Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557n

Current through the 2020 Third Special Session
Section 52-557n - Liability of political subdivision and its employees, officers and agents. Liability of members of local boards and commissions
(a)
(1) Except as otherwise provided by law, a political subdivision of the state shall be liable for damages to person or property caused by:
(A) The negligent acts or omissions of such political subdivision or any employee, officer or agent thereof acting within the scope of his employment or official duties;
(B) negligence in the performance of functions from which the political subdivision derives a special corporate profit or pecuniary benefit; and
(C) acts of the political subdivision which constitute the creation or participation in the creation of a nuisance; provided, no cause of action shall be maintained for damages resulting from injury to any person or property by means of a defective road or bridge except pursuant to section 13a-149.
(2) Except as otherwise provided by law, a political subdivision of the state shall not be liable for damages to person or property caused by:
(A) Acts or omissions of any employee, officer or agent which constitute criminal conduct, fraud, actual malice or wilful misconduct; or
(B) negligent acts or omissions which require the exercise of judgment or discretion as an official function of the authority expressly or impliedly granted by law.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a political subdivision of the state or any employee, officer or agent acting within the scope of his employment or official duties shall not be liable for damages to person or property resulting from:
(1) The condition of natural land or unimproved property;
(2) the condition of a reservoir, dam, canal, conduit, drain or similar structure when used by a person in a manner which is not reasonably foreseeable;
(3) the temporary condition of a road or bridge which results from weather, if the political subdivision has not received notice and has not had a reasonable opportunity to make the condition safe;
(4) the condition of an unpaved road, trail or footpath, the purpose of which is to provide access to a recreational or scenic area, if the political subdivision has not received notice and has not had a reasonable opportunity to make the condition safe;
(5) the initiation of a judicial or administrative proceeding, provided that such action is not determined to have been commenced or prosecuted without probable cause or with a malicious intent to vex or trouble, as provided in section 52-568;
(6) the act or omission of someone other than an employee, officer or agent of the political subdivision;
(7) the issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of, or failure or refusal to issue, deny, suspend or revoke any permit, license, certificate, approval, order or similar authorization, when such authority is a discretionary function by law, unless such issuance, denial, suspension or revocation or such failure or refusal constitutes a reckless disregard for health or safety;
(8) failure to make an inspection or making an inadequate or negligent inspection of any property, other than property owned or leased by or leased to such political subdivision, to determine whether the property complies with or violates any law or contains a hazard to health or safety, unless the political subdivision had notice of such a violation of law or such a hazard or unless such failure to inspect or such inadequate or negligent inspection constitutes a reckless disregard for health or safety under all the relevant circumstances;
(9) failure to detect or prevent pollution of the environment, including groundwater, watercourses and wells, by individuals or entities other than the political subdivision; or
(10) conditions on land sold or transferred to the political subdivision by the state when such conditions existed at the time the land was sold or transferred to the political subdivision.
(c) Any person who serves as a member of any board, commission, committee or agency of a municipality and who is not compensated for such membership on a salary or prorated equivalent basis, shall not be personally liable for damage or injury occurring on or after October 1, 1992, resulting from any act, error or omission made in the exercise of such person's policy or decision-making responsibilities on such board, commission, committee or agency if such person was acting in good faith, and within the scope of such person's official functions and duties, and was not acting in violation of any state, municipal or professional code of ethics regulating the conduct of such person, or in violation of subsection (a) of section 9-369b or subsection (b) or (c) of section 1-206. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply if such damage or injury was caused by the reckless, wilful or wanton misconduct of such person.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557n

(P.A. 86-338, S. 13; P.A. 92-198; P.A. 93-290.)

