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Marvin v. Board of Education of the Town of Colchester

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 9, 2019

MEGAN MARVIN
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE TOWN OF COLCHESTER

          Argued March 13, 2019

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for, inter alia, the defendant's alleged negligence, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London, where the court, Cole-Chu, J., granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          James V. Sabatini, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Gary Kaisen, for the appellee (defendant).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Alvord and Conway, Js.

          OPINION

          CONWAY, J.

         The plaintiff, Megan Marvin, through her mother and next friend, Carole Marvin, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant, the Board of Education of the Town of Colchester, on the basis of governmental immunity. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly rendered summary judgment because there remains a genuine issue of material fact with respect to (1) whether the defendant's inspection and maintenance of a locker room floor constitutes a ministerial duty for the purpose of governmental immunity, and (2) whether the plaintiff was an identifiable person subject to imminent harm, thus invoking the identifiable person, imminent harm exception to governmental immunity. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals the following facts and procedural history. The plaintiff was a student at Bacon Academy (school), the town of Colchester's public high school, where she played on the school's varsity softball team. On the evening of May 7, 2013, upon returning to the school from an away softball game, the plaintiff slipped and fell on a puddle of water in the women's locker room, causing her to sustain injuries to her left knee.

         On April 29, 2015, the plaintiff commenced the present action against the defendant. The complaint alleged, inter alia, [1] one count of negligence against the defendant pursuant to General Statutes § 52-557n (a) (1) (A).[2] The crux of the plaintiff's negligence claim was that the defendant, through its agents, failed to adequately maintain and inspect the locker room floor and failed to warn the plaintiff of the unsafe condition.

         The defendant filed an answer to the complaint on September 1, 2015, denying the negligence allegation and asserting as a special defense that the plaintiff's negligence claim was barred on the basis of governmental immunity pursuant to § 52-557n (a) (2) (B).[3]

         On January 25, 2017, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff's claim was barred by governmental immunity. In her objection to the motion, the plaintiff argued that there remained a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the inspection and maintenance of the locker room floor constituted a ministerial duty for the purpose of governmental immunity or, in the alternative, whether the plaintiff was an identifiable victim within the purview of the identifiable person, imminent harm exception to governmental immunity.

         In its memorandum of decision, the court concluded that the defendant had met its burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to both grounds argued by the plaintiff, and, accordingly, it granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the basis of governmental immunity. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

         We begin our analysis by setting forth the standard of review applicable to an appeal from a trial court's ruling on a motion for summary judgment. ‘‘Practice Book § [17-49] provides that summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, affidavits and any other proof submitted show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. . . . In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the trial court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. . . . The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of showing the absence of any genuine issue [of] material facts which, under applicable principles of substantive law, entitle him to a judgment as a matter of law . . . .'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) DeMiceli v.Cheshire, 162 Conn.App. 216, 221-22, 131 A.3d 771 (2016). ‘‘Once the moving party has met its burden [of production] . . . the opposing party must present evidence that demonstrates the existence of some disputed factual issue. . . . [I]t [is] incumbent [on] the party opposing summary judgment to establish a factual predicate from which it can be determined, as a matter of law, that a genuine issue of material fact exists. . . . The presence . . . of an alleged adverse claim is not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. . . . Our review of the decision to grant a motion ...


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