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 - 323
Recurring General Fund operating expenses - $24.1 million
Revenues generated - $283,844,451
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, 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 2003-2004 fiscal year: $283,844,451
A. Revenue Generated for General Fund Second Injury Fund $ 438,804
Tobacco Settlement Fund Collections $116,600,000
State Child Support Collections $ 42,200,000 Workers’ Comp re State Employees $ 523,640
Tax Collection $ 2,346,912 Unpaid Wage and Unemployment Tax $ 469,087
Health Care Fraud Recovery $ 4,256,531 Total Revenue for Special Funds $ 1,557,233
Penalties for Environmental Violations $ 1,974,244 C. Revenue Awarded or Paid to Consumers
Antitrust/Consumer Protection $ 620,710 Consumer Restitution $ 1,372,950
Department of Social Services $ 2,832,367 Environmental Remediation $ 1,961,270
Department of Administrative Services $ 4,929,609 Charitable Trusts & Fund Recovered or
Miscellaneous Collections $ 1,962,004 Preserved for Charitable Purposes $14,900,000
Construction Recoveries $ 1,885,093 Refund of Federal Energy Charges $ 83,418,564
Total Revenue for State's General Fund $179,607,470 Home Improvement Restitution $ 536,160
Insurance Advocacy $ 490,804
Total Revenue Generated for Consumers $102,679,748
B. Revenue Generated for Special Funds
John Dempsey Hospital $ 125,702 TOTAL REVENUE ACHIEVED
Public Service Provided by the Office of the Attorney General
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 2003-2004 the office generated approximately 284 million in revenue for the general fund, special state funds and for consumers. The overall work completed by this office in fiscal year 2003-2004 is summarized as follows:
Court cases completed 22,390
Court cases pending 17,613
Legal documents 6,075
Appeals completed 123
Appeals pending 247
Formal opinions issued 16
The Attorney General's Office submitted a comprehensive list of legislative proposals to restore integrity and credibility to the state contracting process. The legislature approved many of these proposals including requiring gift affidavits from contractors for major state contracts, increasing the time limits for filing ethics complaints, toughening civil and criminal penalties for violations of the State Ethics Code and mandating state agency evaluations of state contractors.
Consumers will benefit from the Attorney General's successful advocacy of legislation to prevent major oil companies from dictating the retail price of gasoline and requiring consumer notification of automatic renewal provisions in contracts for services or goods, along with a clear right to refuse to renew. The Attorney General also successfully advocated for protecting water company lands from being developed, extending the moratorium on Long Island Sound projects, encouraging reduction in greenhouse gases and allowing municipalities to place a conservation easement on town lands.
Health Care Fraud/Whistleblower
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 management and programic deficiencies at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School. Another report determined that the executive director of the Environmental Research Institute failed to fulfill significant aspects of his state responsibilities at the same time he was expanding his lucrative private consulting business. The University of Connecticut implemented corrective measures, relieved him of his duties, and he will no longer be a tenured faculty member.
We also investigated significant concerns raised about asbestos in the Brookfield Schools. Our investigation determined that the Department of Public Health abdicated its responsibility for overseeing the asbestos remediation effort undertaken by the Town of Brookfield and also failed to properly review and evaluate the Brookfield school district management plans for managing asbestos in its schools. Upon the recommendation of the Attorney General, the state allowed Brookfield to obtain emergency funding to remediate its asbestos problem so that its schools could open on time for the 2003 school year.
The Health Care Advocacy Unit has continued to assist patients and their doctors resolve disputes with managed care companies. The larger issues arising during fiscal year 2004 related to denials of coverage for medically necessary care, retroactive terminations of individual health care policies and Lyme disease. The Health Care Advocacy Unit continues to have great success in achieving favorable coverage determinations for consumers who require life-saving treatments such as stem cell transplants and coordinated a public forum on Lyme disease co-chaired by Attorney General Blumenthal and Public Health Commissioner Galvin.
The Health Care Fraud Unit recovered over five million dollars for the General Fund, bringing the Unit’s total recoveries to over $40 million in seven years. The majority of the dollars recovered came from settlements involving the pharmaceutical industry, although there were other significant recoveries including half a million dollars from Marotta Manor, a residential care home, and a quarter of a million dollars from illegal billing by health care providers for child vaccines.
This Department administers and enforces the Connecticut Antitrust Act, and has authority to enforce major provisions of the federal antitrust laws. The Department also relies on other federal and state laws to ensure the Attorney General’s overall responsibility to maintain open and competitive markets in Connecticut. Utilizing these statutes, we investigate and prosecute antitrust and other competition-related actions on behalf of consumers, businesses and governmental units. In addition, this Department provides advice and counsel on proposed legislation and various issues regarding competition policy. In the past few years, the Attorney General served as the chair of the Antitrust Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General and remains active within that organization.
