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Daley v. Kashmanian

Appellate Court of Connecticut

October 1, 2019

Devonte DALEY
v.
Zachary KASHMANIAN et al.

         Argued May 13, 2019

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, 2018 WL 1386155, Jane S. Scholl, J.

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          Martin McQuillan, New Britain, for the appellant (plaintiff).

         William J. Melley, Hartford, for the appellee (named defendant).

         Nathalie Feola-Guerrieri, Stratford, for the appellee (defendant city of Hartford).

         James J. Healy and Karen K. Clark, Hartford, filed a brief for the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association as amicus curiae.

         Keller, Bright and Harper, Js.

          OPINION

         BRIGHT, J.

         [193 Conn.App. 173] This appeal stems from a personal injury action brought by the plaintiff, Devonte Daley, against the defendants, Zachary Kashmanian and the city of Hartford (city), seeking damages for the injuries he sustained when Kashmanian, a detective with the Hartford Police Department who had been surveilling the plaintiff in an unmarked police car, allegedly, negligently and recklessly caused the plaintiff to be ejected from his motorcycle. The plaintiff appeals, following a jury trial, from the judgment of the trial court directing a verdict in favor of Kashmanian on the plaintiff’s recklessness claim, and from the judgment of the trial court setting aside the jury’s verdict on the plaintiff’s negligence claim. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) directed a verdict because there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Kashmanian engaged in reckless conduct, and (2) set aside the verdict with respect to the negligence claim on the ground that the defendants were entitled to governmental immunity because Kashmanian was engaged in ministerial, not discretionary, conduct. We agree with the plaintiff’s first claim only, and, accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court directing a verdict on the recklessness claim and affirm the judgment of the trial court setting aside the verdict on the negligence claim.

          The relevant facts, viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, and procedural history, are as follows. On June 1, 2013, at approximately 12 a.m., the plaintiff was riding his yellow Suzuki motorcycle on Asylum [193 Conn.App. 174] Avenue in Hartford with a group of eight to ten other people who were riding "dirt bikes" and "quads." The plaintiff’s motorcycle was neither "street legal" nor "roadworthy" because it did not have headlights and was equipped with off-road tires: a black tire on the front and a yellow tire on the back. Also at that time, Kashmanian was operating an unmarked gray Acura TL, which the police characterize as a "soft car." A soft car is a vehicle that is not equipped with flashing or revolving

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lights, sirens, or police markings so that it is indiscernible from ordinary civilian cars.

         At or around that same time, a confidential informant provided an anonymous tip to the police that a man riding a yellow motorcycle with a yellow tire had a gun. Kashmanian was instructed by other officers to perform surveillance[1] on the group of motorcycles and quads, including the yellow motorcycle, which was operated by the plaintiff. When Kashmanian arrived at Asylum Avenue, he observed the yellow motorcycle and the group of motorcycles and quads, and proceeded to follow them westbound on Asylum Avenue. All of the motorcycles and quads then turned right and proceeded northbound on Sumner Street, which is a two lane road with a speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour. At the intersection of Asylum and Sumner, Kashmanian’s vehicle "sideswip[ed]" another motor vehicle driven by Brontain Stringer, which had been proceeding in ...


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