Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Haven, New Haven
(with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and
Walsh): Wilson, Robin L., J.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION TO STRIKE
plaintiff, Keyaira Reddick (plaintiff) commenced this action
by way writ, summons and complaint against the defendants,
Andrew Guirguis, Amal Guirguis and Michelle Boykin
(defendants). The complaint is in three counts and alleges
the following. On March 28, 2014, the plaintiff was a
passenger in a motor vehicle being operated by the defendant
Michelle Boykin in a southerly direction on Route 15, near
the Exit 65 entrance ramp and the Exit 64 exit ramp, in
Wallingford, Connecticut. At the same time and place, the
defendant, Andrew Guirguis was operating a motor vehicle
owned by the defendant Amal Guirguis on the Exit 65 entrance
ramp to southbound Route 15. The defendant, Andrew Guirguis
was operating the vehicle owned by Amal Guirguis with the
express and/or implied permission of the defendant owner,
and/or the vehicle was being operated as a family car with
the defendant owner's permission or consent, pursuant to
Connecticut General Statutes § 52-182 and/or the common
vehicle in which the plaintiff was a passenger proceeded in a
southerly direction on Route 15, defendant Andrew Guirguis
collided with the plaintiff's vehicle, causing the
plaintiff to sustained injuries and losses. Count one alleges
negligence against defendant Andrew Guirguis in the operation
of the vehicle and alleges vicarious liability against
defendant Amal Guirguis as owner of the vehicle. Count two
alleges recklessness against defendant Andrew Guirguis under
the common law and pursuant to General Statutes §
14-295, and count three alleges negligence against Michelle
Boykin. The defendants have filed a motion to strike count
two of the complaint on grounds that there are no facts pled
to support the plaintiff's assertion of deliberate and/or
reckless conduct under the common law. The defendants filed a
memorandum of law in support of the motion. The plaintiff has
filed a memorandum in opposition to the motion and argues
that she has properly pled common law recklessness and
statutory recklessness. Oral argument on the motion was heard
on May 2, 2016.
Standard of Review
The purpose of a motion to strike is to contest . . . the
legal sufficiency of the allegations of any complaint . . .
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Fort Trumbull
Conservancy, LLC v. Alves, 262 Conn. 480, 498,
815 A.2d 1188 (2003). A motion to strike therefore "
requires no factual findings by the trial court."
American Progressive Life & Health Ins. Co. of New
York v. Better Benefits, LLC, 292 Conn. 111, 120, 971
A.2d 17 (2009). " It is fundamental that in determining
the sufficiency of a complaint challenged by a
defendant's motion to strike, all well-pleaded facts and
those facts necessarily implied from the allegations are
taken as admitted." (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
Violano v. Fernandez, 280 Conn. 310, 318,
907 A.2d 1188 (2006). " If any facts provable under the
express and implied allegations in the plaintiff's
complaint support a cause of action . . . the complaint is
not vulnerable to a motion to strike." Bouchard v.
People's Bank, 219 Conn. 465, 471, 594A.2d 1 (1991).
The court must " construe the complaint in the manner
most favorable to sustaining its legal sufficiency."
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) American Progressive
Life & Health Ins. Co. of New York v. Better
Benefits, LLC, supra, 292 Conn. at 120.
TWO: STATUTORY RECKLESSNESS
second count of the complaint, the plaintiff incorporates
paragraphs 1-8 of the first count, and alleges in paragraph 9
that, the defendant, Andrew Guirguis " made a conscious
choice to drive his vehicle onto the highway from a stopped
position, when he knew, or should have known, that attempting
to drive onto the highway, in such close proximity to
vehicles already on the highway and traveling past him, posed
a serious danger to others . . . As a result thereof,
defendant's conduct was reckless under the common law,
and/or defendant's conduct showed a reckless disregard of
the consequences and/or was so egregious so as to endanger
the safety of others, in violation of the common law and
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-222 . . . By the above acts,
plaintiff seeks exemplary or punitive damages, and/or double
or treble damages, pursuant to the common law and/or Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 14-295." The defendants argue that the
court should strike the second count because the plaintiff
has not alleged conduct that distinguishes their statutory
recklessness claim from their negligence claim. The plaintiff
argues in response, that she has alleged sufficient facts to
support her statutory claim for recklessness.
