Haynes v. Middletown, 314 Conn. 303 (decided on November 4, 2014, and concerning the imminent harm standard in municipal liability cases), confirms two trends that have been apparent of late: (1) it is not a rare event for the Supreme Court to overrule a decision (in this case, Burns v. Board of Education, 228 Conn. 640, a 1994 decision holding an imminent harm can only happen in the immediate future); and (2) Justice Eveleigh is way to the left of the rest of the court in personal injury cases. He would have decided an unraised issue in the plaintiff’s favor: that the imminent harm did not have to be apparent to the municipality as long as it should have been.
So don’t be squeamish about arguing the Supreme Court was wrong in the past. And if you are the defendant in a tort case, look for your votes to justices other than Eveleigh.
Wesley W. Horton
November 10, 2014