A Look at the Connecticut Supreme Court’s Upcoming First Term
The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear cases from September 8 – 18 of 2020, which will kick off the Supreme Court’s First Term for the 2020-2021 year. The attorneys at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. continuously monitor the Supreme Court docket and have identified four cases of particular interest in the First Term.
CITY OF MERIDEN et al. v. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMISSION et al., SC 20378
This case involved a gathering between four political leaders of the Meriden City Council in which they discussed hiring a new City Manager. This gathering was allegedly conducted outside the open meeting requirements required under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). At a later City Council meeting, the City Council adopted a resolution appointing members to a search committee and recommending certain candidates.
The Meriden Record Journal petitioned the Freedom of Information Commission (“Commission”) and alleged that the gathering had not been conducted in compliance with the open meeting requirements of FOIA, specifically General Statutes § 1-225, and therefore the gathering was in fact a “proceeding” under the statutes. The Commission agreed with the Record Journal and determined that the gathering violated the statute because it failed to give prior public notice.
The City appealed to the Superior Court. The Superior Court rejected the appeal and the City appealed to the Appellate Court. The Appellate Court reversed the Superior Court. The Appellate Court held that the gathering did not constitute a “meeting” because there was no quorum and no adjudicatory activities were involved in the gathering.
The Supreme Court granted the Commission’s appeal. The Supreme Court will decide whether the gathering of four City leaders constituted a “proceeding” under FOIA.
NOT ANOTHER POWER PLANT v. CONNECTICUT
SITING COUNCIL et al., SC 20464
In this case, the defendant NTE Connecticut, LLC (“NTE”) sought a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need from the Connecticut Siting Council for a proposed electric generation facility in Killingly. In order for the facility to function, however, the facility required an upgraded natural gas pipeline to supply fuel to the facility. The Siting Council allegedly failed to contemplate the impact of the upgraded pipeline before issuing the certificate.
The plaintiff, a non-profit association, appealed to the Superior Court. The Superior Court reasoned that it was not improper to “segment” the consideration of the pipeline and the facility because Eversource, the pipeline owner, would have to apply for its own certificate to upgrade the pipeline. The plaintiff disputes this reasoning because Eversource is allegedly entitled to petition the Siting Council to declare that no adverse environmental impact will occur, thus blunting the regulatory safeguard.
WILTON CAMPUS 1691, LLC v. TOWN OF WILTON
WILTON RIVER PARK 1688, LLC v. TOWN OF WILTON
WILTON RIVER PARK NORTH, LLC v. TOWN OF WILTON, SC 20388
These cases are tax appeals for each property of the plaintiffs, the property owners, who were required by statute to submit income and expense information to the Town of Wilton tax assessor by June 1, 2014. The tax assessor received the information two days late and assessed a 10% penalty tax pursuant to General Statutes § 12-63c(d). The tax assessor assessed the penalty after he signed the Grand List, but claimed that this was permissible pursuant to the ability to correct a mistake or clerical error following the assessment under General Statutes § 12-60.
The property owners filed tax appeals that were consolidated in Superior Court. The Superior Court held that – although the penalties remained in force – the tax assessor could not rely on General Statutes § 12-60 because the “mistake” was in fact intentional (the tax assessor had a past practice of issuing the penalties after the Grand List was signed). The Superior Court ruled in favor of the Town. It also noted that the delay to assess the penalties meant that the property owners could have appealed at the time of the following Grand List.
The property owners appealed to the Appellate Court, which held that the penalties were invalid because they occurred after the tax assessor signed the Grand List, and General Statutes § 12-55(b) requires that any mistakes in assessment (including the penalties) be corrected prior to signing the Grand List. The Supreme Court will decide whether the tax assessor could assess penalties after signing the Grand List.
NANCY BURTON v. COMMISSIONER OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION et al.; NANCY BURTON v. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION et al., SC 20466
A plaintiff intervened in a water discharge permit proceeding before CT DEEP under the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act (“CEPA”). The plaintiff felt that this permit proceeding would not be enough to protect the “waters of the state”, so she commenced a direct action in Superior Court against CT DEEP and the permit applicant, the owner and operator of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford, Connecticut.
The cooling system at Millstone extracts water from Niantic Bay and discharges the water back into the Long Island Sound after it serves it purpose. The plaintiff claims that the “once through” cooling method causes “unreasonable pollution” to the waters of the state under General Statutes § 22a-16.
The Superior Court consolidated the intervenor permit proceeding and direct action and ruled in favor of the defendants. On appeal, the plaintiff alleges that a “closed cooling” system would better protect the waters of the state because it is the “best technology available” consistent with § 316(b) of the Clean Water Act. The plaintiff also claims that the permit proceeding before CT DEEP was improper and that the hearing officer was biased in favor of the defendant.
For more information regarding the Connecticut Supreme Court’s upcoming term or any of the cases referenced above, please contact Attorney Richard Dighello at 860.548.2633 or email@example.com or Attorney Jeffrey Bausch at 203.786.8314 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional inquiries regarding Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C., please visit our website at https://www.uks.com/
Disclaimer: The information contained in this material is not intended to be considered legal advice and should not be acted upon as such. Because of the generality of this material, the information provided may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without legal advice based on the specific factual circumstances.