Office of the Attorney General

 

 

 

 

 

At a Glance

 

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Attorney General

Established – 1897

Statutory authority – CGS Sections 3-124 to 3-131

Central office55 Elm Street,

            Hartford, CT  06106 

Average number of full-time employees – 340

Recurring General Fund operating expenses - $28.8 million

Revenues generated - $504,040,799

 

 

Mission

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.

 

Statutory Responsibility

     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 2006-2007 fiscal year:    $504,040,799

 

A.  Revenue Generated for General Fund                                      

Tobacco Settlement Fund Collections             $   97,803,485       

State Child Support Collections                        $   45,013,475       

Tax Collection                                                       $     6,610,974       

Health Care Fraud Recovery                               $     5,235,752       

Antitrust Fees, Costs and Restitution               $        930,134

Penalties for Environmental Violations            $     1,068,412       

Antitrust Civil Penalties                                       $     8,415,000       

Department of Social Services                           $     1,259,398       

Department of Administrative Services           $     7,003,146       

Consumer Protection Penalties & Fees            $        557,824       

Miscellaneous Collections                                 $     2,849,974    

Treasurer                                                               $        124,589       

Total Revenue for State's General Fund            $ 176,872,163       

                                                                                                               
B.  Revenue Generated for Special Funds                                        

                                                                                                                 

John Dempsey Hospital                                      $    443,847            

Second Injury Fund                                             $    274,642                                                                            

Worker’s Comp re State Employees                 $    524,176

Unpaid Wage and Unemployment Tax            $    644,337                                                                            

Total Revenue for Special Funds                      $ 1,887,002

 

C. Revenue Awarded or Paid to Individuals & Businesses        

Consumer Protection Restitution                      $   2,323,643

Antitrust Consumer Restitution                        $ 56,026,000

Environmental Remediation                               $      576,263

Charitable Trusts & Funds Recovered or

  Preserved for Charitable Purposes                  $   4,460,000

Consumer Health Insurance Restitution          $      922,926

Renters’ Security Deposits                                $        15,743

State Child Support Collections to

  Connecticut Families                                         $201,178,687

Restitution from Home Improvement

    Contractors                                                       $      553,372

Refunds for utility consumers                           $ 19,000,000

Enron related recoveries

  for CRRA and towns                                         $ 40,225,000

Total Revenue Generated for              

  Individuals & Businesses                                $325,281,634

 

TOTAL REVENUE ACHIEVED     $504,040,799

                                                                

Public Service

     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 2006-2007 the office generated approximately $504,040,799 million in revenue for the general fund, special state funds and for consumers.  The overall work completed by this office in fiscal year 2006-2007 is summarized as follows:

 

Court cases completed        16,912

Court cases pending           23,584

Legal documents                   

   Examined                              7,337    

Administrative                       

   Proceedings                       5,544

Appeals completed                    97

Appeals pending                     274

Formal opinions issued             22

               

 

Legislation

     The Attorney General advocates for consumers, the environment and other critical public issues.  During the 2007 General Assembly session, the Attorney General supported successful legislation to prohibit property and casualty insurers from requiring homeowners to install expensive hurricane shutters as a condition of insurance, to require all health insurers to use a standard definition of “medical necessity” in determining whether treatment is covered by health insurance, and to limit health insurers from denying coverage or terminating insurance policies based on preexisting conditions or statements contained in applications for health insurance.

     In addition, the Attorney General advocated for new laws requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraceptives to rape victims, restricting the use of non-compete clauses by employers and prohibiting disruptions at military funerals.  The Attorney General also sought legislation to reduce the cost of electricity to Connecticut’s residential consumers and businesses by giving the state greater control over electric generating resources and pricing, and by refunding windfall electric generator profits to consumers.

 

Health Care Fraud/Whistleblower

     The Healthcare Fraud/Whistleblower/Health Insurance Advocacy Department had an extremely busy, important and successful year.  The Whistleblower Unit completed several major investigations. 

     The Whistleblower Unit completed a joint investigation with the New York State Police into allegations of systemic corruption, favoritism and abuse by the Connecticut State Police in administering its Internal Affairs Unit.  In December 2006 a report of over 200 pages was released, documenting significant failures by CSP management to properly investigate allegations against troopers including domestic violence, drug use, sexual assault, falsifying overtime pay records and drunk driving.  The report made recommendations for sweeping changes to restore the public and the state troopers’ trust in the CSP Internal Affairs process.

     The Whistleblower Unit investigated allegations that the Connecticut State Police management had retaliated against a trooper, and failed to protect him from harassment because of his whistleblower activities in connection with the joint Attorney General-New York State Police investigation.  The report recommended corrective action to protect this trooper from harassment by educating the CSP of the valuable role that whistleblowers play in protecting the integrity and increasing the public’s confidence in the CSP organization.

     The Whistleblower Unit jointly investigated allegations of financial mismanagement at the Highville Mustard Seed Charter School and issued a 115-page report with the Auditors of Public Accounts and the Department of Education Office of Internal Audit.  The investigation and report documented severe financial mismanagement in the operation of the school and failures of governance by its Board of Directors.  The report made numerous recommendations for bringing the school and its Board into compliance with state law and to preserve the school as a vital resource to the community.

     The Health Care Advocacy Unit (“HCAU”) has continued to assist patients and their doctors by resolving disputes with managed care companies.  Systemic issues addressed during this fiscal year included denials of coverage for medically necessary care, retroactive termination of individual health care policies and denials of coverage for “pre-existing conditions” by companies underwriting and managing short-term health insurance policies.  With respect to the latter two concerns, the HCAU spearheaded an effort to investigate Assurant Health and its affiliates rescinding policies and denying coverage for conditions that Assurant had unfairly deemed pre-existing.  This effort has yielded significant legislative reform of this practice through the passage of P.A. 07-113, “An Act Concerning Post-claims Underwriting,” and the initiation of a full independent audit of all of Assurant’s pre-existing condition denials against short-term health insurance policyholders.  The HCAU has also worked closely with the Anti-Trust Department in its investigation of the standard setting practices of the Infectious Diseases Society of America pertaining specifically to its development and publication of guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.  The HCAU continued to work with the Child Advocate to ensure that children in this state receive the health care they require.  It has also helped consumers recover approximately one million dollars for illegally billed services and improperly denied claims.

     The Health Care Fraud Unit recovered over $7.8 million dollars, bringing the Unit’s total recoveries to more than over $57.8 million in ten years.  The majority of the dollars recovered this year came from settlements involving the pharmaceutical industry.

     The Department also prosecuted suits against several medical providers who were illegally billing Medicaid and commercially insured patients. 

     Finally, this Department continued its litigation efforts on behalf of the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority to recover the $220 million CRRA lost to Enron in 2001.  During this fiscal year, the Attorney General achieved settlements totaling $40,225,000; receiving $37,250,000 from CRRA’s two former law firms, Hawkins Delafield & Wood and Murtha Cullina, and $2,975,000 from three of Enron’s former law firms.  Overall, we have recovered $151 million for CRRA and its municipalities and we continue to pursue other defendants.

