Moroni v. Town of Old Saybrook
A defective bench that is located adjacent to a sidewalk on a city street can qualify as a "highway defect," for purposes of Connecticut General Statutes §13a-149, the highway defect act. In May 2011, the plaintiff, Lawrence Moroni, allegedly sat on a public bench adjacent to Main Street in Old Saybrook, and the bench collapsed. Moroni provided written notice to the municipality that indicated that the bench was located between the sidewalk and the street. Moroni sued. The municipality moved to dismiss and argued that Moroni did not qualify as a "traveler," and that the bench did not qualify as a "highway defect." The court found that the party that maintained the road contemplated that travelers would rest on the bench. Moroni used the bench for the purpose for which the bench was designed. Moroni could withdraw from use of the road temporarily and keep his legal status as a "traveler," for purposes of the highway defect act. An 1861 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Manchester v. City of Hartford, held that a sidewalk that runs along a street can qualify as part of the road. Courts in other jurisdictions have held that the area between the sidewalk and the street may qualify as part of the street, for purposes of the highway defect act. The court denied the municipality's motion to dismiss.