Rouleau v. Town of Suffield
Allegations that a municipality failed to maintain a bridge may not be adequate to alleged that the municipality committed a positive act, as required to allege a nuisance. The plaintiff property owners sued the Town of Suffield, alleging that about 19 years after the municipality built a concrete structure with pipes across Stony Brook, with a roadbed on top for motor vehicles, the plaintiffs' property was flooded when the openings in the concrete structure became blocked. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant municipality negligently designed and maintained the concrete structure and that the concrete structure constituted a nuisance. The defendant municipality moved for summary judgment on the negligence count and argued it was entitled to government immunity. Connecticut General Statutes §52-557n(a)(2) provides that a municipality is not legally responsible for "negligent acts or omissions which require the exercise of judgment or discretion as an official function of the authority expressly or impliedly granted by law." The court found that the municipality was entitled to government immunity for the allegedly negligent performance of discretionary government duties. "[T]he plaintiffs," wrote the court, "have neither alleged nor offered evidence of a policy or directive mandating how the defendant is to design, construct, inspect and maintain a structure built to support a roadway over a watercourse." The municipality also claimed that the plaintiffs did not adequately allege it engaged in a positive act, as required to allege a nuisance. The court found that the plaintiffs' complaint alleged that the municipality failed to act, because it permitted the concrete structure to become blocked. The plaintiffs' complaint alleged omissions, as opposed to positive acts required to prove nuisance, and the court granted the municipality's motion for summary judgment.