Ortiz v. The Metropolitan District
Pursuant to the Connecticut Supreme Court's 2001 decision in Ferreira v. Pringle, the trial court does not have subject matter jurisdiction in a municipal highway defect case controlled by Connecticut General Statutes §13a-149, if the plaintiff fails to provide sufficient notice to the defendant municipality. Cynthia Ortiz filed an action against the Metropolitan District alleging, relevantly, that the district owned and controlled a water line and gate box cover at a certain intersection in Hartford. She alleged that the cover was off when she walked across the street, stepped into the hole, fell and suffered serious injuries to her leg, ankle, shin, toe, tibia, neck, shoulder and back. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the action for failure to comply fully with the notice provisions of C.G.S. §13a-149. The plaintiff appealed claiming that the court's dismissal was improper because her complaint also sounded in common-law negligence against the district and the notice she provided was sufficient to comply with C.G.S. §13a-149. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The panel concluded that C.G.S. §13a-149 provided the exclusive remedy in this municipal highway defect case and the notice provided to the district by the plaintiff was insufficient as a matter of law. As in the 1997 Connecticut Supreme Court case of Martin v. Plainville, the plaintiff in this case provided written notice stating that she "was injured." Our Supreme Court ruled that such notice lacked " a general description' " of the plaintiff's injuries as a matter of law and because the notice failed to set forth any description of the injuries sustained, rather than an inaccurate description, the cause of action could not be salvaged by the savings clause contained in C.G.S. §13a-149.