Supreme Court Year In Review
Supreme Court Overview: Two Pairs And A Lone Wolf
By DAN KRISCH
Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, the Connecticut Supreme Court resists easy division into neat ideological voting blocs. The past year proved, once again, the futility of labeling our Justices as "liberal," or "conservative": Justice Richard Palmer, for example, wrote two opinions that expanded the rights of criminal defendants, State v. Guilbert, 306 Conn. 218 (2012), and State v. Rose, 305 Conn. 594 (2012), but also, at the very end of the last Court year, authored a scathing pro-prosecution dissent, State v. Lenarz, 301 Conn. 417 (2012) (He was joined by Justice Peter Zarella, the one member of the Court who merits a conservative label.)
Supreme Court Insurance Law: New Burden Put On Insurers' Shoulders
By JOSEPH J. CHERICO
On March 27, 2012, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a decision in Arrowood Indemnity Co. v. King, 304 Conn. 179 (2012), which now places the burden on insurers to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they were prejudiced by late notice of claims under insurance policies in order to deny coverage on that ground.
Supreme Court Tort Law: Doctor Held Liable For Failure To Inform
By BRENDEN P. LEYDON
One recent case just released in August shed new light on a variety of complex issues. Downs v. Trias, 306 Conn. 81 (2012) arose from the plaintiff's claim against the defendant physician alleging that his negligence resulted in her developing ovarian cancer. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that defendant negligently failed to advise her to have her ovaries removed due to her extensive family history of cancer. The defendant physician was appealing from a $5 million dollar jury verdict against him.
Supreme Court First Amendment/FOI: Rulings Overturn 'Retaliation' Awards
By DANIEL J. KLAU
Employment lawyers are intimately acquainted with a curious statute, Connecticut General Statutes § 31-51q., which provides for a remedy against governmental and private employers who "discharge or discipline" an employee "on account of the exercise by such employee of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or section 3, 4 or 14 of article first of the Constitution of the state, provided such activity does not substantially or materially interfere with the employee's bona fide job performing or the working relationship between the employee and the employer."
Supreme Court Family Law: Making A Change In An Unmodifiable Alimony Order
By LIVIA DeFILIPPIS BARNDOLLAR
Two family law cases decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court in the past year stood out from the rest. One of them yielded a new approach to the consideration of the enforceability of nonmodification of child support provisions. The other raised a novel issue concerning the interrelationship of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act and dissolution of marriage judgments.
Connecticut's high court this term has again proved itself to be steadfastly faithful to longstanding precedent, but willing to push a little bit call it new wine in old bottles. This was especially so when compelling facts were front and center. Let's start with a remarkable decision that caught the attention of people across the country.
Supreme Court Civil Procedure: Intervention Ruling Affects Associations
By JAMES F. SULLIVAN
The Supreme Court rendered many decisions on the often bloodless topic of civil procedure. Some have much bearing on the rights of associations in pending cases and several expand the often criticized final judgment rule.
This past February, the Supreme Court advanced our understanding of the nettlesome Connecticut General Statutes § 52-190a, which requires plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to obtain a "good faith" written statement from a health care provider of the same specialty as the defendant. This decision, together with the Appellate Court's work on the same subject, went a considerable distance toward much needed clarification.
Supreme Court Business Law: Harsh Words And Broken Leases
By JEFFREY J. WHITE AND JAMIE M. LANDRY
The most significant business law case of the year received a great deal of publicity in both the legal and popular press. In Patino v. Birken Manufacturing Company, 304 Conn. 679 (2012), an opinion authored by Chief Justice Chase Rogers, the Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously held that Connecticut General Statute § 46a-81c (1) creates a cause of action for hostile work environment claims where employees are subjected to discrimination and harassment based on their sexual orientation. This decision deserves attention from executives and human resource personnel at all businesses, including in the manufacturing environment.
Supreme Court Employment Law: Decisions Limit Employee Free Speech Rights
By ROBERT G. BRODY and ABBY M. WARREN
This term, the Court decided two companion cases related to First Amendment free speech rights, Schumann v. Dianon and Perez-Dickson v. City of Bridgeport. Both cases involve reversing substantial plaintiff's awards and limiting the application of Connecticut General Statutes § 31-51q, a statute protecting employees from discipline or discharge for exercising their First Amendment rights under the state and federal constitutions.
In State v. Guilbert, 306 Conn. 218, the Court tackled the issue of whether a defendant is entitled to present expert testimony on the reliability of an eyewitness identification. In State v. Kemp, 199 Conn. 473 (1986) and again in State v. McClendon, 248 Conn. 572 (1999), the Court had previously concluded that expert testimony on the reliability of an eyewitness identification invaded the province of the jury.