 

Antitrust

     The Antitrust Department's primary responsibility is to administer and enforce the Connecticut Antitrust Act, and has the authority to enforce major provisions of the federal antitrust laws.  The Department also relies on other federal and state laws, including the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, to ensure the Attorney General's overall responsibility to maintain open and competitive markets in Connecticut.  Utilizing these statutes, the Department investigates and prosecutes 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, the Attorney General served as the Chair of the Antitrust Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General and remains active within that organization. 

     During the past year the Department continued to build on the successes it has achieved over the last few years in industries that are vitally important to consumers.  The Department has conducted investigations, commenced legal action and obtained settlements in the insurance, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, among others, securing significant restitution for injured consumers, including state agencies, small businesses and individuals, and collecting a record amount in penalties for violations of Connecticut competition laws. 

     The Department continued its emphasis on investigating and prosecuting anticompetitive and illegal practices engaged in by insurance carriers and brokers.  The practices at issue: bid rigging, steering of business to preferred insurers in return for lucrative undisclosed compensation, and other anticompetitive and illegal behavior, have raised premiums for Connecticut citizens - - both individuals and corporations, as well as Connecticut municipalities and state agencies.  The work of the Attorney General's Antitrust Department in the past year resulted in significant restitution to Connecticut's consumers and record amounts of penalties collected for willful violations of Connecticut law. 

     The Attorney General entered into a $77 million settlement with The St. Paul Travelers Companies, Inc. for its role in a long-term scheme designed to rig bids and illegally steer business and allocate customers in exchange for making secret payments to brokers.   In addition to establishing a $37 million restitution pool for injured consumers both within Connecticut and the United States, The St. Paul Travelers also agreed to pay an $8 million penalty to the state, and agreed to implement a number of business reforms to ensure such conduct would never happen again.

     The Attorney General settled with another of The St. Paul Travelers' co-conspirators, the Chubb Corporation.  This settlement required Chubb to establish a $17 million fund to reimburse clients, including a number of Connecticut consumers, for its role in the illegal customer steering schemes it engaged in with other insurance carriers and brokers; and to pay the state of Connecticut $800,000 towards the cost of its investigation.  In addition to restitution, Chubb agreed to implement landmark business reforms, including a complete ban on paying contingent compensation to brokers - - a first in the nationwide insurance industry investigations. 

     The Attorney General also filed a lawsuit against Acordia, Inc., one of the nation's largest insurance brokerage firms.  The lawsuit alleges that Acordia engaged in a scheme to steer its clients to preferred insurers in exchange for receiving millions of dollars in secret payments.   The alleged scheme, which began in the late-1990s, raised insurance costs to Connecticut consumers whose premiums were increased to subsidize the illegal payments.  The complaint seeks restitution, penalties and other equitable relief. 

     Ensuring competitive markets in the healthcare industry is an ongoing priority of the Antitrust Department.  This last fiscal year saw additional enforcement actions by the office both on the national level and within the state.  The Attorney General entered into a settlement with HealthDrive, Inc., a Massachusetts-based company that contracts with long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, to provide audiologic, dental, podiatric and optometric services to their patients.  After an investigation, the Attorney General concluded that HealthDrive required nursing homes that obtained dental services from HealthDrive to also purchase at least one other healthcare service offered by the company.  Such practices are often referred to as "tying" arrangements because they condition the purchase of desirable product on the purchase of a less desirable product.  Under the settlement agreement, HealthDrive agreed to cease its tying practices and notify the facilities that purchased the less desirable (tied) product that they were free to terminate that service without any penalty.  On the national level, the Attorney General settled an investigation of the Healthcare Research and Development Institute, LLC ("HRDI") effectively disbanding an anticompetitive, exclusive "club" of healthcare industry vendors and CEOs from the nation's premier hospitals and healthcare institutions.  HRDI was a for-profit consulting company owned by leading and influential healthcare institution CEOs who provided "consulting" services to an exclusive list of vendors serving the healthcare industry, such as McKesson, Sodexho, MedAssets and Baxter.  The Attorney General's investigation uncovered evidence that vendors used their exclusive access to the CEOs, who wielded immense purchasing power within their respective hospitals, to gain a competitive advantage for their products to the detriment of their competitors.  The settlement agreement required HRDI to dissolve its organization and create a new one made up of only the CEOs, excluding any vendors or their representatives.  In addition, HRDI paid Connecticut $150,000.  The Department has several other ongoing investigations in the healthcare sector.

     This past year also saw the resolution of a significant 18-month investigation into illegal bid rigging by companies in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning ("HVAC") industry.  The Attorney General settled with B-G Mechanical Services, Inc. for its role in a long-term bid-rigging scheme perpetrated against Connecticut municipalities, agencies and private companies for the purchase of HVAC services.  B-G Mechanical agreed to pay $280,000 to settle allegations it orchestrated the scheme, and agreed to business reforms including the adoption of an antitrust compliance plan.  At the same time the B-G settlement was announced, the Attorney General also filed lawsuits against several individuals and companies involved in the scheme, including B-G's former president and two employees, the presidents of two of B-G's competitors and their respective companies.  The two B-G employees who took part in the conspiracy settled with the Attorney General with each paying a $15,000 penalty for their role.

     Competition advocacy remains a high priority within the Department.  In May, 2007, the Attorney General testified before a congressional committee investigating the high price of gasoline, proposing measures to rein in price increases including enacting a moratorium on oil industry mergers; outlawing "zone-pricing;" and implementing a windfall profits tax on oil companies to fund conservation and alternative fuels.  The Department continues to work with other state attorneys general and federal authorities on issues related to gasoline pricing.

     Illegal and anticompetitive business practices continue to resound throughout the Connecticut trash industry and the Department was involved in a review of Waste Management Inc.'s sale of assets as well as assisting the Attorney General in legislation he proposed to attack the influence of organized crime in the industry and other unfair business practices.  The Department continues to monitor for the Attorney General the competitive landscape in the hauling, disposal and recycling of solid waste, recyclables and construction and demolition debris.

 

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; investigations; appearances before state and federal agencies; and litigation under various state and federal laws with a major reliance on the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).

 

Consumer Education and Mediation

     As part of his core mission, the Attorney General continues his efforts to educate consumers on how to avoid scams and mediate disputes between consumers and those who sell or who offer to sell consumer’s goods or services.  This Department assists the Attorney General as he continues to issue consumer alerts about scams and dangerous products and to attend consumer education forums.  For example, the Attorney General hosted more than 200 delegates at the 5th Annual Connecticut Triad Conference at the Coast Guard Academy.  The Conference featured presentations from the FTC, FBI, Secret Service, and the Canadian PhoneBusters, among others.  The Conference focused on the internationalization of scams affecting the elderly.  The Attorney General will be hosting the 6th Annual Connecticut Triad Conference at Central Connecticut State University this fall.  As part of the Attorney General’s focus on consumer mediation, our Department, which consists of attorneys, volunteer advocates and other staff, responded to 5,008 consumer complaints during this fiscal year.  Over $1,293,972.18 was refunded or credited to Connecticut consumers due to the mediation efforts of the Department.

