ("The plaintiff, Laurence V. Parnoff, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered following the granting of motions to strike filed by the defendants, the town of Stratford (town), Melinda Fonda, Berchem Moses PC (Berchem Moses), and Laura Hoydick. On appeal, the plaintiff argues that (1) his claims under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110a et seq., and his negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, all stemming from a public records request he made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (act), General Statutes § 1-200 et seq., were improperly stricken because he pleaded allegations sufficient to support those claims, and (2) the court improperly granted the motions to strike with prejudice. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5231

AC44878 - Healey v. Mantell ("This appeal arises out of an action brought by the plaintiffs, Gabrielle Ceruzzi Healey and James Ceruzzi, against the defendants Charles Mantell and David Novicki for claims originating out of the defendants' administration of the estate of Louis L. Ceruzzi, Jr. (decedent), the plaintiffs' father. The defendants were the coexecutors of the will and the cotrustees of trusts created by the will, and the plaintiffs were beneficiaries of one of these trusts.

The defendants appeal from the trial court's judgment granting their motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' action in its entirety. The defendants do not challenge the judgment of dismissal itself but, rather, they claim that, although the court properly granted their motion to dismiss, they nevertheless are aggrieved by certain additional determinations the court made that, although not necessary to the court's decision, could have a preclusive effect in a subsequent proceeding between the parties. Specifically, the defendants claim that the court improperly concluded that the plaintiffs had standing, as beneficiaries, to sue the defendants for their actions as coexecutors of the estate. We conclude that, because the court ultimately concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the entire action because counts one and three were not ripe and the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring count two, its determination regarding standing to bring counts one and three was not essential to the court's decision and is dictum. Consequently, because the determination regarding standing is dictum and cannot have a preclusive effect in subsequent proceedings between the parties, the defendants are not aggrieved. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5226

AC44749 - Gonzalez v. New Britain ("The plaintiff, Cristina Gonzalez, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendants, the city of New Britain (city) and James Davis, following the granting of the defendants' motion to strike the plaintiff's amended complaint on the basis of governmental immunity. On appeal, the plaintiff asserts that the court incorrectly concluded that her amended complaint was legally insufficient because she did not plead facts demonstrating that she was an identifiable victim for purposes of the identifiable person-imminent harm exception to governmental immunity. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5217

AC44506 - Laiuppa v. Moritz ("In this motor vehicle negligence action, the plaintiff, Paul Laiuppa, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant, Mary Moritz. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court (1) improperly determined that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to the applicability of the accidental failure of suit statute, General Statutes § 52-592, and (2) abused its discretion in granting the defendant's motion to reargue. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Environmental Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5218

AC44833 - 10 Marietta Street, LLC v. Melnick Properties, LLC ("The plaintiff, 10 Marietta Street, LLC, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Melnick Properties, LLC, Kenneth Maratea, Ellen Maratea, and Kathleen Bednarcik. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly determined that no genuine issue of material fact existed and the defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all thirty counts of the plaintiff's operative complaint, which seeks to hold the defendants responsible for environmental contamination of the plaintiff's property.We agree with the plaintiff that genuine issues of material fact exist regarding whether one or more of the defendants are legally responsible for the alleged contamination of the plaintiff's land and its groundwaters. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5208

AC42742 - Randolph v. Mambrino (Petition for new trial; summary judgment; "The self-represented petitioner, Gordon Randolph, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the respondents, Donna Mambrino and the state of Connecticut, and its subsequent dismissal of his petition for a new trial. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the trial court incorrectly concluded that General Statutes § 52-595, which provides for the tolling of the statute of limitations applicable to a particular cause of action upon proof by the party bringing the action that the defendant fraudulently concealed the existence of the cause of action, does not toll the three year limitation period of General Statutes § 52-582 applicable to petitions for a new trial brought under General Statutes § 52-270. We agree with the petitioner that the trial court incorrectly determined that § 52-595 does not apply to § 52-582. We also conclude, however, that the respondents are entitled to summary judgment because the petitioner, who alleges that the respondents intentionally concealed exculpatory evidence from him in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963), has failed to demonstrate that the facts, viewed most favorably to sustaining his claim under § 52-595, are sufficient to satisfy the stringent requirements of that tolling provision. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5200