Cited. 208 C. 161; 214 Conn. 1. Court construed statute to provide action under Sec. 13a-149 is plaintiff's exclusive remedy against political subdivision for damages resulting from a defective road or bridge. 219 C. 179. Common law action for nuisance is barred by section. Id., 641. Cited. 229 C. 829; 231 C. 370; 233 C. 524; 235 Conn. 408; 238 Conn. 653; Id., 687. Section allows plaintiffs to bring direct cause of action for negligence against municipality; in absence of reference to Sec. 7-308 or 7-465, statutes can coexist and a party may choose to rely on either statute. 263 C. 22. Whether driveway upon which plaintiff was driving was a private thoroughfare, thereby falling within the purview of section, or whether it was public, thereby falling within the purview of Sec. 13a-149, is a question of fact to be determined by the trial court. 315 C. 606. Action was untimely and savings provision in Sec. 52-593 does not apply in municipal liability action under this section because plaintiff could have recovered from defendants in original action, based on the factual allegations and causes of action in the original complaint. Id., 821. Cited. 32 CA 373; judgment reversed, see 229 Conn. 829; 36 CA 601; 42 Conn.App. 624. Absent specific language in this section modifying common law rule of governmental immunity for claims of strict liability pursuant to Sec. 22-357, that section should not be so construed. 58 CA 702. Section does not bar recovery from a political subdivision where circumstances make it apparent to the public officer that his or her failure to act would be likely to subject an identifiable person to imminent harm. 60 CA 178. Court provided jury with clear guidance on the issue of agency with respect to town's potential liability. 68 CA 284. Complaint alleging that city negligently failed to maintain a stairway in a reasonably safe condition constituted an allegation of negligent performance of a discretionary, rather than ministerial, act and therefore city was immune from liability pursuant to statute that exempts political subdivisions from liability for negligent acts of its employees that require the exercise of judgment or discretion. 71 CA 844. Plaintiff's statutory negligence claims were barred by governmental immunity. 87 CA 353. Cited. 41 CS 420; 42 CS 22; 44 CS 45; Id., 527. Summary judgment granted for municipal defendants in matter where plaintiff alleged that defendant's failure to timely respond to 911 call and provide effective medical care resulted in her son's death; plaintiff unable to invoke identifiable person, imminent harm exception to defendant's claimed governmental immunity because decedent was not identifiable nor was the harm imminent. 49 CS 200. Subsec. (a): Subdiv. (1)(C): Liability in nuisance can be imposed on a municipality only if condition constituting the nuisance was created by positive act of the municipality. 245 C. 385. Subdiv. (2)(A): Plaintiff's claim against city for intentional infliction of emotional distress by city employee is barred by governmental immunity. 267 C. 669. Subdiv. (1)(B) codifies common law rule that municipalities are liable for their negligent acts committed in their proprietary capacity. 279 C. 830. Appellate Court improperly concluded that plaintiff, the mother of a 6-year-old child attending after school program located within a public school, fell within identifiable person, imminent harm exception to governmental immunity; only persons recognized for purposes of exception are school children attending public schools during school hours. 284 C. 91. Subdiv. (2)(B): Governmental immunity applicable to defendants, board of education and certain public school officials, because plaintiff, a summer program supervisor who slipped on urine in the school bathroom where program was located, was not an identifiable person subject to imminent harm because the potential for harm was neither sufficiently immediate nor sufficiently certain. 294 C. 265. Subdiv. (1)(A): The identifiable person, imminent harm common-law exception to municipal employee's qualified immunity is also applicable in an action brought directly against a municipality under Subdiv., regardless of whether an employee or officer of municipality is also a named defendant; plaintiff resident who was injured at transfer station was not a member of a class of foreseeable victims because he was not legally required to dispose of his refuse by taking it to transfer station and could have hired an independent contractor to do so. Id., 324. Subdiv. (1)(C): Trial court properly struck plaintiffs' claims asserted pursuant to Subpara. (C) on grounds that defendants may not be held liable for damages caused by their failure to act to abate an alleged public nuisance because Subpara. (C) contains a positive act requirement. 295 C. 141. Common law identifiable person, imminent harm exception to governmental immunity for discretionary acts applicable in action solely against municipality under Subdiv. (1)(A). 296 C. 518. Subdiv. (1)(A) is grounded in common law negligence cause of action and does not create a new kind of cause of action, but provides that political subdivisions may be held liable for certain common law negligence claims against them and their employees; negligence claims against chaperones at a school dance are barred by doctrine of qualified immunity because such chaperones were performing governmental acts, were acting in the exercise of discretion and no exception applied. 