 

CUTPA Cases

     In June 2007, our office learned of allegations that certain types of light truck radial tires, manufactured in China, could be prone to tread separation and failure.  One importer of these tires, Foreign Tire Sales, Inc. of New Jersey, filed reports with the federal government detailing those defects and initiating the process for a recall.  Our office is leading a coalition of almost twenty states to investigate the allegations and to ensure that other companies, which may have imported these tires, take the proper steps to protect the health and safety of their consumers.

     Our Department obtained an injunction and sued Advanced Safety Solutions for selling illegal fire extinguishers, flame proofing material, and personal electronic safety devices (stun guns).  With the assistance and cooperation of our office, one of the company managers was prosecuted by the State’s Attorneys Office on related criminal charges.  Our office also brought suit against Best Buy for allegedly misrepresenting that in-store kiosks connected consumers to its internet website, BestBuy.com, when the kiosks actually connected consumers to an internal database that often contained higher prices.  The Attorney General alleges that many consumers were unable to avail themselves of Best Buy's Price Match policy and paid higher, in store prices for products advertised at a lower price on the website. 

     In addition, the Department is helping to investigate claims that Enviga, a green tea and caffeine drink, made by Coca-Cola, Nestle and Beverage Partnership Worldwide causes the body to burn up to 100 calories.  Our Department investigated the marketing of an energy drink under the name "Cocaine" by manufacturer Redux Beverages LLC.  The FDA stated that the product was an unapproved drug because it used the name of an illicit drug.  After an investigation by our Office, Redux entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (“AVC”) with the Department of Consumer Protection which barred Redux from selling the drink under the name “Cocaine” or any similar term and required that the company comply with the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Act in Connecticut.  Our office also filed a sovereign enforcement action against Valerie Hawk-Hoffman and her company (Sunrise Herbal) alleging that Valerie Hawk-Hoffman was automatically shipping herbal products to consumers without their authorization, billing consumer credit cards for the unauthorized shipments, and making it difficult for consumers to cancel the automatic shipment of those products.  We are also investigating claims that Valerie Hawk-Hoffman makes about her products.

     As part of a multi-state action, we served on the Executive Investigating/Negotiating Committee alleging that Bayer failed to adequately disclose side effects and drug interactions with the use of Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering drug.  The matter was settled pursuant to a Stipulated Judgment with significant injunctive provisions and a $600,000 payment to Connecticut as part of an $8 million national settlement.  We also served as an active member of a multi-state investigation alleging that Purdue engaged in the marketing and sale of OxyContin for an unapproved use, allegedly encouraged illicit diversion of the drug into the black market and failed to adequately disclose dangers of addiction.  The matter was settled pursuant to a Stipulated Judgment with significant injunctive provisions and a $720,000 payment to the State as part of a nationwide settlement.

 

     A Stipulated Judgment valued at $12.5 million was entered against Trilegiant Corporation and TRL Group, Inc. of Norwalk, CT as part of a multistate settlement.  Trilegiant sells memberships nationwide in various discount clubs which they market by partnering with other companies and sending direct mailings to the customers of these companies, e.g., car rental companies, hotel chains, credit card issuing banks, etc.  They were accused of misleading consumers by mailing checks purportedly as rewards for being loyal customers of the third party businesses but which actually signed consumers up for Trilegiant membership programs without their consent or knowledge.  Monthly or annual fees were then automatically charged to the consumer’s third party account or credit card.   Consumer restitution could reach $5 or $6 million nationwide with the balance of the payment as a monetary forfeiture to the states.  In addition, the judgment prohibits the use of certain deceptive terms used in these check solicitations and requires that clear and conspicuous disclosures be made in the solicitations and on the checks. 

     An AVC was entered into with Chase Bank USA and Chase Home Finance LLC (“Chase”) in a matter related to the Trilegiant case.  Chase was one of the businesses that entered into marketing agreements with Trilegiant to market membership based discount programs directly to Chase customers with Chase retaining final control and approval of the solicitation materials.  While Trilegiant partnered with a number of different companies, the states considered the marketing materials to Chase customers to be the most deceptive.  The monetary terms included a financial forfeiture to the states totaling $2 million with Connecticut’s share amounting to $175,000.  Of major significance is the fact that, for the first time under CUTPA, a national bank agreed that the AVC may be enforced by the State in state court and that it would not argue that it is preempted by federal banking laws or regulations. 

     A Stipulated Judgment was entered against YP Corp, an Internet directory services provider, and its subsidiary, Telco Billing, for another check solicitation scheme.  In this case, checks in small dollar amounts were mailed to businesses and nonprofit organizations without adequate disclosure that by depositing the checks, the business or organization was signing up to be listed in their Internet Yellow Page directory.  In this case, the accounts were billed through either a monthly charge on the business’ phone bill or an automatic monthly withdrawal from the business’ checking account.  In neither case were the charges clearly identified and in some instances the charges were paid for many months before the business realized that the charges were unauthorized.  YP Corp paid a monetary forfeiture to the states totaling $2 million. In addition, the company agreed to cease billing anyone that was signed up through one of the check solicitations until they contacted them in writing, advised them that they are currently being charged for this Internet Yellow Page listing and received an affirmative statement that they wanted to continue the service.  The company also agreed to stop using solicitation checks as a means of activating new accounts.

     We previously filed suit against Newtown Oil Company and its principals alleging the company failed to deliver pre-paid fuel oil to customers.  The case was settled pursuant to a Stipulated Judgment with strong injunctive provisions as well as $250,000 in consumer restitution and $10,000 in costs.  We also filed suit against Owl Oil Company alleging its use of a deceptive contract tricked consumers into signing a two-year agreement without price guarantees in the second year.  The case was settled pursuant to a Stipulated Judgment with injunctive provisions, $12,000 in restitution, and withdrawal of all claims the company filed against consumers, amounting to approximately $28,000.

     Our Department has filed suit against Joseph Barney, a Condominium Association Manager, who allegedly embezzled funds from a condo association and worked without a Condominium Association Manager's license.  The case was settled pursuant to a Stipulated Judgment with injunctive provisions, $18,000 in consumer restitution, and $2,000 in costs.  In State v. Sorensen, we filed a suit against the former president and manager of a cemetery for allegedly misusing and converting cemetery funds to his own use.  The case was settled pursuant to a Stipulated Judgment with injunctive provisions, $1,580 in restitution, and a $3,000 penalty.  In State v. Approved Mortgages, Inc., et al., we alleged that the defendants misled consumers regarding their ability to repay mortgage loans and misrepresented to lenders the income and assets of loan applicants.  We entered into a Stipulated Judgment with the defendants providing for a monetary forfeiture of $210,000.