Efforts to combat the continuing high cost of prescription drugs has been one of the Attorney General’s highest priorities over the last few years and this past fiscal year showed no letup in the Department’s focus on this ever-important problem. Several investigations were initiated and two lawsuits brought against drug manufacturers were settled. One lawsuit resulted in a $62.5 million settlement obtained from an antitrust suit brought by the Attorney General against Bristol-Myers Squibb (“BMS”). The lawsuit alleged that BMS used fraudulent means to delay the entry of lower-priced generic versions of BMS’s chemotherapy drug Taxol®. By illegally preventing generic competition for Taxol®, and withholding it from the market, BMS inflated the cost of chemotherapy for thousands of patients. A second nationwide settlement was obtained following a lawsuit the Attorney General filed against Mylan Laboratories. The settlement resulted in the award of approximately $400,000 dollars to the State of Connecticut and its Department of Social Services. The Mylan lawsuit, filed in 1998, alleged that Mylan engaged in an illegal price increase for two its drugs, Lorazepam and Clorazepate, which are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other afflictions. Under the terms of the settlement, the court ordered that the money recovered by the Attorney General should be used for a pilot project to provide direct services to Connecticut individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
Along with the latter two settlements, the Department is conducting a number of investigations into various aspects of the drug industry, including an antitrust investigation of whether Purdue Pharma L. P. violated antitrust laws by illegally preventing the advent of generic competition for its narcotic painkiller, OxyContin®.
A result of the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States is that many consumers have been forced to turn to Canadian pharmacies to purchase cheaper versions of the drugs prescribed for them by their health care providers. Some U. S. drug manufacturers, however, have threatened Canadian drug wholesalers and pharmacies with termination of their supply contracts if these entities sell and ship their drugs to U. S. consumers. During this past year, the Attorney General has launched an antitrust investigation to determine whether drug manufacturers colluded with each other and entered into illegal agreements to refuse to supply those Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers that resold the drugs into the United States. Further, in light of his concerns with Connecticut consumers’ ability to gain access to affordable prescription drugs from Canada, and consistent with his competition advocacy program, the Attorney General, along with Attorneys General from several other states, wrote to the Secretary of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services expressing the need for immediate action to help State pharmaceutical programs, including the Connecticut Medicaid program, deal with the high cost of prescription drugs. The Attorney General also proposed several strategies that could allow the States to work with the FDA and its Canadian counterpart, Health Canada, to assist the States in importing FDA approved prescription drugs from Canada.
This past fiscal year also saw heightened activity in the investigation and enforcement of mergers that have the potential to negatively impact competition for certain services in the state. In the banking and financial services industry, the Attorney General, along with the U. S. Department of Justice, filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the proposed $7 billion acquisition of Concord EFS, Inc. by First Data Corporation. At the time of the proposed merger, Concord and First Data owned the largest and third-largest Personal Identification Network (“PIN”) debit networks, respectively. These networks allow consumers to purchase goods and services from merchants through PIN debit transactions by “swiping” their bank card at a merchant’s terminal. The merger, as proposed, would have enabled First Data/Concord to control half of the total market for PIN debit card transactions, conceivably allowing them to raise prices for such services. As a result of the lawsuit, First Data/Concord agreed to divest one of the networks, ensuring continued competition among PIN debit networks. In addition to the First Data/Concord merger, the Department investigated the Bank of America’s (“BOA”) acquisition of Fleet Bank, Connecticut’s largest bank. In conjunction with the merger investigation the Attorney General testified before the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to urge the Board to condition the merger only on BOA’s commitment to specific initiatives for the State of Connecticut, including mandatory increases in employment levels, establishment of a Connecticut advisory board for oversight and accountability, increased reinvestment in the state and cooperation with federal and state authorities investigating improper mutual fund trading within the industry.
The computer and technology industry continues to be a primary focal point for antitrust enforcement. In June of 2003, Connecticut, together with the U. S. Department of Justice and several other states, filed a lawsuit challenging Oracle Corp.’s hostile tender offer for PeopleSoft, Inc. The state of Connecticut has significant business relationships with PeopleSoft such that Oracle’s attempted acquisition could, if completed, directly damage the state and its economy. In their lawsuit, the federal and state antitrust enforcers allege that the proposed acquisition could eventually lead to a rise in prices for businesses, governments and customers due to a significant reduction in competition in the markets PeopleSoft currently serves. Trial in the matter commenced in federal court in the Northern District of California beginning in June, 2004 and is continuing. Apart from United States, et al. v. Oracle, the Department continues to monitor and enforce the judgment Connecticut obtained against Microsoft Corporation following the completion of a lengthy trial in conjunction with a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General and nine other attorneys general. The enforcement and monitoring of the judgment is a critical aspect of the relief awarded in order to ensure that Microsoft abides by the terms of the judgment, which requires Microsoft to provide the software industry with access to its technical documentation to enable these companies to write programs that interoperate with Microsoft’s programs. In April, 2004, due to concerns raised by Connecticut and the other states that Microsoft was failing to adhere to its obligations, Microsoft agreed to extend for two years - - until November 2009 - - the requirement that competitors have access to its software protocols.