AC44393 - DAB Three, LLC v. Fitzpatrick

AC44393 - Fischer v. Lawyers Title Corp. ("The plaintiff Alan Fischer appeals from the summary judgments rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation (LTIC) and Sandra Fitzpatrick on the plaintiff's complaints filed in two actions. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court incorrectly determined that both of his complaints were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgments of the court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5178

AC44555 - Doe v. Bemer ("The plaintiffs John Doe and Bob Doe, who had brought an action against the defendant Bruce Bemer that had been withdrawn in accordance with settlement agreements of the parties, appeal from the judgment of the trial court denying their motion for an order restoring the action to the docket (motion to restore) and from the court's denials of their motion for reargument and reconsideration and amended motion for reargument and reconsideration. The plaintiffs also filed an amended appeal challenging the court's failure to adjudicate and marking off their motion to enforce the settlement agreements, its denial of their motion for reconsideration relating to the disposition of their motion to enforce the settlement agreements, and the denial of their motion to terminate an appellate stay. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that (1) the denial of their motion to restore constituted harmful error, (2) the denial of their motion to reconsider the denial of their motion to restore was clearly erroneous, (3) the hearing on their motion to restore was inadequate and the court improperly failed to hold a hearing "with testimony from witnesses regarding the enforceability of the agreements" in accordance with Audubon Parking Associates Ltd. Partnership v. Barclay & Stubbs, Inc., 225 Conn. 804, 626 A.2d 729 (1993) (Audubon), (4) the court did not have the authority to refuse to rule on the plaintiffs' motion to enforce the settlement agreements, and (5) the court improperly refused to grant their motion to terminate an appellate stay and to order enforcement of the settlement agreements. We disagree with the plaintiffs and affirm the judgment of the court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5172

AC44524 - Adams v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. (Negligent entrustment; summary judgment; "The plaintiffs, John S. Adams and Mary Lou Hanney, brought the underlying action as coadministrators of the estate of their son, Ryan Michael Adams, who was eighteen years old when he died on September 20, 2015, in the airplane crash that also claimed the life of the eighteen year old, newly licensed pilot of the airplane, Cathryn Depuy. The plaintiffs now appeal from the summary judgment rendered against them on the two counts of their complaint brought against the defendant James W. Depuy, the father of the deceased pilot, which sounded in negligence and negligent entrustment.

The plaintiffs claim on appeal that the trial court improperly rendered summary judgment with respect to the negligent entrustment count. In particular, they claim that genuine issues of material fact remain in dispute regarding the defendant's rental of the Cessna 150H airplane that his daughter was piloting when it crashed, which, the plaintiffs contend, if proven, would demonstrate that he had the requisite control over the airplane to establish that he negligently entrusted the airplane to his daughter. We conclude that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on the negligent entrustment count because the undisputed facts demonstrate that, assuming he rented the airplane for his daughter's use, he nevertheless lacked the necessary control over the airplane to meet an essential element of a cause of action sounding in negligent entrustment. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5159

SC20543, SC20544 - Clinton v. Aspinwall (Action to recover damages for breach of contract and fiduciary duty; "When a court renders judgment in a multicount civil action with fewer than all counts of a plaintiff’s complaint accounted for in that judgment, jurisdictional alarm bells should ring if any party files an appeal, alerting the parties and the trial court to a potential final judgment problem. Before the parties and the appellate courts expend resources resolving the appeal, it is important to examine the rules of practice, statutes and our case law to determine whether an appeal can be taken from that judgment. See General Statutes §§ 51-197a and 52-263; Practice Book §§ 61-2 through 61-5. In Meribear Productions, Inc. v. Frank, 328 Conn. 709, 183 A.3d 1164 (2018), we held in the context of a court trial that, when legally consistent theories of recovery have been litigated but not all theories have been ruled on, there is no final judgment. The present appeals require us to determine whether the same threshold jurisdictional rule applies in the context of civil jury trials. We hold that it does and are therefore compelled to vacate the judgment of the Appellate Court and to remand this case to that court with direction to dismiss the appeals for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5153

