Discrimination Actions – Statute of Limitations

Authored by: Justin R. Bengtson

Schofield v. Rafley Inc., 222 Conn. App. 448 (2023). In March 2014, plaintiff was hired by a business that operated automobile maintenance and repair shops.  Plaintiff filed an employment discrimination complaint in 2016 alleging employment discrimination on the basis of plaintiff’s “gender identity or expression” and received a release of jurisdiction from the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”). Plaintiff commenced a timely civil action against defendant.  Plaintiff remained employed by the defendant for over a year after commencing the action, but was eventually terminated on May 14, 2018 after an alleged performance issue.  Plaintiff then timely filed a second complaint with the CHRO, alleging that she was retaliated against for bringing the first action.  Plaintiff received a release of jurisdiction on November 5, 2018.  Plaintiff sought leave from the court in the initial action to add the retaliation count, but the court denied the request on December 20, 2018.  Plaintiff needed to file a complaint with the Superior Court on or before February 3, 2020 to comply with the ninety-day statutory mandate.  Plaintiff did not commence an action in the Superior Court alleging retaliation until May 23, 2019.  Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the employment discrimination claim, which was granted on October 6, 2020.  The court declined to apply the “reasonably related” exception to the case, which can excuse a plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies in cases where it would “unfair, inefficient, or contrary to the purposes of the statute to require a party to separate re-exhaust new violations that are reasonably related to the initial claim.”  The court noted that the “reasonably related” exception could not apply as plaintiff filed a timely complaint with the CHRO, and obtained a release of jurisdiction, thereby exhausting her administrative remedies.  Notably, in affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the action, the Appellate Court referenced its 2022 decision in Sokolovsky v. Mulholland, where it concluded that the time limitation in C.G.S. § 46a-101(e) is “mandatory and not jurisdictional,” making it subject to defenses such as waiver and equitable tolling.  The Court observed that plaintiff failed to properly preserve a waiver/equitable tolling claim, but raising/preserving those claims could have warranted reversal of the Court’s dismissal.



Sovereign Immunity – Imminent Harm to an Identifiable Person Exception

Authored by: Megan Kittler

Francis Angelino v. State of Connecticut and Town Of Madison, Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, 2023 WL 8594607 (Dec. 6, 2023). This case arose out of a trip and fall incident that occurred after a fireworks show that the Town of Madison (“defendant”) hosted. Plaintiff alleged that after the show ended, the town police were directing pedestrian traffic and were requiring the pedestrians to cross a specific area of land that was not well lit and was under construction. As plaintiff crossed said area of land, he tripped and fell on an uneven surface.  Defendant moved for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff could not establish a genuine issue of material fact as to his negligence claim because defendant is immune from liability pursuant to C.G.S. § 52-557n(a)(2). Plaintiff argued that the acts he complained of fell within the exception to immunity for discretionary acts for imminent harm to an identifiable person. The Court granted defendant’s motion on the ground that Plaintiff was not an identifiable victim, which was one of the three requirements for this exception.  The Court first noted that the only class of foreseeable victims that the Connecticut courts have recognized are school children at school during regular school hours.  The Court went on to explain that generally a party is an identifiable victim when he or she is compelled to be somewhere and in this matter the Court could not find that Plaintiff was compelled to be at the fireworks show or the specific location where he fell.  As such, the Court granted the motion because plaintiff did not present any evidence to rebut defendant’s assertion that he was not an identifiable victim, and if the “plaintiff[ ] fail[s] to establish any one of the three prongs, this failure will be fatal to [his] claim that [he is] within the imminent harm exception.”



Premises Liability – Good Samaritan Law

Authored by: Emiko W. Schaeffer

Blanco v. Chelsea Piers Connecticut LLC, et al., Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, 2023 WL 8594670 (Dec. 6, 2023).  This case arose out of a medical emergency wherein the assistant coach of the Greenwich Rugby Club went into sudden cardiac arrest during a practice session.  Defendant owned and operated the sports facility where the incident occurred. In responding to the incident, defendant’s staff members promptly retrieved an automated external defibrillator (“AED”) and attempted to use it on the assistant coach, but it did not operate properly.  As a result, the assistant coach was treated with aggressive CPR resulting in broken ribs and extensive cardiac rehabilitation. Plaintiffs brought suit alleging negligence against the facility, namely that it failed to have a properly functioning AED available and failed to properly train its staff members.  Defendants moved for summary judgment on statutory immunity grounds, claiming entitlement to same under the “Good Samaritan law.”  Plaintiffs argued that the allegations in the complaint sounded in gross negligence as opposed to ordinary negligence, thereby rendering statutory immunity inapplicable. The Court explained that an entity providing an AED can be immunized for the acts or omissions of a person or entity in providing or maintaining the AED, which may constitute ordinary negligence.  Because plaintiffs’ complaint was predicated upon the delayed administration of an AED that resulted in injuries, there was no implication of an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of care, and the motion was granted on all counts.