     National Collector's Mint, which sells coins and commemorative memorabilia through TV ads, direct mail, and the Internet, guaranteed consumers who purchased coins the full purchase price of $19.90 per coin plus an additional $2.00 per coin if they returned them within 30 days.  However, the company failed to pay the guaranteed extra $2.00 per coin to 85% of the consumers who returned coins pursuant to this offer.  We settled the investigation with the company pursuant to an AVC that required corrective action by the company, consumer restitution, and the payment of $28,402 to the State.  In addition, our Department facilitated an AVC between the Department of Consumer Protection and Sony that provides compensation to consumers whose computers were damaged when they tried to remove anti-pirating software that company music CDs surreptitiously downloaded onto their hard drives.  Consumers are eligible for up to $175 each from Sony.  Sony also paid the states $4.25 million.

     In State v. NRS and Fred Acker, the defendants fraudulently obtained and disclosed consumers' personal financial information.  The Court ordered the defendants to pay Civil Penalties of $442,500 and disgorgement of $350,000.  The department’s matter against ChoicePoint involves the release of personally identifiable information to identity thieves by a data broker.  Our office worked with the Department of Consumer Protection to obtain an AVC from the company whereby ChoicePoint will pay $500,000 to the states.

     Popular Leasing U.S.A., Inc. ("PLUSA") is one of many finance companies that accepted assignments of equipment rental agreements from NorVergence, which targeted small businesses with false promises of savings on telecommunications services through the rental of a matrix box.  NorVergence was forced into bankruptcy in July 2004.  Subsequently, PLUSA and other finance companies pursued collection on the assigned equipment rental agreements.  We entered into an AVC with PLUSA, as part of a multi-state investigation.  PLUSA agreed to refund or not collect over $15 million nationwide to affected businesses.   The AVC provides that PLUSA will forgive 85% of amounts otherwise owed on rental agreements after July 15, 2004 (or provide refunds for amounts paid in excess of the 85%); and will forgive 80% (or provide refunds for amounts paid in excess of 80%) to previously settling customers.

     In State v. 4 Health Drugs, we alleged the defendants illegally sold "legend drugs" to Connecticut consumers via the Internet.  The Court ordered that the defendants pay $102,000 in civil penalties and disgorge profits of $36,753.61.

     A Stipulated Judgment was entered in a lawsuit against J.K. Harris Financial Recovery Systems, LLC (“JKHFRS”).  JKHFRS will pay the state $100,000 and provide full restitution to settle allegations that it sent consumers deceptive solicitations for debt resolution services. The company sent hundreds of consumers in New Haven, Meriden and elsewhere, letters alleging that a "judgment" had been "filed" against them by a municipality in a court of law for nonpayment of an unspecified debt. The letters, stamped "Final Notice," offered assistance in resolving the supposed court cases and paying off the debts.  In many instances, there was no court case, let alone a judgment or debt.  The State entered into a Stipulated Judgment with ABC Alarm Company and the principals who operate the company.  Pursuant to the Judgment, ABC Alarm and owners Anthony Perrotti of Woodbridge and Francis J. Guarino of Branford, will pay $100,000 in restitution to consumers and forfeit another $125,000 to the State.   Perrotti and Guarino also agreed to numerous restrictions on ABC Alarm’s business activities, including honoring all requests to terminate contracts, giving the State final say in billing disputes, informing the State within five days of any consumer complaint, refund request or refusal to pay, and allowing the state to inspect its records for a decade.

     Intertown Realty Company ("Intertown") which manages about 420 apartments in the Hartford area, advertised its apartment units as “heat and hot water included.”  When the price of heating fuel increased, however, it levied "heating surcharges" on its tenants.  We prosecuted Intertown for violating CUTPA regulations that specify that “when an offer is made in an advertisement and there is a material contingency, condition or limitation on the offer, it shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice to fail to conspicuously state such contingency, condition or limitation reasonably adjacent to the offer.”  We ultimately settled the action when Intertown agreed to reimburse all tenants, past and present, for every dollar in heating surcharges that it collected; pay the State a civil penalty of $120,000 (equal to the total amount in heating surcharges collected); and never again assess a heating surcharge upon its tenants.

     Luke Zinsky, Jr. and his company Leeh Enterprises bought and sold recycled and scrap plastics.  They failed to deliver goods as promised, delivered the wrong goods, or failed to pay for goods received.  We investigated complaints from seven individuals whose claims provided the basis for an order of restitution from the court in the amount of $28,671.  The court also awarded civil penalties in the amount of $115,000 and injunctive relief.  In another matter, Global Marketing, Ltd. and Dennis Drummond, who were based in Massachusetts, came into Connecticut to buy and sell timeshares. They would lure timeshare owners into meeting with them by misrepresenting the purpose of the meetings.  In consummating the sales, the defendants, who were not licensed real estate brokers or salespersons, misrepresented material facts to consumers, used contracts that failed to include required provisions, and generally disregarded Connecticut laws related to sales of real estate.  The Court awarded $105,000.00 in civil penalties and injunctive relief.

     We have settled with 13 different gasoline retailers, for a total value of almost $59,743.  The retailers agreed to the settlements after we found evidence of price gouging during the abnormal market conditions immediately following Hurricane Katrina.  The stations agreed to forfeit the alleged excess profits they made and to comply with laws prohibiting unconscionably excessive prices during abnormal market disruptions or anticipated disruptions.

 

Home Improvement Contactors

     The Office remains active in criminally prosecuting unscrupulous home improvement contractors and unlicensed real estate brokers and agents, accepting 141 cases this year for prosecution, which resulted in $553,372.54 in court-ordered restitution to victims.

 

Utility Cases

     The Attorney General actively participates in utility company rates cases and other proceedings that affect utility company consumers and the state’s economy.  The Attorney General joined with the Massachusetts Attorney General to appeal the FERC's approval of a new forward capacity market for New England because reliability determinations are exclusively state and local issues.  Moreover, FERC had agreed that consumers should pay nearly $5 billion in illegal "transition payments" - or subsidies to generators that serve no regulatory purpose.  If successful, Connecticut ratepayers will save $800 million from these illegal payments alone.  Additionally, the Attorney General successfully opposed Bridgeport Energy receiving guaranteed payments for its 500 MW gas fired electric plant in Bridgeport.  Bridgeport agreed to $12.5 million in refunds to customers and an immediate termination of a ratepayer obligation to pay Bridgeport as much as $50 million a year.

 

     The Attorney General petitioned the DPUC to open an investigation of the Connecticut Light and Power Company's plant, management and operations in the wake of three explosions and fires in the company's underground plant in Waterbury and similar recent events in Stamford and Meriden.  This investigation revealed that certain types of CL&P's underground secondary conductors, known as "Type B" networks, have proven to be faulty and prone to failure and possible explosion.  The Type B networks are used in ten municipalities in Connecticut; Greenwich, Waterbury, New Britain, Meriden, Norwalk, New Canaan, Westport, Bristol, Naugatuck and Willimantic.  As a result of this investigation, the DPUC ordered CL&P to implement a five-year program to remove and replace all of the Type B networks in CL&P's service territory.  Additionally, our Office began an investigation into the billing practices of Dominion Retail, Inc, an electrical supplier providing service to approximately 35,000 Connecticut consumers.  In early 2006, we began receiving complaints from Dominion customers about the company’s billing practices.    Dominion claimed that the complaints were simply the result of its adjustment of its rates to correspond to a rate increase granted to CL&P by the Department of Public Utility Control.  We determined, however, that in January 2006, Dominion unilaterally changed its billing practices to impose its rate increase several weeks earlier than in previous years.  As a result, its customers were billed for their December 2005 usage at the much higher 2006 rates.  We concluded that Dominion’s actions were in violation of its express representation that its customers would always pay less for electrical service from Dominion than they would from CL&P.  In November 2006, Dominion entered into an AVC whereby it agreed to refund $500,000 to its customers and to make a $200,000 payment to the State.

