Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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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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Before they were married, Wife and Husband entered a prenuptial agreement. Approximately ten years later, Wife brought a marital dissolution action against Husband. In accordance with an agreement to arbitrate in the prenuptial agreement, the trial court ordered the parties to proceed to arbitration on the matter of the sale of the parties’ residence. The arbitrator issued a partial award and then a final award. The trial court confirmed the partial award and confirmed in part, modified in part, and vacated in part the final arbitration award. Defendant appealed. The trial court subsequently entered judgment dissolving the marriage, allocating property, interpreting the prenuptial agreement, and deciding all pending motions. Defendant filed a second appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly applied Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-66(c) to the agreement to arbitrate contained within the prenuptial agreement; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion for leave to file an amended answer and cross complaint; and (3) the arbitrator did not exceed her authority by issuing orders in contravention of the express terms of the prenuptial agreement. View "LaFrance v. Lodmell" on Justia Law

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Grievant, a state employee and a member of a Union, was terminated after he was caught smoking marijuana. The Union contested Grievant’s termination. Concluding that complete termination of Grievant’s conduct was not the only appropriate penalty for his misconduct, an arbitrator reinstated Grievant to his employment and imposed a number of sanctions and conditions short of termination. The trial court vacated the award, concluding that there was a well-defined public policy against the use of marijuana and that the arbitrator’s award violated that policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in concluding that reinstatement of the Grievant violated public policy. View "State v. Conn. Employees Union Indep." on Justia Law

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White Oak Corporation and the Department of Transportation entered into a contract for the reconstruction of a bridge and a portion of Interstate 95 in the City of Bridgeport. The project experienced significant delays such that the Department and White Oak reassigned the contract to another contractor for completion. White Oak subsequently filed a notice of claim and demand for arbitration seeking compensation for money wrongfully withheld by the Department, as liquidated damages, for delays in the project. An arbitration panel concluded that the liquidated damages clause in the parties’ contract was unenforceable, and therefore, White Oak was entitled to a return of nearly $5 million withheld by the Department. The trial court granted White Oak’s application to confirm the arbitration award. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the arbitration panel exceeded its authority in rendering an award on White Oak’s claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Appellate Court incorrectly determined that, in a prior action brought by the Department to enjoin the arbitration, the trial court limited the scope of the arbitrable issues in the present case to a claim of wrongful termination such that the arbitration panel lacked jurisdiction to decide White Oak’s liquidated damages claim. View "Dep’t of Transp. v. White Oak Corp." on Justia Law

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Kleen Energy Systems, LLC, an electric generating facility, entered into a contract with Connecticut Light and Power Company, an electric distribution company. A dispute subsequently arose concerning the proper interpretation of the contract’s pricing provision. At the request of Waterside Power, LLC, which had entered into a similar contract with Connecticut Light and Power, the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, acting through the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (the Authority), conducted proceedings to resolve the dispute. Kleen Energy was a participant in, but not a party to, those proceedings. Waterside subsequently filed a petition for a declaratory ruling challenging the decision. The Authority issued a declaratory ruling denying Waterside relief. Kleen Energy filed an administrative appeal from the Authority’s ruling, claiming that it had a contractual right to submit the dispute to arbitration and that the Authority lacked jurisdiction to issue a declaratory ruling to resolve the dispute. The trial court ultimately concluded (1) the Authority had jurisdiction to issue a declaratory ruling to resolve the dispute, (2) Kleen Energy had waived its contractual right to arbitration, and (3) the Authority had properly resolved the dispute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in determining that the Authority had jurisdiction to resolve the pricing dispute. View "Kleen Energy Sys., LLC v. Comm’r of Energy & Envtl. Prot." on Justia Law

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At issue in this certified appeal was whether Plaintiff, the city of New Britain, agreed to arbitrate a dispute with certain city employees, classified as foremen, regarding an alleged violation of the city's civil service rules. The trial court denied Plaintiff's application to vacate the arbitration award in favor of Defendant, AFSCME, Council 4, Local 1186. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the appellate court improperly concluded that Plaintiff agreed to arbitrate the foremen's dispute in a settlement agreement between the parties. Because Plaintiff did not agree to arbitrate the dispute, it could not be compelled to submit to arbitration. Remanded with direction to grant Plaintiff's application to vacate the arbitration award. View "City of New Britain v. AFSCME, Council 4, Local 1186" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, John and Colm Farrell, were allegedly involved in a motor vehicle accident with an insured of Defendant, Twenty-First Century Insurance Company. Plaintiffs filed an action against Defendant, seeking damages for personal injuries arising out of the accident. During a pretrial conference, the parties agreed to settle Plaintiffs' claims and, allegedly, further agreed to arbitrate Plaintiffs' claims. Subsequently, Plaintiffs filed an action against Defendant seeking a court order to compel arbitration. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that there was no clear manifestation of an agreement to arbitrate. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court, holding that, after drawing all inferences in favor of Plaintiffs, no genuine issue of material fact existed with regard to whether the parties had an enforceable agreement to arbitrate. View "Farrell v. Twenty-First Century Ins. Co." on Justia Law