Office of the Attorney General
At a Glance
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Attorney General
Established – 1897
Statutory authority – CGS Sections 3-124 to 3-131
Central office – 55 Elm Street,
Hartford, CT 06106
Average number of full-time employees – 344
Recurring General Fund operating expenses - $26.3million
Revenues generated - $260,341,136
Among the critical missions of this office are to represent and advocate the interest of the state and its citizens as
vigorously as possible, to ensure that state government acts within the letter and spirit of the law, that public resources
are protected for present and future generations, and that the quality of life of all our citizens is preserved and enhanced,
and that the rights of our most vulnerable citizens are safeguarded.
The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the state. The Attorney General's Office serves as legal counsel to all
state agencies. The Connecticut Constitution and Connecticut statutes authorize the Attorney General to represent the people
of the State of Connecticut to protect the public interest.
Revenue Achieved by the Office of the Attorney General
During the 2002-2003 fiscal year,
A. Revenue Generated for General Fund
Tobacco Settlement Fund Collections $ 134,686,539
State Child Support Collections 46,300,000
Tax Collection 19,236,430
Health Care Fraud Recovery 2,536,000
Penalties for Environmental Violations 4,126,731
Antitrust/Consumer Protection 2,378,147
Department of Social Services 1,501,095
Department of Administrative Services 5,438,365
Miscellaneous Collections 1,877,229
Total Revenue for State's General Fund $ 218,080,536
B. Revenue Generated for Special Funds
John Dempsey Hospital $ 162,333
Second Injury Fund 497,070
Workers’ Comp re State Employees 491,270
Unpaid Wage and Unemployment Tax 657,494
Total Revenue Generated for Special Funds $ 1,808,167
C. Revenue Awarded or Paid to Consumers
Antitrust/Consumer Restitution $ 5,068,571
Environmental Remediation 1,107,717
Charitable Trusts & Funds Recovered or
Preserved for Charitable Purposes 25,640,308
Restitution from Household Finance 6,296,060
Health Insurance Advocacy 2,339,777
Total Revenue Generated for Consumers $40,452,433
TOTAL REVENUE ACHIEVED $260,341,136
The Office of the Attorney General is divided into 14 departments, each designated to represent agencies which provide particular categories of service to State residents. The Attorney General also participates in the legislative process, maintains an active communication with citizens and investigates, in conjunction with the State Auditors, Whistleblower complaints. During fiscal year 2002-2003 the office generated in excess of $260 million in revenue for the general fund, special state funds and for consumers. The overall work completed by this office in fiscal year 2002-2003 is summarized as follows:
Court cases completed 21,913
Court cases pending 22,856
Legal documents examined 7,915
Administrative proceedings 3,712
Appeals completed 98
Appeals pending 194
Formal opinions issued 27
The Attorney General successfully advocated for legislation that prohibits smoking in most restaurants, bars and places of employment, extends the moratorium on projects that cross Long Island Sound, closes a loophole in the law requiring registration of sex offenders, requires mandatory drunk driving tests for those drivers involved in an accident resulting in a fatality or serious injury and prohibits young drivers from having more than one minor in their car for the first six months after obtaining a driver’s license. The Attorney General also continued to fight for lower prescription drug prices, consumer protection from disclosure of personal financial information and tougher child support laws.
This Department administers and enforces the Connecticut Antitrust Act, and has authority to enforce major provisions of the federal antitrust laws. Utilizing these statutes, we prosecute antitrust actions on behalf of consumers, businesses and governmental units.
The Attorney General has been very involved in attempting to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and filed a lawsuit against Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Andrx Corporation for conspiring to keep a generic version of the heart medication Cardizem CD off the market. Under the settlement, Aventis and Andrx will pay $80 million into a fund that will compensate consumers, state agencies and insurance companies that overpaid for Cardizem CD and its generic equivalent between 1998 and 2003. A $55 million settlement was also reached with Bristol-Myers Squibb, resolving an antitrust lawsuit regarding the drug Taxol®, an anti-cancer drug used in the treatment of ovarian, breast and other forms of cancer. The lawsuit claimed that Bristol-Myers Squibb excluded generic competition by securing patents through fraud and also by filing baseless lawsuits against generic manufacturers to keep generic forms of Taxol® off the market. The settlement will prevent Bristol-Myers Squibb from engaging in anti-competitive conduct in the future. The Antitrust Department is also part of a nationwide effort to contact consumers who took the anti-anxiety medication BuSpar® or a generic version during the last eight years. This undertaking is the result of an antitrust settlement reached with Bristol-Myers Squibb and two other pharmaceutical companies. The $100 million dollar settlement and accompanying claims program will help reimburse consumers and state agencies that were forced to pay inflated drug prices due to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s having misused patents to maintain drug monopolies.
