Sep 15 2017

Connecticut Law Update (September 2017)

Negligence – Foreseeability

Hutchins v. Metro Taxi Company, Inc., Superior Court of Connecticut, 2017 WL 1656918. The plaintiff alleged that she was assaulted while travelling as a passenger in the defendant’s taxi cab. According to the plaintiff, two males suddenly approached the taxi cab, became verbally abusive, and opened the rear door. A struggle ensued and one of the male assailants punched the plaintiff in the face with brass knuckles. The plaintiff alleged that the taxi cab driver was negligent in failing to lock the doors and by failing to drive away from the scene in time to prevent her injuries. The court held that as a common carrier, the defendant owed a heightened duty of care to aid and protect its passengers. This duty of care could extend to protecting passengers from the criminal assaults of third parties. Nevertheless, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant because the plaintiff submitted no evidence to establish that the assault at issue was foreseeable. Specifically, the court noted that there was no evidence presented to show that the defendant had knowledge of prior violent crimes in the area.

Brian Gibbons - bgibbons@morrisonmahoney.com

Amended Claim - Loss of Consortium

Collier v. Norm Bloom and Son, LLC, Superior Court of Connecticut, 2017 WL 1901867. The plaintiff filed a negligence action in March 2014, arising out of an incident occurring in mid-April 2011. After the plaintiff’s death, the plaintiff’s estate filed a request to amend to convert the negligence claim to a claim for wrongful death under C.G.S. §52-555. In addition, the estate requested to add claims for loss of consortium. The defendant objected to adding the loss of consortium claims, arguing that they were barred by the statute of limitations and did not relate back to the original claim. The court examined the statutory language, holding that “when a wrongful death claim can be asserted, an associated post-mortem loss of consortium claim can also be asserted…with the limitations period applicable to the wrongful death claim being applicable to the wrongful-death-based loss of consortium claim as well.” The court acknowledged that the ante-mortem loss of consortium claim was not as clear, but ultimately allowed the claim to proceed, reasoning that ante-mortem and post-mortem were issues of damages, and not the sufficiency of the claim. Finally, the court indicated that this decision was limited by the parties’ arguments. The parties did not treat ante-mortem and post-mortem claims as separate; therefore, the decision treated them as one claim.

Emily Holland - eholland@morrisonmahoney.com

Common Law Indemnification

Maxwell v. Bozelko, Superior Court of Connecticut, 2017 WL 3251294. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had caused them to rely on a forged deed when acquiring a property. The plaintiffs sought indemnification from the defendants for the costs of litigation arising from an action brought against plaintiffs by the true owner of the property and for the judgment entered against the plaintiffs in that action. The issue before the court was whether the plaintiffs had properly alleged a cause of action for indemnification. The defendants filed motions to strike arguing the plaintiffs’ claims for common law indemnification were actually tort claims sounding in negligence or fraud. The defendants also filed motions for summary judgment on the grounds that the tort claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The court granted both the motions to strike and the motions for summary judgment. The court held that the indemnification claims fail because the duties owed to the true owner by the defendants and the plaintiffs, respectively, were not identical. Further, the court held that the plaintiffs’ damages incurred in defending the underlying action did not discharge an obligation for which the plaintiffs and defendants were jointly and severely liable.

Eva Kolstad - ekolstad@morrisonmahoney.com

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