CHRISTIAN PEREZ ET AL.
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT ET AL.
February 13, 2018
seeking to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by
the named plaintiff as a result of the defendants'
alleged negligence, and for other relief, brought to the
Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, where
the court, Bellis, J., dismissed the action as to
the plaintiff Kleber O. Perez; thereafter, the court,
Arnold, J., dismissed the action as to the named
defendant; subsequently, the court, Hon. George N.
Thim, judge trial referee, granted the state's
motion to strike the action from the jury list; thereafter,
the matter was tried to the court, Hon. Edward F.
Stodolink, judge trial referee; judgment for the state,
from which the named plaintiff appealed to this court.
Samowitz, for the appellant (named plaintiff).
Michael McKenna, assistant attorney general, with whom, on
the brief, was George Jepsen, attorney general, for the
DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Prescott, Js.
issue in this appeal is whether the plaintiff Christian
Perez has the right to a jury trial in a
negligence action for monetary damages against the defendant,
the state of Connecticut. The plaintiff was authorized to bring
his action against the state by the General Assembly pursuant
to General Statutes § 4-159 (b) (1) (B) (ii). Following
a trial to the court, judgment was rendered in favor of the
state. The plaintiff now appeals from the judgment, claiming
that the court improperly granted the state's motion to
strike his action from the jury list. We affirm the judgment of
following facts and procedural history are relevant to the
resolution of this appeal. On July 15, 2009, the plaintiff
filed a claim with the Office of the Claims Commissioner
against the state. The claim related to an incident that
occurred on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs on
February 22, 2009. On that day, the plaintiff, then a
full-time student at the University of Connecticut, fell on
ice and injured his knee in a parking lot reserved for media
vehicles near Gample Pavilion.
22, 2012, the claims commissioner held a formal hearing on
the plaintiff's claim. The claims commissioner
subsequently denied the plaintiff's claim against the
state on October 26, 2012. Pursuant to General Statutes
§ 4-158 (b), the plaintiff requested review by the
General Assembly of the claims commissioner's denial of
his claim. On May 20, 2013, the General Assembly
reviewed the plaintiff's claim, vacated the claims
commissioner's denial, and adopted a resolution
authorizing the plaintiff to ‘‘institute and
prosecute to final judgment an action against the state to
recover damages as compensation for injury to [his]
person'' pursuant to § 4-159 (b) (1) (B)
February 20, 2014, the plaintiff filed an action against both
the University of Connecticut and the state of Connecticut in
the judicial district of Fairfield seeking monetary damages.
The plaintiff's action against the University of
Connecticut subsequently was dismissed.On February 10,
2015, the plaintiff filed a revised complaint against the
remaining defendant, the state. Count one of the revised
complaint alleged that the state had acted negligently in
failing to properly clear the snow and ice in the parking lot
in which the plaintiff fell. Count two alleged that the state
had acted with reckless disregard for the safety and welfare
of University of Connecticut students.
response to the plaintiff's revised complaint, the state
denied that it had acted negligently or recklessly with
respect to the conditions in the parking lot on the day the
plaintiff was injured. The state also alleged as a special
defense that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in
causing his injuries.
2, 2015, the plaintiff claimed the action to the jury trial
list. On July 6, 2015, the state filed a motion to strike the
plaintiff's action from the jury list. In its
accompanying memorandum, the state argued that the plaintiff
had no right to a jury trial in an action against the state
where sovereign immunity had been waived pursuant to §
4-159 because General Statutes § 4-160 (f) expressly
provides that ‘‘[i]ssues arising in such actions
shall be tried to the court without a jury.''
response to the state's motion to strike the
plaintiff's action from the jury list, the plaintiff
argued that the ‘‘actions'' referenced in
§ 4-160 (f) did not include an action authorized by the
General Assembly pursuant to § 4-159. The plaintiff
further argued that § 4-159 (c) granted him the right to
a jury trial. That subsection provides: ‘‘The
General Assembly may grant the claimant permission to sue the
state under the provisions of this section when the General
Assembly deems it just and equitable and believes the claim
to present an issue of law or fact under which the state,
were it a private person, could be liable.''
(Emphasis added.) General Statutes § 4-159 (c).
the plaintiff argued that if his action were brought against
a private person, he would undeniably have a right to a jury
trial and, thus, he has a right to a jury trial against the
state because it must be treated as if it were a private
person. The plaintiff further argued that §§ 4-160
(f) and 4-159 (c) must be construed in this manner because a
contrary construction ...