An antitrust lawsuit filed by the Department alleging that five music distributors (Sony, Universal, BMG, EMI, and Warner Elecktra-Atlantic) and three large music retailers had entered into illegal conspiracies to raise the price of prerecorded music to consumers and reduce competition among music CD retailers, was settled this year with the defendants agreeing to pay approximately $143 million in cash and free music CDs for engaging in these sales practices.
During this fiscal year, the Attorney General and nine other attorneys general obtained a significant federal court judgment against the Microsoft Corporation following a lengthy trial. In addition to an injunction modifying Microsoft’s business practices, the company will pay $28.6 million to the states to cover costs and fees and for future enforcement and compliance.
As part of a multistate effort, the Antitrust Department filed a lawsuit which helped block a proposed merger between the only two nationwide direct broadcast satellite television providers, EchoStar Communications Corp. and Hughes Electronic Corp. The proposed merger would have eliminated consumer options in Direct Broadcast Service (DBS) in violation of the Clayton Act. Attorney General Blumenthal proposed legislation this year that would stop price gouging for retail milk. The Attorney General noted that while prices paid for milk to dairy farmers in New England had hit an all-time low, retail prices for milk had remained at historically high levels. The Department is also conducting an ongoing investigation of retail milk prices and is reviewing a potential merger between HP Hood and another large processor, National Dairy Holdings.
The Attorney General, along with Massachusetts, reached an agreement with Stericycle, Inc. of Lake Forest, Illinois to maintain competition in conjunction with the medical waste disposal company’s acquisition of two other medical waste disposal companies. A settlement was reached with Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and Anesthesia Associates of New London concerning a restrictive employment agreement that will now allow a key, local area, pain management physician to consult with patients and provide in-home care to those enrolled in the Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut program.
This year Attorney General Blumenthal, as a part of his competition advocacy program, filed extensive comments with the Federal Communications Commission strongly criticizing the relaxation of media multiple and cross-ownership rules which will severely reduce diversity in what the public sees, hears, and reads – with powerful, practical costs to our democracy.
The Attorney General, with the support of Governor John G. Rowland and state Comptroller Nancy Wyman, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Oracle, one of the top suppliers of financial, human resources, and related software for large businesses and government agencies, to block its hostile takeover bid for rival software company PeopleSoft, Inc. The lawsuit alleges that the acquisition would directly damage the state and its economy, and raise prices for businesses, governments and consumers by significantly reducing competition in the markets PeopleSoft serves, forcing current PeopleSoft customers to replace their software with other companies’ (namely Oracle’s) products.
This department with over 40 attorneys is dedicated to protecting the children of the State of Connecticut from abuse and neglect and has continued to successfully represent the Department of Children and Families in state and federal court litigation.
In re Clark K., the Court held that the pendency of criminal proceedings against a parent should not delay proceedings on TPR petitions before the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters. The Court rejected the argument that the Fifth Amendment prevents the parent from testifying in the TPR trial, noting that it is the parent’s choice whether to remain silent. In re Jeffrey C., the Supreme court found that under the circumstances of the case, the court orders were sufficiently clear that failure to comply could result in contempt. In re Salvatore P., the Appellate Court affirmed a TPR judgment finding that the record did not support the claim that a mother’s absence from the trial was the result of duress and that the mother had the burden of proving duress. In re Brea B., the Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s TPR judgment based on a finding of no ongoing parent-child; relationship. The trial court correctly gave no weight to the quality and nature of the relationship before the Appellant attacked the child; relationships at the time of filing the TPR petition are relevant. In re Jennifer W., the Appellate Court upheld a TPR judgment rejecting the claim that the trial court must as a matter of constitutional law hold a separate hearing on whether parental progress after filing the TPR petition is sufficient to defeat the petition. The court may, but is not obligated to, consider the parent’s progress in the adjudicatory phase when failure to rehabilitate is claimed. In re Shonna K., the Court found that it had jurisdiction over adults previously committed as minors to DCF, if such individuals remain under DCF’s supervision or care on a voluntary basis, notwithstanding reaching adulthood. In re Steven M, the Court held that § 17a-12(a) requires the trial court, in determining whether to transfer a dangerous juvenile committed to DCF as a delinquent to the custody of the Department of Correction, to consider, at a hearing, both the best interest of the individual and the danger posed by him to other juveniles. The juvenile’s liberty interest requires a hearing on this matter which meets the fundamental fairness requirement of due process.
A substantial part of our efforts this past year involved several significant court matters related to air quality. We continued to vigorously pursue critical litigation under the Clean Air Act against Midwest Power Companies because the pollutants they spew into the air, carried by the prevailing winds into Connecticut, ruin our environment. The first of these cases, the Ohio Edison Power Company case, was tried in Ohio and the court ruled in our favor on all counts. We are now entering the penalty phase of the lawsuit.