AC44100 - Ocasio v. Verdura Construction, LLC (The plaintiff, Luis Ocasio, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered after a jury verdict in favor of the defendant Verdura Construction, LLC. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) the court erred when it instructed the jury and provided it with interrogatories to answer regarding the ongoing storm doctrine and (2) such error was harmful because it likely confused and misled the jury as to the relevant law. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5151

SC20511 - Priore v. Haig (Absolute Litigation Immunity; Defamation; "This certified appeal requires us to determine whether a public hearing on a special permit application before a town's planning and zoning commission is a quasi-judicial proceeding such that public statements made during the hearing are entitled to absolute immunity. The plaintiff, Thomas Priore, brought this defamation action against the defendant, Stephanie Haig, seeking to recover damages for injuries that he claims to have sustained as a result of the defendant's allegedly defamatory statements about the plaintiff made during a hearing before the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission. The plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court, which affirmed the trial court's judgment, concluding that the defendant's statements were entitled to absolute immunity. Priore v. Haig, 196 Conn. App. 675, 695, 712, 230 A.3d 714 (2020). On appeal, the plaintiff contends that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that the defendant's statements were entitled to absolute immunity because the hearing before the commission was not quasi-judicial and the statements concerning the plaintiff were not relevant to the subject matter of the commission's hearing. We agree with the plaintiff that the public hearing was not quasi-judicial in nature and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5129

SC20498 - Daley v. Kashmanian (Torts; General Statutes § 52-557n; Whether defendant entitled to governmental immunity for negligent operation of motor vehicle in course of conducting surveillance; "The sole issue in this certified appeal is whether a police officer who was involved in a crash while using an automobile to perform surveillance during an investigation of possible criminal activity was engaged in a discretionary act for purposes of governmental immunity under the common law or General Statutes § 52-557n (a) (2) (B). The plaintiff, Devonte Daley, appeals, upon our grant of his petition for certification, from the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing in part the judgment of the trial court, rendered in favor of the plaintiff after a jury trial, in this personal injury action against the defendants, Zachary Kashmanian, a police officer, and his employer, the city of Hartford (city). See Daley v. Kashmanian, 193 Conn. App. 171, 190, 219 A.3d 499 (2019). On appeal, the plaintiff contends that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that Kashmanian's actions during his surveillance of the plaintiff using a "soft car," which is an unmarked vehicle lacking police equipment, were discretionary acts for purposes of governmental immunity. We conclude that Kashmanian's operation of the soft car, including following the statutory rules of the road; see General Statutes § 14-212 et seq.; was a ministerial function and that the defendants, therefore, were not entitled to discretionary act immunity for Kashmanian's negligent operation of the soft car during the surveillance operation. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Business Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Oumano, Emily

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5118

AC44586 - Deutsche Bank AG v. Vik (“The defendants, Alexander Vik (Alexander) and Caroline Vik (Caroline), appeal from the judgment of the trial court denying their motion to dismiss, in which they asserted that the claims brought by the plaintiff, Deutsche Bank AG, were barred by the litigation privilege. On appeal, the defendants claim that the court improperly concluded that the litigation privilege does not bar the plaintiff's claims of tortious interference with business expectancy and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110a et seq. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.”)


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5122

AC44406 - Doe v. New Haven (“The plaintiff appeals from the trial court’s decision rendering summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the ground that the defendants were entitled to governmental immunity. The plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that (1) no genuine issues of material fact existed with respect to whether Johnson had a ministerial duty to report suspected child abuse under General Statutes § 17a-101 et seq., (2) Johnson’s deposition testimony did not establish the existence of two additional ministerial duties—specifically, a duty to prohibit free class periods and a duty to take attendance, and (3) the plaintiff was not an identifiable person subject to imminent harm for purposes of the identifiable person-imminent harm exception to governmental immunity for discretionary acts. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.”)


