Hancock v. Cavallaro
Allegations that a police officer stopped a driver and that the driver attempted to flee and began to drive away, dragging the police officer, can be sufficient to allege recklessness. On June 2, 2011, the plaintiff police officer, David Hancock, allegedly stopped a Toyota Corolla in West Haven, Conn., because the defendant driver, Michael Cavallaro, was using a cell. Allegedly, the police officer's arm entered the defendant's motor vehicle, because he was reaching for the defendant's driver's license, and the defendant suddenly began to drive away, dragging the plaintiff police officer. The plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging that he was reckless, in violation of common law and Connecticut General Statutes §§14-222 and 14-295. The defendant moved to strike the recklessness counts. "Allegations of recklessness differ from allegations of negligence because reckless conduct tends to take on the aspect of highly unreasonable conduct, involving an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation where a high degree of danger is apparent," pursuant to Pecan v. Madigan, a 2006 decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court. Allegations that the defendant driver accelerated his motor vehicle when he knew, or should have known, this posed a substantial risk of injury to the plaintiff, were sufficient to allege common-law recklessness. The majority view concerning statutory recklessness is that the plaintiff must plead that the defendant violated one of the enumerated statutory provisions in C.G.S. §14-295 and that the violation was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's injuries. Allegations that the defendant driver attempted to drive away while the plaintiff's arm was in his motor vehicle, in violation of C.G.S. §14-222, and that the defendant driver's conduct was a substantial factor in the plaintiff police officer's injuries, were sufficient to allege statutory recklessness. The court denied the defendant driver's motion to strike.