We filed, along with several other states, a court challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rollback of important and protective laws regarding air pollution—the New Source Review laws. EPA substantially weakened the protection of the Clean Air Act by changing regulations designed to require old facilities to install modern pollution controls when making major modifications to the facilities. Our suit seeks to stop the EPA from implementing these new rules.
We filed another suit against EPA for failing to regulate the pollutant most responsible for global warming—carbon dioxide. In spite of EPA’s own accepted scientific data that global warming is a real and serious threat, EPA has refused to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The lawsuit seeks to require EPA to regulate carbon dioxide by setting emission limits.
We continued our efforts to protect Long Island Sound against environmentally destructive intrusions. We successfully defended the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) against a mandamus action brought by the Cross-Sound Cable Company in which the plaintiff asked the court to order the DEP to allow it to operate its cable in violation of a legislative moratorium on the processing of applications. We represent the DEP in Islander East’s challenge to DEP’s denial of a Coastal Zone Management Act consistency determination.
We had several successful trials this year. We won a vital and hard-fought battle against Light Sources, Inc., affiliated companies, and a corporate officer. The defendants polluted important wetlands and watercourses with mercury from their light bulb manufacturing operations. The court awarded a million dollar penalty and required the defendant to spend hundreds of thousands more to clean up the contamination it caused. In a case against Cover-It, related companies and its president for numerous hazardous waste violations, the court awarded the state a $757,000 penalty. In another trial against General Heat Treat, Inc. for hazardous waste violations, we obtained a penalty of $50,000 and sweeping injunctive relief.
In continuation of our efforts to effectively use and preserve the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act, we filed suit against Goodspeed Airport, LLC and Timothy Mellon for clear-cutting a unique and important forest along the Connecticut River.
We continued our representation of state agencies in important administrative proceedings. In Rocque v. Olin Corp., we represented the DEP in a hearing proceeding against several parties responsible for widespread contamination of a school and neighboring community. We assisted in negotiating a resolution that will result in the neighborhood and school grounds being cleaned up.
We carried on our representation of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) in saving abused animals. In State v. Six Horses, we obtained a judgment from the court turning over custody and ownership of six mistreated horses to the state.
In addition to the enforcement of environmental laws, we forged ahead to successfully prosecute the seizure of vehicles used in violating environmental laws; to represent the state’s interest in litigation associated with the clean-up of superfund sites; to advocate for the DEP and DOA in bankruptcy proceedings where the state has a claim or an interest; and to defend these agencies and their staff in lawsuits filed against them. We continued to provide a full range of legal services to the DOA and the DEP including the review of contracts, and the provision of legal advice and counseling.
The Finance and Public Utilities Department provides legal services to state agencies which regulate insurance, banking, securities and public utilities, as well as the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Office of Policy and Management, the Bond Commission, and the Insurance Purchasing and Risk Management Board. Legal issues involving state regulation of the financial services industry including banking, insurance and securities form a major part of this Department's work.
One of the most oppressive forms of consumer abuse burgeoning on the horizon is abusive mortgage lending or “predatory lending” in which consumers are enticed into purchasing high-cost, high-fee home loans and often second mortgage loans which they cannot repay or refinance. In our continuing efforts to combat predatory lending, we actively pursue predatory lending complaints. We are also active participants on a NAAG predatory lending multi-state working group to target and prosecute predatory lenders nationwide. As part of the multi-state group, we investigated and pursued litigation against Household Finance. As a result of this action, Household agreed to pay $484,000,000 in restitution to consumers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Our state court granted a Consent Judgment against Household in the amount of $6,052,060 in restitution to Connecticut’s consumers. The Court also granted important injunctive relief relating to Household’s lending practices.
We provided legal support to our client agencies in many areas including market conduct examinations, insurance examinations, insolvencies, and regulation of producers. In addition, in our continuing efforts to protect consumers against identity theft, the Attorney General sent letters to all of the major insurance companies conducting business in Connecticut urging them to ban the use of social security numbers on member identification cards. The department has seen tremendous growth in telecommunications cases and its work for the Connecticut Siting Council ("CSC"). With over 300 competitors licensed to compete with SNET, we have recently experienced a dramatic increase in Federal District Court cases under the Federal Telecommunications Act. The CSC, for which this unit is statutory counsel, conducted some of the most controversial challenges in its 30-year history. In addition, we are involved in a number of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dockets involving market based pricing initiatives and expanded regional market pools as well as litigation involving the bankruptcy of NRG, a principal electric supplier to Connecticut.
In Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the State Comptroller and the State Employees Campaign Committee (“SECC”) did not violate the Scouts’ First Amendment rights of association when they excluded them from the State’s United Way Campaign because the Scouts discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
This Department provides legal services to the Department of Social Services Bureau of Child Support Enforcement and the Support Enforcement Services division of the Judicial Branch pursuant to a cooperative agreement designed to satisfy Connecticut’s responsibilities under the Child Support provisions of Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and related State laws.
The Child Support Department has traditionally experienced a significant litigation caseload. Fiscal 2002-2003 again brought significant activity in all operational categories. Professional and support staff handled more than 10,300 new referrals and closed out over 9,100 cases. There was considerable activity in the paternity area with 2,034 new filings, 2,025 closings and 1,356 determinations (judgments and voluntary acknowledgements). In addition, Department attorneys made more than 5,000 court appearances in interstate support matters brought pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
Department attorneys won several important judicial victories during the year which will assist in child support collections and continued to work closely with the Department of Social Services, Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, the Support Enforcement Services division of the Judicial Branch and court operations staff in the ongoing effort to ensure that mandatory federal performance standards are met. The Attorney General’s office is an active member of the Partners Executive Council and department staff continue to be involved in the development of new child support legislative initiatives designed to facilitate the establishment, enforcement and collection of child support orders. To that end, this department continues to work closely with other IV-D agencies in publishing wanted posters which identify some of Connecticut’s most seriously delinquent child support obligors, participates on the Advisory Council for Connecticut Fatherhood Initiative efforts and on the Child Support Guidelines Commission. Through the combined efforts of the participating IV-D agencies, child support collection reached $259.7 million in SFY 02/03.
The focus of this department is consumer protection through counsel and representation of the Department of Consumer Protection; consumer education and complaint mediation; investigations; written comment to state and federal agencies, and litigation under various state and federal laws, with a major reliance on the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).
Our Consumer Assistance Unit (CAU) responded to approximately 5,564 consumer complaints, many with the help of thirteen senior volunteers. Over $985,830.22 was refunded or credited to Connecticut consumers this fiscal year due to the efforts of CAU. Through its Senior Volunteer Advocates Program, this office presented Consumer Universities across the state about a variety of issues, including identity theft and Internet and telemarketing fraud.
The department continued to assist the Attorney General in providing alerts to consumers on a variety of topics. Consumer alerts this fiscal year included information about shopping wisely at Ames liquidation sales following its bankruptcy declaration, and a warning to consumers about a scam commonly known as “Nigerian letters,” in which con artists using the Internet or the U.S. Postal Service seek to obtain the bank account numbers of consumers and businesses by promising to transfer millions out of foreign countries and into the victims’ bank accounts.
One example of the enforcement activity the department engages in to assist the Attorney General on behalf of the State is a Stipulated Judgment the department obtained against the Ford Motor Company, as part of a settlement of the multistate investigation of Ford’s marketing and sale of sports utility vehicles (SUVs). The Connecticut judgment provides for a total payment to Connecticut of $919,770, as well as the funding of a $30 million national Public Service campaign to correct consumer misimpressions regarding the proper use and handling of SUVs.
The department facilitated judgments in a number of telecommunications matters addressing deceptive business practices by companies that sold or billed callers they kept on hold waiting for a “psychic”; or charged monthly rental fees for rotary phones that consumers either never possessed or had returned; or claimed to provide an “800 number” information service without disclosing that callers would be charged for the service; or failed to disclose material contract terms to consumers who purchased satellite programming and equipment, or overcharged consumers who used the widely advertised 10-10-220 “dial-around” number by failing to use the proper billing code.
The department settled litigation brought against Time, Inc., in the Attorney General’s continued efforts to force sweepstakes companies to be accountable in their promotional mailing practices. Time was ordered to pay restitution of $73,000 to 110 Connecticut consumers who suffered significant financial loss due to the misleading sweepstakes mailings. In addition, restitution of $793,000 was underway this fiscal year to 775 Connecticut customers of Publishers Clearing House (PCH) as part of the 2001 settlement of litigation brought by the Office and 25 other states to prevent PCH from issuing deceptive sweepstakes mailings.
The department currently is proceeding with litigation against SBC Communications, Inc., and several of its affiliates, including Southern New England Telecommunications Corp., for selling expensive ads for large countywide or regional telephone directories to businesses by falsely telling advertisers they were eliminating all smaller directories, and against Newtown Oil and its principals for entering into prepaid home heating oil contracts for the 2002-2003 heating season with hundreds of Connecticut consumers that they knew they could not fulfill. The department obtained over $100,000 in civil penalties in a Stipulated Judgment against Opticare for sending bills indicating consumers were obligated to pay for health and optical services for which their health carriers were responsible. The department succeeded in getting Exxon Mobil Corporation to implement major new policies to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors, a continuing concern of the Attorney General. The department obtained a Stipulated Judgment against Prudential Connecticut Real Estate (PCRE) with a $145,000 payment to the State for charging an alleged “Regulatory Compliance” fee of $150 on real estate transactions when, in fact, no regulation required such a fee.