 

Child Protection Department

     The Child Protection Department of the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for representing the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) in state and federal court proceedings brought on behalf of abused and neglected children. The Child Protection Department appears regularly in all sixteen juvenile courts around the state, as well as in federal court and before the state appeals courts.    In addition, the Child Protection Department defends DCF in all administrative appeals to the superior court.

     This past year, the department resolved a pending federal class action lawsuit, W.R. v. D.C.F., Civ. No. 302CV429, involving mental health services provided to children in the state’s care.  The plaintiffs in that action claimed that DCF failed to provide community-based mental health services and treatment to mentally ill children in the state’s care.  The parties reached a settlement agreement, which runs over a three-year period and has been approved by the General Assembly.  Under the agreement, significant additional resources will be made available to maintain mentally ill children in their homes and communities, with no continuing federal court involvement.

     The department also successfully filed and defended a number of appeals to the Appellate Court this year. In re Rachel J., 97 Conn. App. 478 (2006) the Appellate Court agreed that parental rights could be terminated based on serious physical injury, after a mother had flung her child against the floor causing a severe fracture, and then hid the child from DCF and delayed getting the child medical treatment for several days. The mother claimed that the criminal law definitions for serious injuries should have been applied but the Appellate Court disagreed, concluding that common dictionary definitions supported the trial court’s finding that the child had suffered serious physical injuries, warranting termination of parental rights.

     In re Christina M., 280 Conn. App. 474 (2006) the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision terminating parental rights, despite the parents’ claim that their children’s attorney had a conflict of interest by agreeing with DCF that parental rights should be terminated, instead of  advocating for their expressed wishes.  The Supreme Court concluded that while the parents had standing to raise questions about their children’s legal representation, in this case, the trial court had no duty to appoint new independent counsel for them, as there was no evidence that their court-appointed attorney had any conflict in representing them.   The Court explained the dual roles of attorneys representing children who also serve as guardians ad litem for such children.

     In Nasia B. 98 Conn. App. 319 (2006) the department successfully overturned a decision from a trial court dismissing a termination petition and revoking commitment.  The Appellate Court ruled that the department had presented prima facie evidence that the parents had failed to rehabilitate and therefore the trial court had no legal basis to dismiss the case.  The Appellate Court also found that because there had been no motion pending to revoke commitment, the trial court erred in revoking commitment on its own.  Since the decision, the case was retried and parental rights were terminated.

     Finally, in re Nelmarie O., 97 Conn. App. 624 (2006), the Appellate Court upheld a decision terminating parental rights when a mother had allowed one of her children to be severely beaten to death.   The Appellate Court found that the termination could be based on the mother’s failure to provide for her children’s emotional well-being, because the surviving siblings were traumatized by their brother’s treatment.   The court also agreed with the department that post-petition evidence obtained after the filing of the termination petition, but concerning incidents that occurred before the filing of the petition, could be considered as part of the adjudicatory stage of proceedings.

 

Environmental Department

     This year, as in the past several years, we continued our battle against Midwest power plants for their violations of the Clean Air Act, which impair the quality of the air the citizens of Connecticut breathe.  Our litigation against American Electric Power Company, Allegheny Energy and Cinergy for Clean Air Act violations from their coal fired plants continues in the United States District Courts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana. These cases consume a large portion of the department’s resources.

     We continued our efforts to combat global warming this past year.  Along with several other states, we obtained a landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  We successfully argued that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) was wrong to conclude that it did not have authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate pollutants that cause global warming.  The Supreme Court ruled that EPA had to apply the Clean Air Act to greenhouse gases. 

     We also continued our efforts to protect Long Island Sound.  We defended the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) in an appeal to the Second Circuit by Islander East of DEP’s decision to deny a water quality certification for a gas pipeline through the Thimble Island area.

     We received a very important decision from the Connecticut Supreme Court this past year that will provide a powerful deterrent against environmental law violations.  In Celentano v. Rocque, the Supreme Court ruled that the responsible corporate office doctrine, holding some corporate officers personally responsible for violations of the corporation, applied to all strict liability public welfare offenses, thereby expanding the breadth of the doctrine. 

     We also continue to protect and enforce development rights acquired by the Department of Agriculture (“DOA”) through its Farmland Preservation Program.  In the Landis litigation, we obtained a court order preventing the development of a farm into a golf course.  The DOA had paid a now deceased farmer a substantial sum to acquire the development rights to the farm, but his heirs disputed the limitations contained in the farmland use restrictions.  The court ruled that the farm could not be developed as a golf course. 

     This year we obtained an important victory protecting the purity of our water.  In Riverkeeper v. EPA, we joined a coalition of states and environmental organizations in challenging EPA’s Phase II rule applicable to discharges from large, existing power plants.  We argued that the rule was not stringent enough in protecting aquatic organisms.  The Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with us and struck down the rule. 

     We received a temporary injunction and a prejudgment remedy against Joseph Cammarota and related companies for operation of a solid waste facility without a permit.  The court ordered the illegal activity to immediately cease, and permitted us to place a prejudgment lien on the property to secure clean up and a penalty. 

     In our representation of the Department of Agriculture, we continued to save abused or neglected animals, including livestock as well as domestic animals.  We obtained several orders to seize animals that were being abused or neglected.

     This past year we began providing property law advice and assistance to the DOA in its acquisition of farmland development rights. Our assistance permitted the DOA to preserve hundreds of acres of farmland.

     In the area of enforcement of Connecticut’s solid waste laws, the office continued its successful efforts in prosecuting vehicle forfeiture cases where vehicles used in the illegal dumping of solid waste are seized by municipal police departments.  This year several polluters caught dumping solid waste had their vehicles forfeited to the towns where the illegal dumping occurred.

     Our representation of the Department of Environmental Protection in bankruptcy proceedings continues to prevent polluters from avoiding their environmental liability by abandoning polluted property through the Bankruptcy Court.

     In addition to all of the above, we continue to provide a full range of legal services to both DEP and DOA including contract review, opinions, the defense of Claims Commissioner matters, legal 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, and the Office of Policy and Management. Legal issues involving state regulation of the finance services industries form a major part of this department’s work.

