Connecticut State Police Union v. State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
"[W]hen a process of statutory interpretation establishes that the state officials acted beyond their authority, sovereign immunity does not bar an [action] seeking declaratory or injunctive relief," pursuant to Miller v. Egan, a 2003 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. The plaintiff union requested a court injunction to reinstate Connecticut State Troopers who were discharged in August and September 2011. The union also requested an order that the defendant commissioner appoint additional troopers, to comply with the statutory requirement in Connecticut General Statutes §29-4 that there be 1,248 troopers. State defendants moved to dismiss and argued that they were entitled to sovereign immunity and did not consent to suit. The plaintiff union objected that the defendants exceeded their authority, because they did not maintain the amount of state troopers required by statute. The court found that an exception to sovereign immunity exists for injunctive relief for conduct allegedly in excess of an officer's statutory authority. Ruling on an issue of first impression in Connecticut, the court found that, although the statute does not penalize nonperformance, the use of the word "shall," which the legislature substituted for the word "may" when it amended the statute in 1998, indicates that the statute does not merely provide the commissioner the authority to appoint 1,248 troopers; it directs that the commissioner appoint that many. The court observed that an amendment to add the words "to the best of his ability" to the statute, which would have afforded discretion to the commissioner, was rejected. The court also found that the union is classically aggrieved, because one of the purposes of the statute is to make troopers safer, and the union represents the interests of troopers in work conditions. The political question doctrine, which serves to protect separation of powers among the branches of government, also does not bar the union's claims, and the court denied the state defendants' motion to dismiss.