Fraudulent billing practices of companies who do business on the Internet were addressed by the department. For example, the department, along with over a dozen other states and the FTC, filed suit against Alyon Technology, Inc. for billing consumers for connecting to adult Internet content who denied making the connection, never accepted the terms to connect, and never authorized anyone in their household to make such a connection. The office took other action, including reaching an agreement with DoubleClick, a leading Internet advertising company, to protect consumers’ online privacy after the company had been invisibly tracking nearly every online consumer without the consumer’s knowledge.
The department aided the Attorney General’s participation on behalf of the State before the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) and other state and federal agencies this fiscal year concerning issues relating to electricity. For example, the Attorney General appealed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of Standard Market Design (SMD) to the U.S. Court of Appeals to stop implementation of the rules. In another matter, the DPUC agreed with the Attorney General’s opposition to CL&P’s attempt to seek relief from the standard offer rate cap to pay their suppliers more, which would have resulted in a $218 million rate increase to consumers. On a related matter, the Attorney General successfully opposed the termination of NRG’s standard offer supply contract, and went to the FERC to require NRG to continue to provide power under the contract despite the company’s bankruptcy proceedings.
The Attorney General’s Office continues to maintain an active employment rights practice, defending state agencies in employment related litigation and providing advice and guidance to state agencies on employment issues. We are currently defending the state in approximately 170 employment cases in the federal and state courts, as well as a similar number of complaints before the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. We have successfully defended the state at trial in several cases, prevailed on motions in others, and achieved numerous settlements that were favorable to the state, saving the state millions of dollars. The office also represented the Department of Correction in a class action lawsuit that resulted in positive changes in the way that sexual harassment and retaliation complaints are investigated, prevented and disciplined.
A substantial portion of our work is in defense of the state in lawsuits brought by and on behalf of prisoners. We continue to defend a large number of lawsuits challenging conditions of confinement in state correctional facilities and the administration of community programs. These lawsuits collectively seek millions of dollars in money damages and seek to challenge and restrict the statutory authority and discretion of the Department of Correction. Our efforts in defense of these cases save the State of Connecticut millions of dollars in claimed damages, and preserve the state's authority in administering a growing prison population. In addition, this department has assisted in the collection of thousands of dollars in costs of incarceration.
In carrying out our duties to promote public safety, we defended several cases involving significant public safety issues during the past fiscal year. Doe v. Lee, argued personally by the Attorney General before the United States Supreme Court, upheld Connecticut’s Sex Offender Registration statutes allowing public access to information on sex offenders in Connecticut.
We continue to defend numerous challenges to the application of the "good time" statutes to multiple sentences. There are two significant cases pending in the Appellate Court which will determine how the Department of Correction calculates “jail credit” when there are multiple sentences. In addition, we are involved in a class action lawsuit challenging the Department of Correction's strip search policy.
We have pending before the Connecticut Supreme a case which will decide whether the Patients Bill of Rights applies to the Department of Correction. In addition, we are currently handling a number of wrongful death cases which will be impacted by a decision in the Patients Bill of Rights case.
We have taken over the responsibility for the defense and representation of almost all the lawsuits involving the State Police seeking money damages. Under this program, the state retains direct liability, indemnification and, through this office, defense responsibilities for the majority of cases filed. Our caseload of police litigation continues to grow, as expected, and the cost savings to the State of Connecticut continue to rise. In the past year, we successfully litigated a number of such cases and received favorable jury verdicts in several.
During the past year, we continued to provide legal advice and representation to the Division of Special Revenue regarding a variety of complex and significant issues related to legalized gambling, including gambling at the state's two casinos. We have written several significant advisory opinions concerning permissible activities under the Gaming Compacts with the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. During the past year, we have also provided the Liquor Control Division with advice on a number of legal issues concerning enforcement of the liquor law.
We are presently involved in a complex class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the policy of strip-searching youths detained in the juvenile detention facilities which could have a significant impact on the operations of the juvenile detention facilities. We are also involved in the Emily J. consent decree which affects the State’s juvenile detention centers.
This department provides representation for the following state agencies: Department of Transportation ("DOT"); Department of Public Works ("DPW"); Department of Administrative Services ("DAS"); Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV"); Department of Information Technology ("DOIT"); Department of Economic and Community Development, Housing Matters ("DECD"); and the Connecticut Historical Commission. In addition, this Department provides representation for various occupational licensing boards within the Department of Consumer Protection ("DCP").