     Predatory lending and illegal lending practices, particularly in the sub prime mortgage market, have been particular concerns for this Department.  Sub prime mortgage lending involves borrowers whose credit is impaired and who may not have the means to make their mortgage payments.  The sub prime lending industry has expanded dramatically in the last decade and with it has come serious abuses and deceptive practices.  This office continues to combat predatory lending practices, in which consumers are often unknowingly enticed into purchasing high cost, high fee loans that they later cannot repay or refinance. In addition to these broad based investigations and lawsuits, the department routinely assists individual consumers with complaints against banks and mortgage companies, often informally mediating a resolution of payment disputes and other mortgage issues.  This has become a particularly pressing area, as borrowers, enticed by initial low “teaser” interest rates, have seen their adjustable rate mortgages increase sharply, often forcing them into foreclosure and the loss of their homes.  This Department attempts to assist these borrowers at a time when they are under serious stress and lack the ability to obtain private legal assistance.

     This Department works closely with the agencies it represents in investigating and prosecuting unfair and illegal practices in other areas as well.  In particular, this Department has been involved in several significant join investigations with the Insurance Department.  Attorneys in this Department also assist the Department of Economic and Community Development, particularly in pursuit of persons and companies that have defaulted on economic development loans and grants.  Similarly, this Department represents the Department of Revenue Services in appeals to the state appellate and supreme courts.

     This Department is responsible for enforcement of the master settlement agreement between the states, including Connecticut, and various participating tobacco product manufacturers. In addition to ensuring that Connecticut receives the monetary payments it is owed by tobacco manufacturers, department staff has taken legal actions against tobacco companies that market their products to youth or engage in other unfair advertising practices.

     This Department also represents the Department of Public Utility Control and the Connecticut Siting Council in all legal matters at the state and federal level, including representing the State’s interests in matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that have a significant impact on the rates paid by Connecticut consumers.

 

Child Support & Collections

     The mission of the Collections/Child Support Department is to expeditiously recover monies due to the State and to secure the establishment of orders for the support of children.  Its major client agencies are the Department of Administrative Services Financial Services Center in matters involving the recovery of reimbursable public assistance benefits and the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement within the Department of Social Services in the establishment of child support orders.  Department staff also provide a full range of litigation collection services for debts other than child support owed to 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, the Secretary of State, the State Elections Commission and various other state agencies, boards and commissions on a case-by-case basis as well as providing legal services in connection with the actual enforcement of child support orders at the request of the Support Enforcement Services division of the Judicial Branch.

     In fiscal year 2006-2007 Department attorneys recovered cash payments on debts owed to the State in excess of 18 million dollars.

     Child support establishment activities traditionally produce large caseloads.  In fiscal 2006-2007, nearly 11,000 cases were opened in all categories and nearly 7,500 files were closed during the period.

     Department attorneys were engaged in a wide variety of litigation activities, won important judicial victories and recovered significant sums on behalf of taxpayers and state agencies during the year.  A member of the Department was assigned to assist the Office of the Secretary of the State on a significant number of cases in which foreign corporations doing business in this state had failed to register and pay the required fee.  Through his efforts we recovered in excess of 1.7 million dollars in unpaid fees, penalties and interest.  In the Total Times, LLC bankruptcy matter, a Department attorney successfully defended the state against an adversary proceeding initiated by the Trustee seeking an injunction that would have barred the Department of Revenue Services from collecting taxes owed by Total Time clients and would have forced the agency to pay the Trustee all taxes it had already collected.  The state’s submission in opposition caused the Trustee to withdraw the proceeding.  Another attorney in the Department opposed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan offered by Delta Airlines that would have cost the state an immediate recovery of $550,000.00.  Her opposition was sustained and monies due to the State were collected.  In the Estate of Tamkun, a Department attorney successfully recovered more than $410,000.00 in costs incurred for the decedent’s care at Connecticut Valley Hospital.  In the Estate of Faier, another Department attorney successfully recovered over $775,000.00 in costs of a child’s care incurred by the Department of Children and Families.  In State v. DeFelice, a Department attorney collected nearly $350,000.00 from the debtor’s insurer and brought an action to recover more that $900,000.00 that remained due and owing to the Department of Public Safety.  In the Daticon bankruptcy proceeding a Department attorney successfully recovered 1.1 million dollars on behalf of the Department of Revenue Services and more than $610,000.00 for the Department of Labor.

     The child support work of the Department is characterized by the customary high volume of cases as well as a new assignment generated by a change in law.  In 2006 the General Assembly enacted laws which, for the first time, make the Attorney General a party to Probate Court proceedings involving termination of parental rights, emancipation of a minor and paternity claims by putative fathers where the child involved in the proceeding is or was a beneficiary of public assistance or received child support enforcement services from the State of Connecticut.  This new responsibility has resulted in approximately sixty new files per month, each requiring examination and one or more court appearances in the various probate Courts across the state along with appeals from adverse rulings of the Probate Court as required.        

 

Employment Rights

     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 more than 200 complaints before the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

     During the past year, the department defended state agencies in several significant cases.  We successfully defended a legal challenge to the Police Officer Standards and Training Council’s authority to require that police officers who laterally transfer to another municipality meet certain physical fitness standards.  We are involved in defending a similar case that challenges the validity of the physical fitness test administered to candidates for the position of correction officer.

     In addition, we prevailed in numerous other cases in the state and federal courts.  Significantly, we were able to obtain favorable rulings on 16 summary judgment motions, eliminating the need for trials in those cases.  We also obtained partial summary judgment rulings in 10 other cases and filed an additional 19 such motions, which are pending before the courts.  We obtained verdicts for the state defendants in four cases that were tried to juries and two cases that were tried in the Office of Public Hearings at the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.  We are awaiting a ruling on another case that was tried to a judge of the Superior Court.  In several other cases, we were able to achieve settlements on terms that were favorable to the state, saving the state millions of dollars.  We routinely appear on behalf of state agencies before the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities at fact-finding sessions and public hearings. 

     We also successfully defended several appeals during the past year.  We obtained favorable rulings from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in six such appeals.  In addition, we are awaiting rulings in five other cases that we argued in the state and federal appellate courts.  Several of those appeals involve lawsuits that were brought by state employees against co-workers who had reported misconduct and/or participated in internal investigations that were conducted by state agencies.  In these cases, we are arguing that workers who come forward to report misconduct or incidents of violence or threatened violence in the workplace are entitled to absolute immunity from suit, preserving the willingness of employees to come forward and report such incidents or to cooperate in investigations being conducted by the employer. 

     The department continued to work with the Department of Correction in two lawsuits brought by several female correction officers who alleged that they were subject to sexual harassment at work.  We assisted the DOC in successfully implementing the terms of a stipulated agreement that make improvements in the manner in which DOC deals with sexual harassment complaints made by its employees.  In addition, we were able to reach an agreement that resolved all of the claims of the female employees in one of the cases.  We continue to represent the DOC in the other case. 

     The department regularly provides legal advice and counsel to state agencies on a variety of employment matters, as employment law is a rapidly evolving area of the law.  During the past year we participated in several training sessions and seminars for state employees on employment related issues.  For example, we assisted the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in training employees who have been designated to represent their agencies in discrimination complaints filed with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. In addition, we provided training to new state managers through a program provided by the Department of Administrative Services.  We also provided training to first line law enforcement supervisors through the Police Officer Standards and Training Council and made a presentation to top managers in the Connecticut State Police regarding retaliation claims. 

