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Rodriguez v. Clark

Appellate Court of Connecticut

February 2, 2016

ALEX RODRIGUEZ ET AL.
v.
DOUGLAS CLARK

         Argued December 8, 2015

          Action to recover damages for personal injuries, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Waterbury, where the court, Shapiro, J., granted the defendant's motion to strike; thereafter, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion for judgment and rendered judgment for the defendant, from which the plaintiffs appealed to this court.

          Affirmed.

          SYLLABUS

         The plaintiffs, R, a retired police officer, and his wife, sought to recover damages from the defendant police officer, whose police K-9 dog had bitten R while he was still employed as a police officer. The incident occurred when the defendant and the K-9 had arrived in the defendant's police cruiser at the scene of an altercation to assist R in subduing and arresting individuals who had been involved in the altercation. R claimed, inter alia, that the defendant's conduct constituted negligent operation of a motor vehicle within the statutory (§ 31-293a) exception to the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act (§ 31-275 et seq.). The trial court granted the defendant's motion to strike the entire complaint and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiffs appealed to this court. The plaintiffs claimed that the court improperly struck the complaint when it concluded that their causes of action were barred by § 31-293a. Held that the trial court properly granted the defendant's motion to strike, and that court having thoroughly addressed the arguments raised in this appeal, this court adopted the trial court's well reasoned memorandum of decision as a proper statement of the relevant facts and the applicable law on the issues.

         John Del Buono, with whom was Donald McPartland, for the appellants (plaintiffs).

         Michael F. O'Connor, for the appellee (defendant).

         Alvord, Keller and Schaller, Js.

          OPINION

          [162 Conn.App. 786] PER CURIAM.

          The plaintiffs, Alex Rodriguez and his wife, Rachel Rodriguez, appeal from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant, Douglas Clark, after the court struck the plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety. The plaintiffs claim that the court improperly concluded that their causes of action were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act (act), General Statutes § 31-275 et seq. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The relevant procedural facts may be summarized as follows. In July, 2013, the plaintiffs commenced this action against the defendant by means of a four count complaint. The plaintiffs alleged that, on July 13, 2011, the plaintiff[1] and the defendant were Middletown police officers who at all times relevant were engaged in their official police duties in Middletown. The plaintiff was in the process of subduing and arresting individuals who were involved in an altercation, at which time the defendant arrived upon the scene to aid his fellow officers. The defendant drove to the scene in a marked police cruiser accompanied by Niko, a trained police K-9 dog that was kept and/or owned by him. The defendant parked his cruiser at the scene, leaving the key in the ignition with the motor running. After the defendant had exited the cruiser and was providing assistance to his fellow officers at the scene, Niko exited the back of the cruiser by means of an open window, attacked and " nipped" a third police officer, and " attacked and bit" the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that he incurred a variety of physical injuries that, among other things, have detrimentally affected his mobility and his quality of life, and have caused him to retire from a career as a police officer.

         In count one, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in several ways for failing to restrain and [162 Conn.App. 787] control Niko at the scene of the altercation. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant's conduct constituted negligent operation of a motor vehicle under General Statutes § 31-293a.[2] In count two, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was liable for his damages under the dog bite statute, General Statutes § 22-357. In counts three and four of the complaint, Rachel Rodriguez brought corresponding derivative claims for loss of consortium.

         On October 9, 2013, the defendant filed a motion to strike all four grounds of the complaint on the ground that all four counts were barred by the exclusivity provision of the act.[3] The plaintiffs objected to the motion. Subsequently, the court held a hearing on the motion to strike. On June 10, 2014, the court issued a memorandum of decision in which it concluded that the plaintiffs' claims were barred by the exclusivity provisions of the act.[4] On July 7, 2014, the court rendered judgment in [162 Conn.App. 788] favor of the defendant on the stricken complaint. This appeal followed.

         We carefully have considered the record, the briefs submitted by the parties, as well as the arguments of the parties advanced at the time of oral argument before this court. We have reviewed the court's memorandum of decision in accordance with the plenary standard of review that applies to the legal determinations of the trial court in granting a motion to strike one or more counts of a complaint. See, e.g., Kortner v. Martise, 312 Conn. 1, 48-49, 91 A.3d 412 (2014). Our examination of the record and the arguments of the parties persuades us that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. Because the trial court's memorandum of decision fully addresses the arguments raised in the present appeal, we adopt its concise and well reasoned decision as a proper statement of the relevant facts and the applicable law concerning the issues raised by the plaintiffs. See Rodriguez v. Clark, 162 Conn.App. __, __ A.3d ...


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