As a result of the large number of public works projects undertaken by the State during any given year, and the broad scope and complexity of many of these projects, there is a continuing need for the attorneys to provide legal assistance to the DOT and DPW on public contracting issues, the resolution of bid protests, the interpretation of contract language, and other problems that eventually arise during the course of large construction projects. This department and DOT’s roads and bridges specifications committee have spent the last two years drafting and negotiating new construction claims specifications which will help the State negotiate construction claims brought by construction contractors against the DOT.
Despite the best efforts of all involved, some construction problems simply cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the parties and thus claims for money damages are made against the State. Our attorneys assist agency personnel with early analysis and settlement negotiations in an attempt to quickly resolve outstanding disputes and minimize the potential adverse financial impact of such claims on the public treasury. Nevertheless, a certain number of claims, both legal and monetary end up in court or arbitration. During the past fiscal year, the Department was successful in protecting the interests of the State and its taxpayers in several cases. For example, the field-testing of the leaks and anchor bolt problems at the University of Connecticut Law Library has just concluded and we anticipate that the State will be seeking compensation for damages against several of the entities that constructed the building. The Gold Star Bridge arbitration has been ongoing for nearly ten (10) years; we anticipate that that arbitration in the White Oak matter ($150 million) will go on for at least two (2) years.
Our DOT representation also covers all matters relating to eminent domain and rights-of-way issues; any issues as to properties and facilities including all I-95 and the Merritt Parkway facilities; aviation and ports; public transit; rails; and all environmental matters including permitting, salt sheds, and maintenance facilities located throughout the State. This past year we closed 70 eminent domain cases through settlement or trial while 69 new eminent domain cases arrived. A few of our eminent domain cases have involved the taking of property which has needed environmental remediation.
Our representation of DPW also consists of construction matters as well as handling a large amount of leasing, property management, and environmental challenges on siting issues such as the proposed construction of the Bridgeport Juvenile Correction Facility and the Litchfield Courthouse. During the past year, we provided legal counsel and review of 155 leases and other real estate transactions for DPW.
In addition to the noted construction contracting matters, this Department is deeply involved in various environmental matters associated with public works projects, roads and bridges projects, and other activities of our client agencies to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state environmental laws in the planning of projects and the operation of state facilities.
Currently our attorneys are working closely with DOT, DPW and DAS to help them meet their new responsibilities pursuant to Public Act 03-215 which requires that all bidders on Public and DOT building projects in excess of $500,000 be prequalified prior to bidding. The prequalification process goes into effect on July 1, 2004.
This department represents the Governor, the Judicial Branch, the General Assembly, the Secretary of the State, the Treasurer, the Comptroller, the Auditors, the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the State Ethics Commission, the State Properties Review Board, the Judicial Review Council, the Judicial Selection Commission, the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Handicapped and Developmentally Disabled Persons, the Accountancy Board, the Office of the Child Advocate, the Commission on Children, and the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission. In addition, through its Public Charities Unit, the department protects the public interest in gifts, bequests and devises for charitable purposes; and in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection, administers and enforces state laws regulating charities and professional fundraisers who solicit from the public.
In the area of charitable trusts and gifts, the department brought actions against several entities to ensure that charitable gifts were being used for the purposes for which they were given. In the area of charitable solicitations, the Public Charities Unit initiated and/or settled a number of significant cases involving misuse of funds solicited from the public. The Attorney General recently obtained court approval of a new healthcare foundation that will receive the charitable funds generated by the sale of Sharon Hospital to a for-profit company. The new charitable foundation will use the funds to provide healthcare services to the citizens of northwest Connecticut. The Attorney General also initiated a major lawsuit against Yale-New Haven Hospital to ensure that the hospital properly administers and distributes its “free bed funds,” charitable donations given to the hospital to fund free patient care for needy citizens.
The Unit continues to monitor solicitations by charitable organizations, and provides information to members of the public to assist them in making informed decisions on charitable giving. Currently, 7,900 charities, and 91 professional fundraisers are registered with the state. Of $13.9 million donated to professional telephone solicitors for charitable organizations in 2002 only $4.5 million, or 32.4 percent of the total money collected, was actually turned over to the organizations to which the donors thought they were giving. The department makes this information available to the public so individuals can make informed decisions on contributing to charities.
The department also represents the interests of the people of the state in matters before the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the United States Department of the Interior and in litigation involving land claims brought by groups claiming Indian ancestry. The department is actively involved in reviewing, researching and responding to petitions filed by a number of groups currently seeking federal recognition, including the Golden Hill Paugussetts, the Eastern Pequots and the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots, the Hassanamisco Nipmucs and the Schaghticokes. The department has been litigating a federal court action against the United States Department of the Interior to ensure that the Bureau of Indian Affairs conducts its recognition proceedings in a fundamentally fair manner. The department also provides advice and counsel to numerous state agencies regarding issues of Indian law.