 

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 Department Emergency Management and Homeland Security, 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 and Paroles, Police Officer Standards and Training Council, the State Marshal Commission, Office of Victim Services and the Gaming Policy Board.

 

Department of Correction/Board of Pardons and Paroles  

     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 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.

     We continue to defend numerous challenges involving conditions of confinement and the application of the "good time" statutes to multiple sentences. We settled the case of Lorenzo Foreman v. State of Connecticut, et al.  The case involved a class action brought on behalf of persons arrested for non-violent, non-drug related misdemeanor offenses or any civil contempt, who were strip searched without reasonable suspicion when admitted to the New Haven Community Correctional Center. Under the terms of the settlement significant reforms were made and a substantial portion of the amount paid to the plaintiff class members was returned to the state to pay for costs of incarceration and child support.

     We have been assisting the Board of Pardons and Paroles in developing and adopting regulations necessary for the functioning of the Board. In particular, we have helped the Board draft appropriate regulations for an administrative pardons process and for revocation and rescission of parole.  In addition, we have provided the Board with training on legal issues involving its hearing procedures.

           

Department of Public Safety

     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 grow.  In the past year, we successfully litigated a number of cases in federal court and received many favorable decisions.

     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 and review contracts and regulations for the department.

 

Division of Special Revenue

     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 continue to monitor and review permissible activities under the Gaming Compacts with the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. We are also actively involved in monitoring and commenting on federal legislation regarding Internet gambling.

 

Liquor Control Division

     During the past year, we 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.

 

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 Office of State Ethics, 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, the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission and the Office of the Chief Child Protection Attorney.  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, 8,900 charities, and 76 professional fundraisers are registered with the State.  Of the $10.9 million donated to professional telephone solicitors for charitable organizations in 2005, only $3.78 million, or 34.45 % 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 appeals by Indian groups from denials of tribal recognition by 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 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 Islander East natural gas pipeline and the Broadwater Gas Terminal.  Additionally, the Department has been involved in several court and administrative proceedings related to nuclear safety issues regarding both the Millstone Power Station and the Indian Point Nuclear Facility located in Buchanan, New York, which is within eleven miles of Fairfield County.  Furthermore, the Department has been active in representing the interests of the State in regard to major regional energy projects such as the proposed Iroquois Market Access and Northeast 2008/2009 Pipeline and Compressor Station projects.

     The Department has represented the State’s interest in a number of important cases including: (1) Defended the State’s interests in an action by the former Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court to quash a subpoena issued by the Co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee seeking his testimony concerning the withholding of a decision for an improper purpose which interfered with the Legislature’s constitutional Appointment power.  (2) Defended the State’s interest in an action challenging the constitutionality of the newly enacted Campaign Finance Law in federal court.  (3) Favorably resolved a federal court action it brought against the United States Secretary of the Department of Defense and the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to prohibit them from reorganizing the 103rd Fighter Wing of the Connecticut Air National Guard and removing all Air Force planes from Connecticut, leaving Connecticut as the only state in the Nation without an Air Force or Air National Guard aircraft, depriving the State of valuable homeland security and civil emergency response resources.  As a result of this lawsuit, the State and federal government entered into an agreement that preserved the flying mission of the Air National Guard base and saved 400 jobs.  (4) The Department continues to prosecute a first of its kind lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the State of Connecticut and the Legislature against the decision of the United States Secretary of the Department of Education to impose unfunded mandates relating to the No Child Left Behind Act despite the Act’s Clear prohibition on imposing education requirements on the State without providing adequate funding to pay for them.  (5) Defended an action seeking to declare Connecticut’s marriage laws unconstitutional.  (6) Represented the Office of the HealthCare Advocate and the Comptroller in litigation seeking to guarantee the public's right of access to records concerning the State's $750 million Medicaid managed care program.  The Department obtained a ruling from the trial court that such records are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.  That ruling is currently on appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court.  (7) Defended an action challenging the constitutionality of a state law prohibiting inactivity fees and expiration dates on gift cards.  (8) Defended the constitutionality of a state law regulating tax preparation services that offer tax refund anticipation loans.

     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 United States Supreme Court and 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, Central Connecticut State University System, and all other agencies that have an educational function.  It also represents the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, 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 include receivership actions for the 3030 CCRC and 3030 nursing home, Essex RCH, and Westside Care Center.  One receivership was brought for the Department of Mental Retardation.

     There were many licensing actions in the day care area which resulted in the collection of civil penalties and fines for operating without a license or for failing to maintain state standards.  We have assisted the Department of Public Health in investigating violations of standards with respect to the asbestos and lead regulations and have worked with the Department in obtaining consent orders in a variety of areas, including day care and youth camps, e.g., P.L.A.C.E.S., Little Leprechauns, and Calloway House.  Drinking water enforcement was another critical area.  Significant resources were committed to individual licensing actions of various types.  Some of the licensing action resulted in litigation, such as Henderson v. DPH, involving the revocation of a social worker’s license.

A new area involving the Health Department concerned the implementation of the State’s stem cell research funding initiative of $20,000,000.  We provided counsel throughout the deliberations of the Committee.  Also, the Advance Directive booklet was updated to reflect significant revisions to the law.

     The Department of Social Services was involved with significant litigation this year.  These cases occurred at the administrative level, in probate court proceedings, and in the Superior Court.  Many case issues involved eligibility and the transfer of assets.

     The office assisted the Department of Social Services in negotiating a comprehensive settlement agreement in Raymond v. Rowland, et al., No. 3:03CV0118 (MRK).  Raymond is a class action lawsuit alleging that the Department fails to administer its assistance programs in a manner that accommodates the needs of disabled persons, resulting in individuals being improperly denied assistance due to the lack of accommodations in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The case was settled under terms which require the agency to adopt amended non-discrimination policies, revise its forms and notices, provide increased staff training, and revise its administrative practices in a manner that will allow applicants to obtain assistance more readily.  The legislature approved the proposed settlement, which is currently pending in the District Court for a “fairness hearing”.

     There were numerous circumstances when we provided assistance to DSS Protective Services for the Elderly and the Ombudsman’s Office with respect to issues of exploitation of the elderly and the care that they received.  An example is In Re John Burke in which a son was removed as conservator upon motion to the Department.

 

     We had a number of significant Psychiatric Security Review Board cases.  Two were Roy Sastrom v. PSRB , 100 Conn. App. 212 (2007) and Guy Levine v. PSRB, 100 Conn. App. 224 (2007) in which the Appellate Court held that C.G.S. § 4-176(h) does not afford a basis for jurisdiction over an administrative appeal where there exists a specific statutory provision prohibiting an appeal under C.G.S. § 4-183. 

     The Department provided invaluable service to the Connecticut State University in a multitude of areas.  This included, but was not limited to, risk management, ethics, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, due process, FERPA, FOIA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, DMCA, IT security issues, bid and contracting issues, real estate transactions (including leasing), facilities use, construction disputes, employment and labor issues, student and employee discrimination claims, student life and academic issues (both domestically and abroad), SEVIS, the Cleary Act, criminal background checks (employee and student), admission and tuition issues, and immigration and visa issues.  The Department assisted the System with the negotiation, preparation and revision of contracts, including, but not limited to, interagency agreements, program affiliation agreements (both domestic and international), grant agreements, IT and telecommunications agreements, leases and easements, and food service contracts. 

