Frandy v. Commissioner of Transportation
The plaintiff's notice of claim of a highway defect which merely stated that the cause of the plaintiff's bicycle accident was due to "the defective condition of the pavement" but did not specify the precise nature of the claimed defect, failed to state a cause of the injury as required by C.G.S. §13a-144. The defendant commissioner of transportation, Joseph Marie, appealed from the judgment of the trial court denying his motion to dismiss the first count of the complaint filed by the plaintiff, Karen Frandy. The defendant argued that the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the written notice provided by the plaintiff to the defendant pursuant to C.G.S. §13a-144 was fatally defective for failing to set forth a general description of the cause of the injury. The Appellate Court agreed and reversed the trial court's judgment. Because the plaintiff failed to file proper notice and defective written notice under C.G.S. §13a-144 implicates sovereign immunity, the trial court was deprived of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff's notice merely stated that the cause of the plaintiff's bicycle accident was due to "the defective condition of the pavement." It did not specify the precise nature of the claimed defect. The description patently failed to meet the statutory requirements. The plaintiff's claim was rejected that because she provided the exact location of the alleged "defective" pavement, her notice was sufficient under a reasonableness standard. No case was cited using a reasonableness standard to find a notice of claim sufficient where one of the five statutorily required elements was omitted. Further, because the complaint was served significantly beyond the 90 day period in which the notice had to be filed, the plaintiff's claim failed that her notice of claim was sufficient when considered in conjunction with her complaint which described the accident as caused by a hole in the road.