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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 9, 2019

MICHELLE WILLIAMS
v.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT

          Argued November 27, 2018

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for the defendant's alleged negligence, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the court, Elgo, J.; judgment for the defendant, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Austin Berescik-Johns, with whom was David V. DeRosa, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Edward P. Brady, withwhom, on the brief, was Catherine M. Blair, for the appellee (defendant).

          Prescott, Bright and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

          PRESCOTT, J.

         The plaintiff, Michelle Williams, appeals, following a bench trial, from the judgment rendered on her complaint in favor of the defendant, the State of Connecticut. In her one count complaint, the plaintiff sought monetary damages for personal injuries she had sustained as a result of the alleged negligence of an employee of the Department of Transportation (department) while operating a state owned vehicle. See General Statutes § 52-556.[1] On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court improperly (1) failed to consider all of the specifications of negligence that she alleged in her complaint and (2) failed to consider applicable statutes and highway safety regulations governing the actions of the department. We disagree with the plaintiff's first claim and conclude that the second claim was not preserved for appellate review. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court.

         The following facts found by the court and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of the plaintiff's appeal. ‘‘On January 24, 2012, around 10:40 a.m., the plaintiff was driving north on Route 15 near exit 38 [in Norwalk]. As she crested near the top of a hill, following one car length behind the vehicle ahead of her in the left lane, the vehicle before her swerved to avoid colliding with a [department] crash unit maintenance truck driven by [department employee Terrence] Lynch, which was . . . traveling slowly in the . . . left-hand lane. Lynch had been part of a crew of [department] workers who were performing pothole repair work on the highway and was the second of two crash units following the vehicle doing the actual repairs. John McNamara, a witness to the accident, was traveling southbound on the right-hand lane of Route 15 and ascending the crest from the other direction when he saw the collision. He observed [the] plaintiff's car swerve to avoid hitting Lynch's truck, then hit the guardrail and [become] airborne, spinning 180 degrees when it landed and struck Lynch's truck. Trooper Carlo Marandola arrived at the scene and noted damage to the respective vehicles as well as 170 feet of tire marks, which were made by the plaintiff's vehicle.''

         The plaintiff commenced the underlying negligence action on January 6, 2014. She alleged that she had sustained serious personal injuries, some permanent in nature, as a result of the January 24, 2012 incident, and that the direct and proximate cause of her injuries was the negligence and carelessness of Lynch, who was a state employee operating a motor vehicle owned and insured by the state. The plaintiff alleged that Lynch was negligent in one or more of the following ways:

‘‘a. he made unsafe movements upon the highway incidental to the operation of a state owned motor vehicle;
‘‘b. he caused [the] defendant's vehicle to obstruct moving traffic on the highway making it unsafe for other motorists;
‘‘c. he failed to follow established safety procedures and/or standards for diverting trafficon a highway while operating a state owned motor vehicle;
‘‘d. he failed to take reasonable efforts to warn motorists of the presence of [the] defendant's vehicle in the travel portion of the highway;
‘‘e. he was inattentive and failed to keep a proper lookout for other approaching motor ...

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