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State Bd. of Educ. v. City of Waterbury

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

March 20, 1990


Argued Jan. 2, 1990.

Page 149

Kenneth Kimerling, with whom were Philip D. Tegeler, and, on the brief, Martha Stone, Hartford, for appellants (Maloney School Parent Teachers Organization et al.).

Louise Allen Brown, with whom, on the brief, was John F. Phelan, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Waterbury, for appellees (named defendant et al.).

David S. Doyle, with whom, on the brief, was Robert J. Crean, for appellee (defendant Waterbury Bd. of Aldermen).


[21 Conn.App. 68] NORCOTT, Judge.

This is an appeal from the trial court's denial of the appellants' motion to intervene as plaintiffs in this case. The appellants are the Maloney School Parent Teachers Organization, an unincorporated association, and individual parents [1] in the Maloney School district in Waterbury. The appellants claim that the trial court erred in denying their motion to intervene as of right and, alternatively, for permissive intervention.

The appellants seek to intervene in a mandamus action brought by the original plaintiffs, the state board of education and the commissioner of the department of education, against the city of Waterbury, the mayor and the boards of aldermen and education. The underlying action arose from the plaintiffs' plan to desegregate the Maloney School, which was attended primarily by minority students and was found to be segregated within the meaning of General Statutes § 10-226b and § 10-226e-3 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, which is applicable to the state board of education. In November, 1984, the plaintiffs directed the city of Waterbury to submit a plan to desegregate the Maloney School.

In June, 1986, after many delays and extensions, the defendant city of Waterbury submitted a racial balance [21 Conn.App. 69] plan that called for the construction of a new school in the Maloney School district. Pursuant to this plan, the predominantly minority Maloney School and the predominantly nonminority Barnard School were to be closed, and the students from both schools were to be combined into the new school. The plaintiffs accepted the plan in October, 1986. Thereafter, the defendant board of aldermen declined to pass the bond issue necessary to purchase the site and to construct the new school. The plaintiffs, in response, finally brought the underlying mandamus action to compel the defendants to implement the approved plan and thereby to eliminate racial imbalance in Waterbury.

In May, 1988, the appellants moved to intervene as plaintiffs in the mandamus action. They attached to their motion a proposed complaint in which they sought a declaratory judgment, a temporary and permanent injunction and attorneys' fees. Their complaint also raised certain federal constitutional issues which were not a part of the plaintiffs' original complaint. [2] From the denial of their motion, the appellants

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appeal to this court. [3]

The appellants first contend that the trial court erroneously denied their motion to intervene because they should have been permitted to intervene as of right, and they cite General Statutes § 52-107 and Practice[21 Conn.App. 70] Book § 99 [4] as authority for this position. The defendants maintain that the appellants have no right to intervene because (1) they have no interest in the subject matter of the underlying litigation, (2) the appellants' ability to protect their children's rights will be unaffected by any decision in this lawsuit, and (3) the plaintiffs adequately represent the interests of the appellant intervenors. We disagree.

Our Supreme Court has already determined that Practice Book § 99 provides for intervention as of right in Connecticut practice. Horton v. Meskill, 187 Conn. 187, 191, 445 A.2d 579 (1982); see also Richard v. Stanadyne, Inc., 181 Conn. 321, 322 n. 1, 435 A.2d 352 (1980). In our review of this case, we first note that the trial court failed to address the issue of whether the appellants were entitled to intervention as a matter of right pursuant to General Statutes § 52-107 and Practice Book § 99. The appellants moved for an articulation of the trial court's general denial of their motion to intervene, requesting that the court articulate "whether the court denied the motion to intervene as of right." In its memorandum of decision, the trial court [21 Conn.App. 71] reasoned that (1) the decision to grant or deny a motion to intervene is discretionary, (2) intervention is not routinely granted in a mandamus action, (3) the attorney general, acting for the plaintiffs, represents "all citizens of the state" with respect to the appellants' state and federal constitutional claims, (4) the applicants were not a necessary party to the case, and (5) the appellants failed to notify the court that their interests were not adequately represented by the plaintiffs and that the complaint did not include all necessary parties to the litigation.

By regarding the appellants' motion purely as a discretionary matter and in concluding as it did, the court ignored the appellants' claim that they were entitled to intervention as a matter of right pursuant to Practice Book § 99 and General Statutes § 52-107. There is no merit to the defendants' contention that by denying the appellants' permissive intervention, the trial court implicitly also denied their intervention as of right because the standards of the former are less restrictive than the latter. While it may be true that permissive intervention is not "routinely granted" in mandamus actions; see Beccia v. Waterbury, 185 Conn. 445, 455, 441 A.2d 131 (1982); we are not persuaded that intervention as of right is improper in a mandamus action such as this one.

The holding in Horton v. Meskill, supra, has made clear the previously unclear standards for intervention as of right. "An applicant for intervention has a right to intervene under Practice Book § 99 where

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the applicant's interest is of such a direct and immediate character that the applicant ' "will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation and effect of the judgment." ' Bucky v. Zoning Board of Appeals, [33 Conn.Sup. 607, 608, 363 A.2d 1119 (1976) ]; DeFelice v. Federal Grain [21 Conn.App. 72] Corporation, [12 Conn.Sup. 199, 201 (1943) ]; see Smith v. Gale, 144 U.S. 509, 518, ...

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