November 13, 2017
from a decision issued by the Department of Public Health,
brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of
Middlesex, where the court, Vitale, J., granted the
defendant's motion to dismiss and rendered judgment
dismissing the appeal, from which the plaintiff appealed to
this court. Affirmed.
Berka, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).
Smith, for the appellee (defendant).
Lavine, Sheldon and Harper, Js.
principal issue in this appeal is whether the trial court
properly dismissed the self-represented plaintiff's
administrative appeal on the ground that it lacked subject
matter jurisdiction due to the plaintiff's failure to
name the state of Connecticut Department of Public Health
(department) as a party in his administrative citation. On
appeal, the self-represented plaintiff, George Berka, claims
first that the department acted improperly by not informing
him that it needed to be named as a party and, second, that
the trial court's dismissal of his appeal deprived him of
due process. We disagree with the trial court's
conclusion that the plaintiff's failure to name
the department deprived it of subject matter jurisdiction. We
conclude, however, that the trial court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction due to the plaintiff's failure to
serve his administrative appeal on the department.
Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial
record reveals the following facts and procedural history
that are relevant. This appeal stems from two municipal
health orders-one dated October 30, 2014, and the other dated
November 21, 2014-issued by the defendant, the city of
Middletown, acting through its municipal department of public
health, regarding violations of various statutes and city
ordinances at the plaintiff's property. The plaintiff
challenged the orders by filing an appeal with the
department. See General Statutes § 19a-229. A
consolidated administrative appeal hearing relating to both
orders took place on February 20, 2015.
department issued a final memorandum of decision finding in
favor of the defendant on January 26, 2016. See General
Statutes §§ 4-179 and 4-180. The plaintiff
subsequently appealed from that decision to the Superior
Court. In his administrative citation, the plaintiff
indicated that there was only one defendant and named the
‘‘city of Middletown'' as that
defendant.The state marshal's return of service
indicated that, on February 4, 2016, he served only the
‘‘city of Middletown.''
26, 2016, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the
plaintiff's administrative appeal due, in part, to the
plaintiff's failure to name the department as a party.
The plaintiff filed his opposition on May 27, 2016, noting
that ‘‘the department of public health shall be
added as a party to this action, as requested.'' He
then filed a motion to cite in the department as a party to
his administrative appeal in the Superior Court on June 24,
2016, which the defendant opposed.
July 15, 2016 memorandum of decision, the court concluded
that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction solely due to the
plaintiff's failure to name the department as a party
and, therefore, granted the defendant's motion to
dismiss. The court also noted that it was required to rule on
the jurisdictional issue raised by the defendant's motion
to dismiss before allowing the plaintiff to amend his
complaint. The plaintiff now appeals. Additional facts will
be set forth as necessary.
an appeal from the granting of a motion to dismiss on the
ground of subject matter jurisdiction, this court's
review is plenary. A determination regarding a trial
court's subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law.
When . . . the trial court draws conclusions of law, our
review is plenary and we must decide whether its conclusions
are legally and logically correct and find support in the
facts that appear in the record. . . . It is a familiar
principle that a court which exercises a limited and
statutory jurisdiction is without jurisdiction to act unless
it does so under the precise circumstances and in the manner
particularly prescribed by the enabling
legislation.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation
marks omitted.) Searles v. Dept. of Social Services,
96 Conn.App. 511, 513, 900 A.2d 598 (2006); see also
Kindl v. Dept. of Social Services, 69 Conn.App. 563,
566, 795 A.2d 622 (2002) (plenary review applies to
court's construction of statute). ‘‘[W]e are
mindful of the well established notion that, in determining
whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction, every
presumption favoring jurisdiction should be
indulged.'' (Footnote omitted; internal quotation
marks omitted.) Cuozzo v. Orange, 315 Conn. 606,
614, 109 A.3d 903 (2015).
acknowledge that the plaintiff is a self-represented
litigant. ‘‘[I]t is the established policy of the
Connecticut courts to be solicitous of [self-represented]
litigants and when it does not interfere with the rights of
other parties to construe the rules of practice liberally in
favor of the [self-represented] party . . . we are also aware
that [a]lthough we allow [self-represented] litigants some
latitude, the right of self-representation provides no
attendant license not to comply with relevant rules ...