Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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Plaintiff were a class of state employees and retirees who were enrolled in an Anthem Insurance group health insurance plan at the time of the 2001 demutualization of Anthem Insurance Companies. Plaintiffs brought suit against former Governor John Rowland, the State, Anthem Insurance, and other insurance company defendants alleging that their participation in the plan entitled them to membership in Anthem Insurance and a share of the demutualization proceeds. Plaintiffs claimed that Anthem Insurance and the other insurance company defendants breached their contractual obligations by not paying Plaintiffs for their membership interests and instead distributing their share of the proceeds to the State. The Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiffs’ claims against Rowland and the State were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity or otherwise should have been dismissed. After a trial, the trial court rendered judgment for the remaining defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that the relevant contract provisions were ambiguous as to Plaintiffs’ eligibility for membership in Anthem Insurance and their entitlement to a share of the demutualization proceeds and properly considered extrinsic evidence to determine their meaning. View "Gold v. Rowland" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Connecticut corporation that operates Domino’s pizza franchises, filed a petition for a declaratory ruling with the Labor Commissioner seeking a determination that it could pay a reduced minimum wage to its delivery drivers because they regularly receive gratuities that result in the drivers earning in excess of the minimum wage. Plaintiff relied on Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-60(b), which directs the Commissioner, acting through the Department of Labor, to adopt regulations that recognize that employers may include gratuities as part of the minimum fair wage for certain employees in the restaurant and hotel industries (tip credit). At issue in this case was whether the Department’s regulations that limit the tip credit to bartenders and traditional waitstaff and do not allow employers to count gratuities toward the minimum wage for other employees such as restaurant delivery drivers, conflict with the enabling statute. The Commissioner issued a declaratory ruling finding that Plaintiff’s drivers were not subject to a tip credit. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the regulations at issue are not incompatible with section 31-60(b). View "Amaral Brothers, Inc. v. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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The Board of Review of the Employment Security Appeals Division found Southwest Appraisal Group, LLC (Plaintiff) liable for unemployment compensation taxes, plus interest, for three of its automobile appraisers following an audit by the Administrator of the Unemployment Compensation Act (Defendant). The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal, deeming the three appraisers to be employees on the ground that Plaintiff had failed to prove that they had performed appraisal services for anyone other than Plaintiff despite evidence indicating that they operated independent businesses. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly upheld the Board’s construction of Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-222(a)(1)(B)(ii), namely, that part C of the ABC test requires putative independent contractors to be customarily engaged in an independently established - and successful - trade, occupation, profession or business. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that evidence of the performance of services for third parties is not required to prove part C of the ABC test but, rather, is a single factor that may be considered under the totality of the circumstances analysis governing that inquiry. View "Southwest Appraisal Group, LLC v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act" on Justia Law

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When Employee received less compensation from Employer than that to which he believed he was entitled, Employee began to work for a competitor of Employer and to receive compensation for that work. Employer later terminated Employee’s employment and filed this action, alleging that Employee had breached the duty of loyalty to Employer by performing work on his own behalf during Employer’s workday and by accepting kickbacks from a subcontractor in connection with his work for Employer. The trial court held that Employee had violated his duty of loyalty to Employer. As part of its remedy, the trial court imposed a constructive trust on a bank account held jointly by Employee and his wife. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court’s award of damages was supported by the evidence; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to order additional monetary relief; and (3) the trial court’s imposition of a constructive trust on the joint bank account was not warranted on the evidence presented. View "Wall Systems, Inc. v. Pompa" on Justia Law

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A police union and the City of Norwalk were parties to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) governing the terms and conditions of employment for certain city police officers. The CBA provided that disputes over its interpretation will be resolved through arbitration. The Board of Police Commissioners determined that Stephen Couture, a police sergeant employed by the Norwalk Police Department, had violated departmental rules and that his employment should be terminated. Couture ultimately initiated an arbitration proceeding with the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration, and a majority of the arbitration board found that Couture had been terminated for just cause. The trial court vacated the arbitration award on the ground that the City had disciplined Couture twice for the same misconduct in manifest disregard of the law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration board’s decision was not in manifest disregard of the law, and therefore, the trial court improperly vacated the award of the arbitration board. View "Norwalk Police Union, Local 1727 v. City of Norwalk" on Justia Law

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After he was terminated, Employee sued Employer, alleging, inter alia, disability discrimination. After a trial, the jury trial returned a verdict in favor of Employee and awarded him, inter alia, $500,000 in statutory punitive damages. Employer moved to set aside the award of punitive damages. The trial court granted the motion, determining that Conn. Gen. Stat. 46a-104 does not provide for an award of statutory punitive damages as a remedy for discriminatory practices under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 46a-104 does not authorize punitive damages in employment discrimination cases. View "Tomick v. United Parcel Service, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was employed as a police officer by Defendant when he was injured. The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner dismissed Plaintiff’s claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits, concluding that Plaintiff had not departed his “place of abode” for duty as a police officer at the time he sustained his injury, and therefore, the incident was not compensable. The Workers’ Compensation Board affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff was acting “in the course of his employment” at the time he was injured, and therefore, the Board erred in affirming the Commissioner’s decision to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim. View "Balloli v. New Haven Police Department" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Plaintiff’s decedent filed notices of claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission assigned the decedent’s claims to its asbestos docket for adjudication. After the decedent died, Plaintiff, his widow, filed a claim for dependent benefits that was joined with the original claims. The Connecticut Insurance Guaranty Association became a defendant in the proceedings. The Association was originally dismissed from the case for lack of exposure. The Commissioner later reinstated the Association as a party to the proceedings. The Workers’ Compensation Review Board affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the Board’s decision, holding that the Commissioner properly reinstated the Association as a party to the proceedings because the Commissioner’s broad case management authority permitted him to render a dismissal that was provisional, rather than final, in nature. View "Graham v. Olson Wood Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1996, Plaintiff was hired by Defendant, the New Haven Police Department, as a police officer. In 2011, Plaintiff suffered a myocardial infarction. Plaintiff later filed a claim for benefits under Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-433c(a) for hypertension and heart disease. The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner dismissed Plaintiff’s claim for benefits related to his hypertension as untimely but granted his claim for benefits related to his heart disease and myocardial infarction. The Workers’ Compensation Review Board affirmed. Defendant appealed, arguing that the Board improperly affirmed the Commissioner’s decision that Plaintiff’s hypertension and heart disease were separate diseases, each with its own limitation period for filing a claim for benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the medical evidence supported the Board’s conclusion that Plaintiff’s hypertension and heart disease were separate medical conditions; and (2) the Board properly affirmed the Commissioner’s decision granting Plaintiff benefits pursuant to section 7-433c related to heart disease. View "Holston v. New Haven Police Department" on Justia Law

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James Doughty was injured during the course of his employment with Connecticut Reliable Welding, LLC (Reliable). Pacific Insurance Company, Ltd. (Pacific) had issued an insurance policy providing workers’ compensation coverage to Reliable and, therefore, paid Doughty workers’ compensation benefits. Pacific brought this action against Defendants - steel and construction companies - alleging negligence. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that that Pacific did not have standing to bring an action under either Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-293 or the common law doctrine of equitable subrogation. Pacific filed a motion to substitute Reliable as the party plaintiff. The trial court denied Pacific’s motion and granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaint. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a workers’ compensation insurer can maintain an equitable subrogation claim against third-party tortfeasors to recover benefits it has paid on behalf of an insured employer to an injured employee, and therefore, Pacific can properly assert an equitable subrogation claim. Remanded. View "Pacific Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Champion Steel, LLC" on Justia Law