Consumer Protection Department
The focus of this department is consumer protection through counsel and representation of the Department of Consumer Protection, consumer education and complaint mediation, and 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).
In a case of public interest, the Department, on behalf of the Attorney General, defended the Commissioner of Consumer Protection’s determination that American Car Rental (d/b/a Acme Rent a Car) violated CUTPA by failing to disclose material terms and by the assessment of an unconscionable penalty on consumers, when the company used Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in its rental cars to track the speed of its customers without their knowledge and to assess a $150 fee for each instance of speeding.
The Attorney General continues his efforts to educate and mediate matters on behalf of consumers, providing alerts to consumers on how to avoid a variety of consumer scams. Additionally, as part of the settlement last year of a multistate investigation of Ford Motor Company, this department is highly involved in developing a $30 million campaign to help consumers safely drive sports utility vehicles. Further, the Department’s mediation group, the Consumer Assistance Unit (CAU), with the help of 13 senior volunteers, obtained over $1,008,517.77 in refunds or credits to Connecticut consumers this fiscal year.
The Department worked, on behalf of the Attorney General, in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection on several investigations, including a completed investigation of Girard Mitsubishi, which revealed several instances where Girard falsely represented to consumers that they could list a fictitious trade-in vehicle or down payment on their credit application in order to obtain approval of the retail finance contract by a finance company or credit union. The Department filed suit seeking injunctive relief against this deceptive conduct and civil penalties. Moreover, the Department obtained a stipulated judgment as a result of a multistate investigation of Ford Motor Credit (FMC) and 15 local dealers for “Lease payoff packing.” The investigation revealed that when a consumer decided to buy their leased vehicle FMC would disclose the amount of the lease payoff to the dealer but not to the consumer. When the consumer asked the dealer for the payoff amount, some dealers would “pack” the payoff amount by adding an additional amount for their own profit, without disclosing this to the consumer. As a result, the consumer was never aware that the total amount they paid was not merely the payoff balance but included an additional, negotiable amount added on by the dealer. The total potential restitution from FMC for Connecticut consumers is projected to be $374,800.
In another matter, the Department assisted the Attorney General in pursuing ongoing CUTPA litigation against Newtown Oil to recover nearly $900,000 that the now defunct company received and kept from its customers despite its failure to deliver pre-bought home heating oil to nearly 1,400 people. Additionally, the Department obtained a stipulated judgment against Robert’s American Gourmet and its manufacturer, Keystone Foods, prohibiting the companies from making unproven health claims and misstating the nutritional content of their snack foods. Similarly, the Attorney General obtained $50,000 in civil penalties and injunctive relief in a stipulated judgment entered against a Texas company which used deceptive telemarketing practices to market maps; $45,000 in civil penalties, injunctive relief, and consumer restitution in a stipulated judgment against a Texas insurance company that billed consumers for membership in its discount drug program without the consent of the affected consumers; and a judgment which prohibits an Internet website that sold prescription drugs from engaging in such website sales if the doctors and pharmacies involved are not licensed in Connecticut.
In Fiscal Year 2004, many retailers who had outlets in Connecticut filed for bankruptcy. To dispose of inventory, debtors sought court sanctioning of consumer-unfriendly sales guidelines. Our office appeared in these bankruptcy courts to protect consumers’ interests, successfully preserving (1) the value of gift cards; (2) the availability of refunds and exchanges for return of defective goods; (3) a ban on augmentation of inventory; and (4) the maintenance of priority claims for consumer deposits. Indeed, the Department’s advocacy on behalf of consumers in the Bob’s stores’ bankruptcy matter contributed to saving thousands of jobs of Connecticut workers when the intended closing of several Bob’s stores in Connecticut was forestalled.
Moreover, 175 home improvement contractors were prosecuted by the department’s Home Improvement Prosecution Unit with the assistance of attorneys from departments throughout the office and over $500,000 in restitution to victims was ordered by the superior courts in this fiscal year.
The Department aided the Attorney General’s participation on behalf of the State before the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Federal Communications Commission (FC), the Courts of Appeals for the Second Circuit and D.C.Circuit, as well as the United States District Court and United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Southern District of New York. For example, the Attorney General intervened in the bankruptcy filing by NRG Energy, Inc., and prevented NRG from abandoning its obligations under its standard offer service contract, supplying 45 percent of the electricity to CL&P’s customers. NRG agreed to continue its performance, saving Connecticut ratepayers more than $75 million dollars. The Attorney General also participated in a FERC proceeding to determine whether ratepayers or electric suppliers were responsible for new congestion costs assigned under standard market design (SMD). The Attorney General negotiated a settlement agreement in that proceeding that obtained a refund of more than $83,418,564 million dollars for ratepayers. The Attorney General also appeared before various rate proceedings at the DPUC, successfully preventing CL&P from obtaining $400 million dollars in new rate increases.