The department also has participated in litigation and various regulatory proceedings to prevent harm to Long Island Sound posed by a number of energy projects, including the installation and operation of the Cross-Sound electric cable and the Islander East natural gas pipeline. The Department has initiated several court and administrative proceedings related to nuclear safety issues regarding the Indian Point Nuclear Facility located in Buchanan, New York, which is within eleven miles of Fairfield County.
The department plays a leading role in the preparation of appeals throughout the office. This year, the department’s attorneys briefed and/or argued a number of significant cases in the State Appellate Court, and the State Supreme Court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. This year, the Department has prosecuted a series of appeals in the Connecticut Supreme Court raising significant issues relating to the State’s sovereign immunity from suit.
The mission of the department is to expeditiously and efficiently collect monies owed to the State. It represents the Financial Services Center of the Department of Administrative Services and also provides representation in connection with certain collection activities of the Department of Social Services, the Department of Labor, the Department of Correction, John Dempsey Hospital, the Second Injury Fund, the Connecticut State University System, the Department of Higher Education, the Secretary of State and various other state agencies by specific request.
In fiscal 2002-2003, the department collected cash in excess of $27,000. This represents a significant increase over collections in the prior fiscal years. In addition to these cash receipts, the Department’s attorneys acquired security interests in the form of judgment liens, mortgages and statutory liens valued at nearly $40,000,000.
Department staff were actively engaged in a wide variety of litigation activities that resulted in significant recovery including In re WorldCom, et al. a bankruptcy matter which resulted in the recovery of over $13.5 million in unpaid sales and use taxes; Estate of Flora Sullivan, which resulted in the recovery of more than $622,000 through the enforcement of a statutory lien against proceeds of a cause of action securing reimbursement of public assistance benefits; In re Vanstar International Corp. resulting in the recovery of unpaid taxes in excess of $250,000; and Estate of James Saunders resulting in the recovery of over $575,000 in accident-related Medicaid payments.
Finally, through the efforts of Department staff, over $120,000 in unpaid wages were recovered for recalcitrant employees and distributed to Connecticut workers.
This department represents the health-related and educational agencies of the State of Connecticut. It represents the Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of Mental Retardation Psychiatric Security Review Board, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Commission on Medical and Legal Investigations overseeing the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Department of Public Health, Office of Health Care Access, and the various health licensing boards. The department also represents the State Board of Education, the Department of Higher Education and all constituent units of higher education.
The Attorney General commenced an action on behalf of the University of Connecticut against the Atlantic Coast Conference and the University of Miami seeking to prevent the defection of Miami and other colleges from the Big East Conference to the ACC. The lawsuit was brought to protect the viability of the Big East Conference, as well as Connecticut’s financial and educational interests. The case is pending.
The most significant health related case the department dealt with last year was related to the quality of care in health care institutions. The Supreme Court rendered its decision in Salmon v. Department of Public Health and Addiction Services, and affirmed the position of the State that resident abuse must be determined using an objective standard as to whether the patient was abused as opposed to a subjective one, dependent upon proof of actual harm to a patient. In the particular facts of the Salmon case, the acuity of the patient’s mind was at issue, and the abuse was verbal. The Court’s decision will serve to protect vulnerable patients from abuse by health care workers.
The Department was also involved in several nursing home receivership and bankruptcy proceedings involving Vencor, Mariner, Sun Healthcare, and Olympus. The focus of these proceedings is first to ensure that the patients are provided quality care, and second, the resources provided the homes under the Medicaid program are properly utilized. Currently, we are involved in actions concerning Atrium and Strawberry Hills, and a receivership is currently pending involving Pegasus. We also assisted the Department of Public Health in efforts to improve the quality of care in hospitals and the State’s psychiatric facilities through enforcement of quality standards.
Water company issues are another area that was very active. There were a number of significant decisions received which will aid the Department of Public Health in enforcing drinking water standards and the protection of water company lands. For example, in the case of the Town of Wallingford v. Department of Public Health, the Court upheld the Department’s determination that municipal land falling within the classification scheme for water company land was subject to the Department’s regulation. The case is now before the Connecticut Supreme Court. In Jacobowitz v. Department of Public Health, the Court held that the owner’s attempt to balkanize the water system into municipal entities to escape regulation could not be done. In Na-Mor, Inc. v. Department of Public Health, the Court reviewed the design criteria used to evaluate whether water operations constitute a public water system.