301 C. 112. Subdiv. (1): Town is protected by governmental immunity and duty to warn of hazardous conditions is discretionary; failure to allege town owned or controlled land the use of which unreasonably interfered with plaintiffs' use or enjoyment of their property does not render nuisance claim insufficient, but motion to strike nuisance claim properly granted because plaintiffs could not have alleged facts sufficient to establish town created or participated in creating alleged nuisance or had duty to warn of risks. 307 C. 364. Subdiv. (1): Pertains only to municipal roads and bridges and not to state roads and bridges; town may be liable for nuisance on state highway if nuisance was created by the town; legislature sought to ensure that a person who sustains injuries or property damage as a result of a nuisance created by a municipality may recover against the municipality either by way of an action sounding in nuisance or, if the nuisance was created on a road or bridge that the municipality was legally responsible for maintaining, under Sec. 13a-149. Id., 620. Specially chartered municipal corporation water supply company liable for negligent conduct when bicyclist rode her bike into gate on company property; gate was maintained in an unsafe and dangerous condition and maintenance of gate was inextricably linked to proprietary function of operating the company. 309 Conn. 282. Subdiv. (2): Town not liable under identifiable person/imminent harm exception for injuries sustained by passenger in vehicle pursued by volunteer firefighter while firefighter was on telephone call with town's 911 dispatcher where it was not apparent to dispatcher that firefighter was pursuing vehicle at excessive rate of speed and improperly using blue courtesy lights that were similar to police lights, and that dispatcher's response or lack thereof likely would have subjected the passenger to imminent harm. 311 C. 217. Police officers' duty to remain at the scene of a domestic violence incident was discretionary and not ministerial, therefore defendant municipality is entitled to governmental immunity. 312 Conn. 150. Under identifiable person-imminent harm exception to governmental immunity, the standard to determine whether harm was imminent is whether it was apparent to municipal defendant that the dangerous condition was so likely to cause harm that defendant had a clear and unequivocal duty to act immediately to prevent harm. 314 C. 303. Municipal immunity was not abrogated under Subdiv. (1)(B) by proprietary function exception because defendant's operation of pool was for general public purpose, did not result in excess revenues and was used by private company only for short periods of time without any formal lease or contract, and was not abrogated under Subdiv. (1)(A) by application of the identifiable person, imminent harm exception because plaintiff was not compelled to attend aqua therapy sessions offered by private company at defendant's pool, and therefore was not an identifiable person. 326 C. 420. Cited. 39 CA 289. Language of section is clear and unambiguous in abrogating governmental immunity that common law gives to municipalities with respect to vicarious liability; parties need not comply with filing requirements ofSec. 7-465 in order to utilize this section, rather parties can bring a direct cause of action for negligence against amunicipality under its provisions. 66 CA 669. Although trial court improperly analyzed plaintiff's claims under Subsec., which concerns claims brought directly against a municipality, rather than under applicable municipal indemnification statute, Sec. 7-465, which provides that qualified municipal immunity does not apply to claims for indemnification for acts by municipal employees unless the acts are willful or wanton, she could not prevail on claim that trial court improperly granted motion for a directed verdict because there is no recognized right to a claim for emotional distress resulting to a person from loss of a pet. 84 CA 395. Trial court properly struck plaintiffs' negligence claim where plaintiffs claimed that city's negligence in failing to ensure security of the building after city had taken the property by eminent domain resulted in plaintiffs property being stolen and destroyed; pursuant to Subdiv. (2)(B) city cannot be held liable for the actions of its employees pertaining to security of the property. 88 CA 1. Because municipal status of city of New Haven was undisputed, the protection afforded under Subdiv. (2)(A) granted municipal immunity from liability for intentional tort committed by plaintiff's coemployee who was a city employee. 92 CA 558. Subdiv. (2)(A): A municipality may not be held liable for the intentional acts of its employees including the intentional infliction of emotional distress. 108 CA 710. When a law enforcement officer has been ordered by the court to vacate an arrest warrant, this is a mandatory duty; failure to do so may not be excused by governmental immunity. 110 CA 389. Section codifies the common law doctrine of qualified immunity; defendants, a municipality and police officers employed by the municipality, were entitled to qualified immunity in the performance of discretionary duties relating to the monitoring of an individual who committed suicide while being held in police department lock-up area. 120 CA 282. Decedent's estate could not prevail against police officers because of doctrine of governmental immunity since complaint did not demonstrate that decedent was an identifiable and foreseeable victim subject to imminent harm. Id., 806. Subdiv. (2)(B): Trial court's conclusion that statutes, regulations and policies are most often held to create discretionary duties was overreaching; because standards exist for town firefighters to secure traffic accident scene in prescribed manner without the exercise of judgment or discretion, plaintiff's negligence action against town arose out of violations of ministerial rather than discretionary duties, and trial court improperly granted town's motion to strike on grounds of governmental immunity. 