Child Protection Department
This department, with over 40 attorneys, is dedicated to protecting the children of the State of Connecticut from abuse and neglect. This past year, the Child Protection Department successfully represented the Department of Children and Families in thousands of juvenile court cases, to protect children who had been abused and neglected and help their placement in permanent safe homes. The department also successfully defended a number of appeals involving these children before the Appellate and Supreme Court.
In 2004, the Appellate Court ruled in In re Travis B., that the trial court properly dismissed a motion to open a termination judgment where the parent had claimed that her consent to termination had been coerced. The court ruled that there was no evidence that the parent had been under duress at the time she had agreed to give up her parental rights.
The Appellate Court also upheld a termination decision in In re Vanna A.; in that case, the mother asserted that because she had participated in some services, her parental rights should not have been terminated. However the Appellate Court ruled that because the mother continued to deny responsibility for injuries to her children, she had not developed the insight necessary for the court to determine she had rehabilitated nor was there any reason to believe the mother would have benefited from additional services
In In re Alexander T., the Appellate Court found that a mother who continued to use illegal drugs, failed to visit her children, refused to participate in counseling and was arrested for criminal misconduct, had failed to rehabilitate, and that no further services would benefit her.
Similarly, in In re Victoria B., the Appellate Court upheld a termination of parental rights decision, even though the mother demonstrated that she had made some progress in treatment, because the court properly considered, in examining the best interest of the child, the child’s progress in her foster home, her strong bond with her foster parents and her wishes to remain with that family.
In In re Haley B., the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of a motion to transfer guardianship to the child’s grandmother because the grandmother had failed to follow DCF’s directions limiting the child’s contact with her mother, and had ignored the department’s concerns for the child’s safety.
In In re Ashley M., the Appellate Court determined that even though the mother was safety caring for a child’s sibling, the mother had failed to participate in substance abuse programs, had not regularly visited the child at issue, had failed to keep DCF aware of her whereabouts, and had failed to show any sensitivity to the needs of the neglected child; therefore the trial court was justified in terminating her parental rights because the mother had not met the child’s needs.
The Appellate Court ruled, in In re Darien S., that state law does not require DCF to prove at permanency hearings for delinquents a compelling need to keep the child committed to DCF. In a case of first impression, the court determined that, unlike children who are abused or neglected, children who are delinquent do not have the same right to demand that continued commitment to DCF be justified. The purpose of the permanency hearing is to determine the goal or plan for the child – in this case, the plan was to eventually return the child home to his mother.
In In re Kaurice B., the Appellate Court found that the trial court had ample basis to affirm an order of temporary custody when the child had been physically abused and threatened by her parents, had been sexually abused by a relative with the parents’ knowledge, the father had driven her in his car while he was intoxicated, and the child was very fearful of returning home. The court looked at the cumulative information about the family and determined that the child was in imminent physical danger, justifying the child’s emergency removal.
The Supreme Court also considered a significant legal question involving abused and neglected children. In re Samantha C. determined that while parents cannot be forced to testify in juvenile court cases, the court may draw an adverse inference from their silence, once DCF has proven its prima facie case. The Supreme Court held that juvenile court cases are civil matters and that parents should be for-warned by the court that a parent’s failure to explain their behavior may lead to an adverse inference being drawn against the parent.
In federal court, DCF employees were successfully defended in the matter of Carroll v. Ragaglia. There, a number of social workers, and the Commissioner of DCF, were sued by a foster father who claimed that DCF conducted a faulty investigation into allegations that he had abused his foster son and failed to provide him with an administrative hearing on the substantiation of the charges. The district court ruled that the social workers were entitled to immunity, that their conduct was reasonable, that the allegations were well supported by medical evidence and the child’s statements, and that the workers were not personally involved in the decision to delay the administrative hearing while criminal proceedings were ongoing. Moreover, because the foster parent had turned down the opportunity for a hearing, he could not claim that his constitutional rights were violated.
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.
This past year, we again devoted a great deal of resources to our continuing battle against Midwest power plants under the Clean Air Act for spewing millions of tons of pollution into the air that gets carried to Connecticut, and severely affecting the health and welfare of our citizens. We continued our court battles with The Ohio Edison Company, Cinergy and AEP.
We obtained an important victory in our court challenge to the Environmental Protections Agency's rollback of important laws relating to air quality---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 facilities. In December of 2003, the court issued a stay of the implementation of the laws while our appeal is pursued. In addition, we continued our fight against the EPA for declining to regulate carbon dioxide, the major cause of global warming.