This court has previously addressed the standard for a
statutory recklessness claim in the context of a motion to
strike in Ferraiuolo v. Nicholson, Superior
Court, judicial district of New Haven, Docket No. CV 09
5031138 (December 7, 2009, Wilson, J.). This court wrote:
" [Section] 14-295 states explicitly that 'the trier
of fact may award double or treble damages if the injured
party has specifically pleaded that another party has
deliberately or with reckless disregard operated a motor
vehicle in violation of [ inter alia ] Section . . .
14-222 . . . and that such violation was a substantial factor
in causing such injury, death or damage to property . .
.' Neither the Connecticut Supreme Court nor the
Appellate Court has yet to address the pleading requirements
for recklessness under § 14-295. There has been a split
of authority in Superior Court decisions as to what degree of
specificity is required in pleading recklessness. See
Alibrandi v. Romero, Superior Court,
judicial district of Fairfield, Docket No. CV 08 5017380
(November 7, 2008, Bellis, J.). A slight majority of Superior
Court decisions have required that a plaintiff need only
plead the general allegations enumerated in § 14-295,
namely, that the defendant has deliberately or with reckless
disregard violated one of the enumerated statutes, and the
violation was a substantial factor in causing the
plaintiff's injuries. Id. " Ferraiuolo
v. Nicholson, Superior Court, judicial district
of New Haven, Docket No. CV 09 5031138 (December 7, 2009,
Wilson, J.). " The majority view is based both on an
analysis of the legislative history as well as a review of
the statutory language of § 14-295 itself. These cases
conclude that as long as the general requirements of the
statute are met, such pleading is enough to survive a motion
to strike and to state a cause of action under §
14-295." Aguirre v. Cammisa, Superior
Court, judicial district of New Haven, Docket No.
CV-14-6046086 (July 28, 2014, Wilson, J.).
Courts taking the majority view have emphasized the plain
meaning of § 14-295: 'There does not appear to be
any ambiguity in the language of [§ ]14-295 or how it
should be applied or construed. The statute says that in a
civil action seeking damages for personal injuries, the trier
of fact may award double or treble damages if the plaintiff
has specifically pleaded that another party has deliberately
or with reckless disregard operated a motor vehicle in
violation of . . . [one or more motor vehicle statutes
delineated in the statute]. If a further delineation of facts
forming the basis of the recklessness claim were necessary,
then such an explicit requirement could have been set out in
the statute by the legislature.' Lombard v.
Booth, Superior Court, judicial district of
Fairfield, Docket No. CV 01 0383637 (July 12, 2001, Stevens,
J.) (30 Conn. L. Rptr. 78). 'Where the language used by
the legislature is plain and unambiguous, there is no room
for construction by the courts and the statute will be
applied as its words direct.' Warkentin v.
Burns, 223 Conn. 14, 22, 610 A.2d 1287 (1992).
In contrast, a minority of courts have required that
plaintiffs plead the specific conduct that is reckless, above
and beyond what must be pleaded for mere negligence.
Alibrandi v.Romero, supra, Superior Court,
Docket No. CV 08 5017380. Courts following the minority view
have highlighted the substantive difference between
negligence and recklessness. 'Our Superior [C]ourts have
held that the reiteration of facts previously asserted to
support a cause of action in negligence, without more, cannot
be transformed into a claim of reckless misconduct [by mere]
nomenclature.' (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
Leigh v.Cook, Superior Court, judicial
district of New Haven, Docket No. CV 06 6000492, 2007 WL
1676743 (May 24, 2007, Holden, J.). 'To allow a plaintiff
to simply allege reckless disregard of a statutory provision
would enable any negligence claim to be brought as a
recklessness claim and thereby make it subject to double and
treble damages. The plaintiff would only have to plead that
in addition to the defendant's conduct being careless it
was also deliberate. This court does not believe it was the