In a more broad based public health decision, the Appellate Court in Pinchbeck v. Department of Public Health, upheld the determination a neighbor did not have the standing to appeal a decision involving a neighbor’s procurement of a permit for a septic tank. With respect to the care of children, the Appellate Court in Elf v. Department of Public Health, upheld a decision of license revocation which was challenged on the basis the evidence was insufficient to merit such action.
An expanding area of the Department’s focus is that of Protective Services for the Elderly. On numerous occasions throughout the year, we initiated on behalf of the Protective Services for the Elderly Division of the Department of Social Services actions to protect elderly citizens from abuse and neglect. These actions were initiated in response to a number of conditions including the failure of caregivers to provide proper medical care, and basic necessities such as food and a clean environment. Increasingly these cases also involve the misuse of the assets of the elderly who are not in a position to protect themselves, and it may include family members. In the last legislative session, the Attorney General’s Office sponsored legislation to strengthen the ability of the Department of Social Services and this Office to protect the elderly through investigatory proceedings which will allow the appropriate informed decision to be made before the initiation of an action in the Probate Courts seeking protection for the individual. It will also assist in ensuring the Department can obtain access to individuals in need of protection.
With the enactment of new legislation with respect to the transfer of assets by probate court decision, and the effect which such transfers have on qualifying for Medicaid, our involvement in those courts increased.
With respect to protecting the State’s fisc, we were successful in an action entitled McCoy v. State of Connecticut, in obtaining a decision that any outstanding obligations with respect to care and treatment must be satisfied when a former patient seeks damages from the State.
A very significant decision was rendered by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Joanne Knight v. Department of Public Health. The Court rejected a plaintiff’s claimed that her First Amendment Rights were violated when the Department disciplined her for prosthetizing patients who were receiving care from a home health agency.
The Workers’ Compensation and Labor Relations Department represents the Treasurer as the Custodian of the Second Injury Fund, the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Department of Administrative Services in its capacity as the administrator of the state employees’ workers’ compensation program, as well as DAS Personnel, the Labor Department, the Office of Labor Relations, the Office of Claims Commissioner, the State Employees Retirement Commission, the Teachers’ Retirement Board, and others. The department’s worker’s compensation staff represents the Second Injury Fund in cases involving potential liability of the Fund for workers’ compensation benefits and the State of Connecticut contested workers’ compensation claims filed by state employees, while the labor relations attorneys represent the Department of Labor in unemployment compensation appeals to the Superior Court. The department’s workers’ compensation attorneys and paralegals also spend significant time on third party tort-feasor cases that result in the recovery of money for both the state and the Fund, as well as handling a large number of appeals to the Compensation Review Board and on to the Appellate and Supreme Courts.
During the past fiscal year, department attorneys and paralegals appeared for the Fund and the State in over 2000 hearings before workers’ compensation commissioners, while Labor relations attorneys appeared before the Superior Court in over 150 unemployment compensation cases.
In addition, department attorneys and paralegals were responsible for recouping $373,237.12 for the Second Injury Fund and $491,270.15 for the State of Connecticut through third party interventions. This money represents a reimbursement to the state or Second Injury Fund of money which has been paid out in workers’ compensation benefits for injuries caused by a third party.
The Healthcare Fraud/Whistleblower/Health Insurance Advocacy Department had another important and busy year. The Whistleblower Unit issued several reports jointly with the Child Advocate concerning the inadequate job being done to protect Connecticut’s children, particularly at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School. Another in depth report concerned the Amity Regional School District’s administrative and financial management.
The Health Care Fraud unit recovered $2.2 million from a clinical laboratory in addition to other recoveries, bringing the Unit’s total recoveries over $35 million in six years. In addition, lawsuits were filed against seven pharmaceutical manufacturers for illegally manipulating the average wholesale prices reported to the Connecticut Medicaid program.
The Health Insurance Advocacy unit assisted 404 people, many in need of potentially lifesaving procedures, bringing insurance coverage worth $2,339,777.30 to those affected. The Unit also worked on several pieces of legislation resulting in better health insurance protection, including acts which expand availability of insurance coverage to small businesses and begin to regulate managed care subcontractors, so called “carve-outs.”
This department and the Attorney General have also been actively seeking to recover the $220 million lost by the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority in the Enron bankruptcy. Our work has included the filing of multiple lawsuits against Enron officers, banks, law firms and CRRA’s legal advisors.
This department represents the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and prosecutes all cases of discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and credit practices. The department also represents various state agencies and state officers in the defense of high exposure personal injury cases. Members of this department have implemented trial advocacy programs for the office, and others have served as instructors at civil rights seminars for members of the bar and the public.
The department has favorably resolved many complex tort cases, including some in which decedents’ estates initially sought tens of millions of dollars in damages. The CHRO has referred dozens of new civil rights cases to be prosecuted by this department, and judgments in excess of $150,000 have been obtained for victims of discrimination.