We continued our efforts to protect Long Island Sound and the sea held in trust for our citizens against environmentally destructive intrusions. We fought to oppose the Islander East pipeline before a variety of federal agencies and we continued our representation of DEP in their denial of state certifications.
We had several successful court victories this past year. We won a case against Timothy Mellon and Goodspeed Airport based on the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act. After the defendants clear cut 2.5 acres of valuable flood plain forest of international significance along the Connecticut River, the court ordered the defendants to make efforts to restore the forest. We obtained an important decision from the Appellate Court in the case of Design Land Developers. We convinced a trial court that this company should be held in contempt for its failure to comply with a court judgment we obtained against it. On Appeal, the Appellate Court agreed with us that trial courts have continuing jurisdiction to vindicate prior judgments.
We represented the Department of Agriculture in saving abused animals by seizing them, and obtaining court orders vesting ownership in the state. In CT, ex rel B. Godejohn vs. Twenty-Seven Horses, we brought an in rem action against 27 horses and one mule belonging to Paul Novicki of Hamden. The Court, found the animals to be neglected and abused on September 22, 2003. The animals were forfeited to the state and Mr. Novicki was ordered to pay the Department of Agriculture $14,355.00 for expenses incurred by the Department for the shelter and care of the animals. The animals were later sold at state auction. In State v. 49 Chihuahuas, we obtained custody and ownership of 49 neglected chihuahuas on November 3, 2003.
We assisted the Department of Agriculture in negotiating an agreement to save Max the dog. Max was ordered destroyed after he bit his owner. Some believed the bite was a result of the dog being startled. The Department of Agriculture, with the Attorney General’s assistance, negotiated the terms of an order allowing Max to be returned to his family.
We carried on our representation of the Department of Environmental Protection to enforce our state environmental laws, and to obtain penalties and injunctions to clean-up the environment. This past year, we collected over $2.5 million in penalties from polluters.
We continued our successful program to seize vehicles used for illegal dumping, of representing the state in bankruptcy proceedings where the state has a claim or interest, in representing agencies in administrative proceedings, in protecting wetlands and watercourses by intervening in appeals of local wetland agency decisions, and by providing a full range of legal services to the agencies we represent including contract review, and providing advice and counsel.
Finance and Public Utilities Department
The Finance and Public Utilities Department provides legal services to state agencies that regulate insurance, banking, securities, and public utilities, as well as the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Revenue Services, the Office of Policy and Management, the Bond Commission, and the Insurance Policy and Risk Management Board. Legal issues involving state regulation of the financial services industry form a major part of this Department’s work. In addition, this Department is responsible for enforcement of the master settlement agreement between the states, including Connecticut, and various participating tobacco product manufacturers and related tobacco issues.
We are increasingly involved in matters that challenge federal efforts to restrict the regulatory authority of states in the banking field. This includes a major lawsuit of national significance in which Wachovia Bank, a nationally chartered bank, has sued to prevent the State from regulating its state-chartered mortgage-lending subsidiary. The maintenance of state regulatory authority is vital to the protection of consumers from abusive or deceptive practices, including predatory lending. This office continues to combat predatory lending, in which consumers are enticed into purchasing high cost, high fee home loans that they cannot repay or refinance.
We are also involved in ensuring that consumers’ voices are heard in mergers and other structural changes in the banking and insurance industries. This office has successfully pressed for changes that favor the interests of consumers and the public, for example, in the New Haven Savings Bank demutualization and the Fleet-Bank of America and the Travelers-St. Paul Companies mergers.
This department also represents the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) and the Connecticut Siting Council in all legal matters at the state and federal level, including representing the State’s interest in several matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that have a great impact on rates paid by Connecticut consumers. This office is also actively involved in important issues such as the decommissioning of the Connecticut Yankee Atomic Plant, the storage of spent nuclear fuel, and the siting of a new 345 kV electric transmission line to southwestern Connecticut.
Child Support & Collections
This Department’s mission is to expeditiously collect monies owed to the state and to secure and enforce orders for the support of children. Its attorneys represent the Financial Services Center of the Department of Administrative Services in the recovery of public assistance benefits and costs of incarceration and provide representation in connection with collection activities of the Departments of Social Services, Revenue Services, Correction, Higher Education as well as John Dempsey Hospital, the Second Injury Fund, the Connecticut State University System, and the Secretary of State. In furtherance of its child support activities, the Department also provides legal services to the Department of Social Services Bureau of Child Support Enforcement and to the Support Enforcement Services division of the Judicial Branch pursuant to a cooperative agreement designed to satisfy the requirements of the federal Social Security Act and related state law.
In fiscal year 2003-2004 Department attorneys secured cash payments on debts owed to the state in excess of 11.1 million dollars. In addition to these cash receipts, security interests in the form of judgment liens, mortgages and statutory liens secured approximately $86,000 in additional in payments due to the State.