127 CA 254; judgment affirmed, see 307 C. 620. Subdiv. (2)(A): Neither the distinction between ministerial and discretionary acts nor the exceptions to discretionary act immunity factor into an analysis of governmental immunity when an intentional cause of action is alleged; the term "wilful" is synonymous with "intentional"; provision makes no distinction between ministerial and discretionary acts. 133 CA 215. City was immune from indemnity claim re fatal shooting at carnival because language in Sec. 7-284 concerning police protection at places of amusement describes a discretionary function, not a ministerial duty, and billing of operator for such police protection did not convert governmental function of providing security into a proprietary function. 138 CA 40. Subdiv. (1)(A): Police action was discretionary re homicide victim killed by domestic violence perpetrator while in the household of a person who was protected by an order of protection because the victim was not the person protected by the order of protection and law enforcement directives adopted under Sec. 46b-38b re domestic violence victims did not impose a duty re victim. 140 CA 315; judgment affirmed, see 312 Conn. 150. Police officer's decisions whether or not to enforce certain statutes and to take other actions in securing traffic accident scene requires exercise of judgment and discretion and, therefore, entitles officer to governmental immunity. 142 CA 113. Subdiv. (1)(C): A public nuisance claim may not be brought independently of Sec. 13a-149 when plaintiff's claim for damages against a municipality resulted from an injury sustained by means of a defective municipal road. 150 CA 805. Subdiv. (2)(B): School superintendent's manner of communicating plaintiff's termination was a discretionary act to which municipal immunity attached. 158 CA 872. Subdiv. (2)(B): Police dispatcher's statement to caller that police officer would respond shortly did not create a ministerial duty for which governmental immunity is abrogated under Subdiv. (1), and plaintiff did not present any other evidence that police response to a call is a ministerial rather than discretionary act or that plaintiff was an identifiable victim subjecting defendants to identifiable person-imminent harm exception. 163 CA 847. To the extent that the phrase "wear shin guards for additional protection" is ambiguous, and thus susceptible to different meanings, that fact alone supports a determination that the language in the school's physical education guideline was not intended to create a ministerial duty that would be a clear and unequivocal waiver of governmental immunity under Subdiv. (2). 175 Conn.App. 613. Cited. 41 Conn.Supp. 402. Governmental immunity inapplicable in case in which plaintiff was involved in assisting police when she was bitten by police dog. 46 CS 197. Subsec. (b): Cited. 226 C. 314. Subdiv. (6): Provision does not establish a sole proximate causation standard or some other heightened causation standard; codifies common law that municipal defendants are not liable for acts of nonemployees or nonagents of the municipality. 245 Conn. 385. Subdiv. (8): Subdiv. abrogates traditional common-law doctrine of municipal immunity, now codified by statute, in the two enumerated circumstances following the word "unless". 307 Conn. 364. Subdiv. (8): "Possible impact" standard for reckless disregard adopted by Appellate Court, requiring defendant merely disregard a possible impact on public or individual health or safety, would effectively eliminate distinction between negligence and recklessness - no indication legislature intended to adopt lower standard for recklessness in context of municipal inspections; municipal actor may demonstrate reckless disregard for health or safety when it is clear that the failure to inspect may result in a catastrophic harm, albeit not a likely one. 327 C. 338. Subdiv. (8): A failure to inspect that constitutes a reckless disregard for health or safety under Subdiv. is one in which an individual is aware of the duty to inspect, recognizes the possible impact on public or individual health or safety, and makes the conscious decision not to perform that duty. 159 CA 679; judgment affirmed on alternate grounds, see 327 Conn. 338. Subdiv. (7): Section does not offer municipal immunity for allegedly unconstitutional taking through inverse condemnation. 51 CS 636. Subsec. (c): Subsec. does not authorize a private cause of action against zoning board of appeals as a whole but refers to the personal liability of an individual board member; since plaintiff directs his allegations against the board as an entity and not to any of its members individually, he fails to state a claim under Subsec. that would subvert governmental immunity. 160 CA 1. Section affords qualified immunity, rather than absolute immunity, because it expressly excepts from its purview any conduct that is not undertaken in good faith, that is in violation of any state, municipal or professional code of ethics, or that is reckless, wilful or wanton. 166 CA 685.