Mills v. The Solution, LLC
Connecticut General Statutes §7-284 vests the chief of police with the discretion to determine whether police protection is necessary at private events and, if so, the amount of such protection. The Bridgeport Police Department issued a permit for 5 Star Amusement Company, Inc. to hold a carnival. The permit required that security be provided and coordinated with the police department's outside overtime office. Bridgeport's parks and recreation department also issued a permit. At the carnival, Clarence Mills was fatally shot. The executrix of his estate, Maria Mills, commenced this action alleging that the decedent's injuries and damages were a result of the negligence and carelessness of various defendants including 5 Star, Philip Handy, the director of Bridgeport's department of parks and recreation and Anthony Armeno, the acting chief of police. The plaintiff sought indemnity from the city for the negligence of Handy, in allowing the carnival to be held without adequate security or police coverage and Armeno, in failing to provide sufficient police coverage. The trial court granted summary judgment to certain defendants including 5 Star, Bridgeport, Handy and Armeno. The plaintiff appealed claiming, inter alia, that the court improperly concluded that no genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the municipal defendants had qualified immunity because C.G.S. §7-284 imposed a ministerial duty to provide police protection. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The trial court properly rendered summary judgment to the municipal defendants pursuant to C.G.S. §52-557n because their allegedly negligent acts were discretionary in nature and were not performed for a pecuniary benefit. The plaintiff argued, essentially, that once the chief made the discretionary determination that police protection was necessary, the chief then had a ministerial duty to furnish such protection and violated that duty by failing to provide any police protection at the carnival. The word "shall" in the phrase "the amount of such protection necessary shall be determined and shall be furnished by…the chief…" in C.G.S. §7-284, was found insufficient to convert what was otherwise a discretionary act into a ministerial duty when the statute's text left to the chief's discretion how to perform the function and whether to perform the function at all. A ministerial duty to furnish police protection did not flow from the discretionary act of determining whether police protection was necessary.