The child support function has traditionally been marked by significant caseloads. Fiscal 2003-2004 was true to form in all operational categories. Professional and paralegal staff handled more than 9,700 new referrals while closing more than 8,400 cases. In the very important area of paternity establishments, there were 1,919 new filings, 1,785 case closings and 1,217 judgments or acknowledgments of paternity recorded.
Department attorneys were actively engaged in a wide variety of litigation activities and won several important judicial victories during the year. In Commissioner of Social Services v. Christopher Smith, the Supreme Court agreed with the position of this office, holding that a defendant who fails to appear or otherwise deny the allegations of a support petition is deemed to have admitted the facts alleged in the petition on which the action is based. In a bankruptcy matter involving Connecticut Furniture Expo, the Department took the lead in not only recovering $113,000.00 in unpaid sales and use taxes but in securing recovery of consumer deposits for undelivered furniture and unpaid wages of employees. In State v. Catherine Henneberry, Conservatrix, the Superior Court held that a “special needs trust” created pursuant to 42 USC 1396d(d) could not be written so as to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility for any public assistance program other than the Medicaid program. In State v. Clarence Booth, litigation initiated to foreclose a lien place by the Department of Environmental Protection to secure reimbursement of costs associated with remediation of gasoline contamination resulted in a recovery of $320,000.00. In addition, over 2 million dollars in public assistance reimbursements were secured in proceedings involving the Estate of Juan Polanco ($531,187.72), the Estate of Tammy Cheatham ($518,725.24), the Estate of Mary Gibbons ($329,908.34), the Mary Porter Trust ($306,000.00), the Estate of George Becker ($153,900.00), and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency v. Pratt ($100,789.09).
Finally, Department attorneys continued to fulfill their professional obligation to advance the process of law. The department serves on the Child Support Guidelines Commission and its attorneys serve on a committee established by the Judicial Branch to make recommendations to the Judges of the Superior Court regarding the establishment of Practice Book rules of practice for proceedings before the Family Magistrate Division.
This department defends state agencies and state officials in employment related litigation and administrative complaints and provides legal advice and guidance to state agencies on employment issues. We are currently defending the state in approximately 160 employment cases in the state and federal courts, as well as a similar number of complaints before the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
During the past year, the department successfully defended state agencies in a number of significant cases. In Friedman v State Treasurer, we successfully defended to an arbitrator’s award of health insurance benefits to same-sex partners of state employees. In another case, Piscottano v Murphy, we obtained a ruling that allowed the Department of Correction to take disciplinary action taken against correction officers who were members of or associated with the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, an organization that law enforcement agencies have deemed to be a criminal enterprise. We continued to assist the Department of Correction in implementing the terms of a stipulated agreement that made improvements in the manner in which the DOC deals with sexual harassment complaints made by its employees. In addition, 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.
Public Safety and Special Revenue Department
This department represents the Department of Public Safety, including the Division of State Police, the Division of Fire, Emergency and Building Services; the Military Department; the Department of Correction; the Division of Special Revenue and the Department of Consumer Protection Liquor Control Division. It also provides legal services and representation to a number of associated boards, commissions and agencies, including the Division of Criminal Justice, the Division of Public Defender Services, the Office of Adult Probation, the Governor's Office (Interstate Extradition), the Statewide Emergency 9-1-1 Commission, the State Codes and Standards Committee, the Crane Operator's Examining Board, the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, the Board of Pardons, the Board of Parole, Police Officer Standards and Training Council, the Office of Civil Preparedness, the State Marshal Commission, Office of Victim Services and the Gaming Policy Board.
Although we provide legal services to and represent a variety of state functions in the area of public safety, criminal justice and special revenue, 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, save additional sums which might have been required to comply with court orders and preserve the state's authority in administering a growing prison population. In addition, this department has assisted in the collection from prisoners of thousands of dollars in costs of incarceration.
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. These cases were argued and we are awaiting a decision. In addition, we are involved in a class action lawsuit challenging the Department of Correction's strip search policy.
We successfully argued a case before the Connecticut Supreme which held that the Patients Bill of Rights statutes, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 17a-540, et seq., do not apply to the Department of Correction, allowing the Department of Correction to provide medical and mental health care to prisoners in Connecticut in a secure and effective manner. This department negotiated a settlement agreement in Office of Protection and Advocacy v. Choinski, et al. resolving an action brought by the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities to improve the provision of mental health treatment for inmates confined in the Northern and Garner Correctional Institutions.
We have the responsibility for the defense and representation of almost all the lawsuits involving the State Police seeking money damages. Our caseload of police litigation continues. In the past year, we successfully litigated a number of cases in federal court and received favorable jury verdicts in several.
We continue to represent the Department of Public Safety in administrative appeals involving the State Building Code and Fire Safety Code. We also routinely appear on behalf of the department before the Freedom of Information Commission.