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5103

AC44436 - Brass Mill Center, LLC v. Subway Real Estate Corp. ("The defendant AlliedBarton Security Services, LLC, appeals from the judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the plaintiff, Brass Mill Center, LLC, granting summary judgment as to liability and awarding damages. The defendant argues that the trial court improperly concluded that it had a contractual duty (1) to defend the plaintiff in an underlying wrongful death action brought against the plaintiff and (2) to indemnify the plaintiff in that same wrongful death action, including for attorney’s fees and costs that the plaintiff incurred in pursuing claims against third parties. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Property Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5078

AC44377 - Kazemi v. Allen ("In this vexatious litigation action, the defendants, Lawrence Allen (Allen) and Green Tree Estate Association, Inc. (Green Tree), appeal from the judgment of the trial court in favor of the plaintiffs, Hossien Kazemi and Mahvash Mirzai. On appeal, the defendants claim that the trial court improperly (1) determined that the plaintiffs established that the defendants lacked probable cause to bring the claims for adverse possession and trespass in their counterclaim, (2) denied the defendants' motion for a directed judgement, (3) determined that the defendants failed to establish their advice of counsel defense, and (4) found that the defendants acted with malice. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5074

SC20537 - Costanzo v. Plainfield ("The apportionment statute, General Statutes § 52-572h, allows a party sued for damages resulting from personal injury, death or property damage caused by that party's negligence to file an apportionment complaint against additional parties, not named as defendants in the plaintiff's lawsuit, whose negligence caused the alleged losses. The statute expressly prohibits apportionment claims between a party liable for negligence and a party liable, among other things, "pursuant to any cause of action created by statute, except that liability may be apportioned among parties liable for negligence in any cause of action created by statute based on negligence . . . ." General Statutes § 52-572h (o). The central issue in this certified appeal is whether the apportionment statute, by this language, permits municipal defendants whose liability is based on General Statutes § 52-557n (b) (8) to file an apportionment complaint sounding in negligence. Section 52-557n (b) (8) renders municipal actors liable for damages and injuries that occur due to the failure to inspect or the negligent or inadequate inspection of property if (1) the municipality had notice of a hazard or violation of law (first exception), or (2) the act or omission "constitutes a reckless disregard for health or safety under all the relevant circumstances" (second exception).

Resolution of this appeal thus requires us to consider whether a claim brought under § 52-557n (b) (8) is a "cause of action created by statute based on negligence," such that apportionment is allowed under § 52-572h (o). As we explain herein, because § 52-557n (b) (8) expressly abrogates the common-law doctrine of municipal immunity, and because the first exception thereunder allows for a cause of action that we determine is based on negligence, we conclude that claims brought pursuant to that exception do qualify for apportionment.

The named plaintiff, Malisa Costanzo, the administratrix of the estate of the decedent, Isabella R. Costanzo, brought claims against the defendants, the town of Plainfield (town), and two of its employees, Robert Kerr and D. Kyle Collins, Jr., under § 52-557n (b) (8), stemming from the drowning of the decedent in a pool located on privately owned property in the town. Thereafter, the defendants filed a notice of intent to seek apportionment against the owners of the property where the pool was located and an apportionment complaint against the former tenants of the property, who had the pool constructed. The plaintiff objected to the defendants' efforts to seek apportionment, claiming that her complaint set forth a cause of action alleging recklessness or an intentional act under § 52-557n (b) (8), rather than negligence, and, therefore, that the apportionment statute did not apply. The trial court agreed and concluded that, "[i]f the defendants are found liable to the [plaintiff] on [the basis of] the [plaintiff's operative] revised complaint, it will be for reckless disregard for health [or] safety under all relevant . . . circumstances, not for negligence." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Therefore, the trial court issued orders sustaining the plaintiff's objections and dismissing the defendants' apportionment complaint and notice of intent to seek apportionment. The defendants appealed to the Appellate Court, and that court reversed the orders of the trial court, concluding that the plaintiff's claims under § 52-557n (b) (8) fell within the first exception, which it held to incorporate a negligence standard. See Costanzo v. Plainfield, 200 Conn. App. 755, 770, 239 A.3d 370 (2020). Consequently, the Appellate Court determined that § 52-572h (o) authorizes apportionment in connection with such claims. See id. We agree with the Appellate Court and, accordingly, affirm its judgment.")