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 significant advisory opinions concerning permissible activities under the Gaming Compacts with the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. We also provided the Liquor Control Division with advice on a number of legal issues concerning enforcement of the liquor law. In addition, we have handled a number of administrative appeals involving the Division.
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 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. During the past year there have been significant activities in the District Court regarding the decree.
Transportation, Housing and Public Works Department
The Transportation Department of the Office of the Attorney General 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, the Transportation Department provides representation for various occupational licensing boards within the Department of Consumer Protection ("DCP"). The representation of the foregoing state agencies/boards includes, but is not limited to, counseling and advice on legal issues, the prosecution or defense of lawsuits or claims in both federal and Connecticut courts, and before various administrative entities, including the defense of claims filed with the Office of the Claims Commissioner pursuant to Chapter 53 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
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 in the Transportation Department to provide legal assistance to the DOT, DPW and DAS 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 and procurement projects.
This past year has been consumed with the investigation of corruption in public bidding, solicitation of proposals, procurement, and contracting including the ongoing investigation of Tomasso Bros. Inc. on DPW projects for the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Facility and Court house; Claywell Electric’s involvement in those projects as well as Kurt Claywell’s guilty pleas to mail and tax fraud on DPW’s Stamford Court House project. The Department was instrumental in advising and helping to craft the Attorney General’s Integrity in State Government Policy implemented earlier this year requiring affidavits from contractors and state employees disclosing gifts given and received. This policy has now been codifed by the legislature.
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. The attorneys in the Transportation Department 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, this Department was successful in protecting the interests of the State and its taxpayers in several cases. Several large complex litigation cases are still ongoing. Of note:
¾ Based on the preliminary reports of two forensic consultants investigating the extensive leaking problem at the University of Connecticut Law Library, we anticipate that the State will be seeking compensation for damages against several of the entities that constructed the building.
¾ Similarly, we anticipate that the State will be seeking compensation for damages against several of the entities that constructed the Niantic women’s prison, York Correctional Facility.
¾ The Gold Star Bridge arbitration continues and has been ongoing for nearly ten (10) years.
¾ After a year of hearings in the arbitration of the $90 million White Oak claim on the Tomlinson Bridge the case is still in dispute.
¾ Finally, more than sixty arbitration hearing dates occurred over the last two years in the matter of Blakeslee Arpaia Chapman v. DOT in its claim for over $6 million. Blakeslee was only awarded $2.3 million and was not awarded interest or attorney’s fees.
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 shed and maintenance facilities located throughout the State. This past year we closed 60 eminent domain cases through settlement or trial while 46 new eminent domain cases arrived. This Department also represents both the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) and the Department of Agriculture (“Agriculture”) in property matters. This past year the Department finished reviewing 41 Deeds, 101 Agreements, and 13 Leases.
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. During the past year, we provided legal counsel and review of 121 leases, contracts and personal service agreements for DPW. This is exclusive of DPW real estate transactions in the form of purchase and sale and lease/purchase acquisitions of property.
In addition to the noted construction contracting matters, the Transportation Department is deeply involved in various environmental matters associated with public works projects, roads and bridges projects, and other activities of our client agencies. A major continuing responsibility is to provide appropriate legal assistance and guidance to these agencies to ensure that there is compliance with applicable federal and state environmental laws in the planning of projects and the operation of state facilities. In particular, to assist these agencies in their efforts to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act ("CEPA") and other federal and Connecticut regulations that have been enacted to protect the air, water and other natural resources of the state. In this regard, the Department assists the agencies in preparing and obtaining required environmental permits (e.g., wetland permits) from both Connecticut and federal regulatory agencies – e.g., the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Currently the Department’s attorneys are working closely with DOT, DPW and DAS to help them meet their new responsibilities pursuant to Public Act 03-215 (“Act”) which goes into effect on October 1, 2004. The Act requires that all bidders on Public Works’ projects as well as on DOT’s building projects be prequalified prior to bidding on a State building project in excess of $500,000.
Finally, the Department is representing the DMV in a lawsuit brought by the statewide emissions testing vendor, Agbar, after DMV suspended the emissions testing program in April because of the many testing errors found by the State’s auditor.
Special Litigation Department
This Department represents the Governor, the Judicial Branch, the General Assembly, the Secretary of the State, the Treasurer, the Comptroller, the Auditors of Public Accounts, 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 Office of the Victims 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 Department 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 8,400 charities, and 94 professional fundraisers are registered with the state. Of $8 million donated to professional telephone solicitors for charitable organizations in 2003, only $2.8 million, or 35.4 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 (“BIA”) in the United States Department of the Interior and in litigation involving land claims brought by groups claiming Indian ancestry. The Department has appealed two BIA decisions to recognize the Eastern Pequots and the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots, and the Schaghticokes, as well as defending petitions for tribal acknowledgment filed by the Golden Hill Paugussetts and the Nipmucs. 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 argued a number of significant cases in the State Appellate Court, and the State Supreme Court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and other appellate courts. The Department also operates a Moot Court program for attorneys in the office, and plays an important role in the office’s participation as amicus curiae in cases before the United States and Connecticut Supreme Court.
Health and Human Services Department
The Health and Education Department represents a myriad of state agencies which include the State Department of Education, Department of Mental Retardation, University of Connecticut, and all other agencies that have an educational function. It represents the Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, 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.
Throughout the last fiscal year, the Department provided legal services to the Department of Public Health in its role as a health regulatory enforcement agency. This resulted in numerous actions being instituted on behalf of the Department to ensure that the quality standards set forth in the statutes and regulations were maintained. These efforts included enforcement actions against nursing homes, an example of which was a Consent Order from the owners of the Greenwood Nursing Home in which a fire took place. The Order included a provision barring the officers and directors of the facility from ever owning, managing, or being an employee of a health care facility in Connecticut in the future.
Other areas of enforcement involved actions against clinic licenses which violate the law. For example, the department obtained the surrender of Noah’s Ark methadone clinic license. Day care cases provide a substantial number of actions. Of note was the surrender of the license for Today’s Child with a payment of $75,000.
In the drinking water area, numerous enforcement actions were brought to obtain compliance with drinking water standards. Some of the actions involved establishing that the entity was a water company subject to state regulation. In Department of Public Health v. Na-Mor, Inc. a $5,000 contempt order was obtained against the corporation for failure to comply with Department regulations. A number of actions were brought against corporations to compel them to obtain certified operators of systems. These included actions brought against Salmon Brook, Fitchville, and NGH in which $35,000 in fines were collected.
We also provided counsel and advice to the Department in obtaining an agreement from the Mashantucket Pequot Indians which guarantees that drinking water from the reservation supplies to citizens of Connecticut complies with the standards of the state.
A regular aspect of the business of the Department is providing advice to the licensing boards that adjudicate cases of professional misconduct brought by the Department and defending the Boards’ decision in the Superior Court when appeals are taken. In the Ryan v. Connecticut Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Department successfully defended claims of bias against a member of the Board and gained recognition from the court of the Board’s ability to ask questions and apply its own expertise to the factual context.
In the mental health area, Dyous v. Psychiatric Security Review Board, the Psychiatric Security Review Board’s authority to place an acquittee in its jurisdiction in the appropriate facility was established. The Department filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Board and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the important case of State v. Long in which the Supreme Court upheld the process of recommitment of an acquittee. In an important collaborative effort with a number of concerned agencies, including the Probate Courts and the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, the department contributed its expertise to a report on statutory changes necessary to comply with U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sells v. United States that resulted in the passage of Public Act 04-160.
The legal services provided to the Department of Social Services are wide ranging. They include providing assistance to social workers who are charged with implementing the Protective Services for the Elderly program. On a number of cases, we represented the Department in probate court to ensure that the elderly person was not subject to abuse and neglect and did, in fact, receive quality care. The most significant case in the program benefit area that was decided in the last fiscal year for the Department was Parkhurst v. the Department of Social Services. The Appellate Court in its decision affirmed the Department’s position that certain trust positions that were available for beneficiaries of Medicaid are not available under the State Supplemental Income Program.
Bankruptcy proceedings involving a great number of nursing homes involved both the Department of Public Health and the Department of Social Services. The Department of Public Health’s issues included ensuring that appropriate care continued and the Department of Social Services was concerned with the financial aspects of the proceedings. We represented both agencies in receiverships in state court and bankruptcy court in a number of locations. In the Pegasus Management Company receivership, five nursing homes were successfully transferred from receivership to new operators.
A great majority of the work in the Education area involves providing legal counsel to the various units of higher education. It includes ensuring that each of the units follows the applicable federal laws such as FERPA and Gramm-Leach-Bliley. A special effort was undertaken with the colleges and universities to improve the contracting process. On remand from the Supreme Court, the Superior Court again dismissed the case brought by plaintiffs testing the setting of per pupil costs by regional districts in Seymour v. Region 1 Board of Education, Et Al.
Workers' Compensation Department
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 also represents the Department of Labor’s Wage Enforcement Division, collecting unpaid wages due to Connecticut employees. 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 2,000 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 $137,538.46 for the Second Injury Fund and $523,640.53 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. In addition, the department collected $53,891.41 in unpaid wages for Connecticut employees.
The Office of the Attorney General pursues the development of equal employment opportunities through its affirmative action program. By the end of the fiscal year, 50.5 percent of the full-time attorney workforce consisted of women and minorities. Women and minorities comprised 65.3 percent of entry-level attorneys and 42.4 percent of middle and high-level attorneys.