     Some specific areas in which advice was provided were:

Revised the System’s surplus property procedures and forms, Security Council procedures, disbursement authorization procedures, and network access policy, and Board of Trustees’ policies regarding review, use, and dissemination of sensitive and/or confidential information, and obtaining advice of counsel; Drafted a notice to CSUS students regarding the anticipated issuance of RIAA settlement letters and preservation notices, involuntary withdrawal procedures, and a memorandum to the Auditors of Public Accounts regarding confidential documents; Drafted a revenue sharing agreement with the Board of Education and Services for the Blind; Prepared various memoranda for members of the  Board, on subjects including CALEA, and the acceptance of donations.

     The heart of the representation provided to the University of Connecticut at its Storrs location is counseling senior personnel on the myriad of issues that arise.  This includes proactive involvement in a variety of areas to lessen the risk of liability for the University, i.e., students’ activities and personnel actions involving University employees.  On a regular basis the Storrs Office reviews leases and contracts and all other types of legal documents.  In addition to this service at Storrs, the members of the Department at the Storrs location provide the same counsel to the various University branches located throughout the state.  An example of the type of representation provided includes the negotiation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office with respect to the University’s accounting for federal grants.  When litigation occurs, the Storrs Office represents the University both before the Claims Commission and the various courts.  Many of the issues that arise at the University include the application of the Student University Code and University Bylaws, Federal Education Rights, and the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act.  The University Department of Athletics presented its own issues that required our involvement and counsel.

     With respect to the University of Connecticut Health Center, our ongoing counseling relative to the day-to-day operations of an academic health center with a three-quarter of a billion dollar budget is challenging and varied.  Over the past year we provided advice relative to the Health center’s expanding compliance program which required interpretations of both state and federal law.  One occasion was OIG re John Dempsey Hospital (JDH).  JDH errors in billing of injections and the drug Herceptin resulted in settlement negotiations with the Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services, after extensive investigation.  We were successful in limiting the damage award to $475,278 and convincing the OIC to impose only a three-year Certification of Compliance Agreement rather than the initial proposed five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement, saving JDH hundreds of thousands of dollars.  We are also actively involved in human subjects research issues, medical treatment issues, probate hearings relative to the John Dempsey Hospital’s two locked psychiatric wards, lease and contract negotiations, and appearances at various administrative hearings, including the CHRO, Claims Commissioner and the Freedom of Information Commission. 

     The Department of Higher Education with new legislation sought our advice on numerous occasions and requested assistance in enforcing its licensing provisions for both colleges and proprietary schools.  Of significance is the lawsuit brought on behalf of the Department against Nurse Crews in conjunction with the Department of Consumer Protection.  We have sought restitution of tuition funds submitted by students to this school, which operated without a license.  There were a number of enforcement actions brought before the Board of Governors for Higher Education.

     There were significant issues that had to be dealt with involving the State Department of Education, including the Sheff v. O’Neill settlement.  A class action brought by Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding and various student plaintiffs against state officials on behalf of all children ages three to eighteen seeking equality or parity in education outcomes and student achievement through the school district via greater state funding remains pending. 

     Our counseling role with respect to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services was predominant in this fiscal year.  Examples include assisting DMHAS in completing a MOU between Public Safety, DMHAS, Judicial and the FBI concerning Provision of Data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and in responding to bills proposing significant revision of conservatorship statutes.  We provided advice to the agency in a variety of areas, including the administration of medications, and issues concerning the appropriate party to act on behalf of patients at CVH.  This included representation of the Department in a probate court hearing, In Re T.S., in which a conservator was appointed upon the Department’s motion.  We represented DMHAS in a probate court application in which a conservator was appointed for a CVH patient to override a durable power of attorney held by the patient’s siblings, who had not acted in patient’s best interest in terms of receiving recommended treatment.  It took several months to plan a course of action, document the necessary facts and present the case to the probate court.  There continues to be litigation brought by pro see patients which requires a significant allocation of resource

     During the past year this office continued to provide CHRO with legal services relating to, contracts, regulations, opinions, administrative hearings and appeals, reconsideration decisions, and litigation. With respect to litigation this office has been working on three employment discrimination suits filed against the agency - Brown v. CHRO (our Summary Judgment motion is pending in federal district court), Richardson v. CHRO (pending in the Second Circuit), and Assegai v. CHRO (pending plaintiff's petition to the US Supreme Court). In addition, we are working on a variety of personnel actions such as whistleblower retaliation complaints, managerial and union grievances, EEOC complaints, internal affirmative action complaints, FOI complaints, and workplace violence complaints. 

     As the foregoing illustrates, the Health & Education Department provides wide-ranging legal services to over 40 agencies.  The Department works hard to maintain an excellent relationship with all these agencies and through proactive counseling is able to avoid unnecessary litigation.

 

Workers' Compensation Department

     The Workers’ Compensation and Labor 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 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 3500 hearings before workers’ compensation commissioners, and in well over 150 new unemployment compensation cases in the Superior Court.

     In addition, department attorneys and paralegals were responsible for recouping $29,450.19 for the Second Injury Fund and $524,176.18 for the State of Connecticut through third party interventions.  This money represents a reimbursement to the state or Second Injury Fund for the money which has been paid out in workers’ compensation benefits for injuries caused by a third party.   Finally, department attorneys were responsible for the collection of $290,911.19 in unpaid wages for Connecticut employees.  This recovery goes directly to the Connecticut employees whose employers failed to pay them in accordance with Connecticut’s labor laws.

 

Torts/Civil Rights

     The Torts/Civil Rights Department defends state agencies and employees in tort and tort-like civil rights actions, including high exposure personal injury and wrongful death actions.  A substantial number of cases arise from alleged injuries at the state educational facilities, such as the vocational high schools and state colleges, and allegations involving children in the care of the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”).  The origin of the remainder of cases is spread among many agencies, including the state mental health and mental retardation programs.  Many of these cases seek large sums in damages from state coffers. 

     Department attorneys have saved the State millions of dollars by obtaining favorable judgments or settlements for the State in the courts and at the Claims Commission.  In addition, in the past year we obtained some important legal decisions.  In Kinney v. State, the court held that a Special Act allowing suit against the State in a wrongful death action lacked a public purpose.  The U.S. District Court granted our motion for summary judgment in a civil rights takings case, Leone v. Whitford and greatly reduced the requested attorneys fees in Lillbask v. State.  In Claim of Da Silva, the Claims Commissioner held that where the foster parents were properly trained, the State was not responsible when they unreasonably allowed the child access to fireworks.  Good settlements were also reached in various personal injury cases

     When any dangerous condition or practice is revealed during our representation, the Department advises agencies regarding the need for physical or policy changes to increase safety.

 

Transportation

     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"); the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) real property matters, 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, DAS and all other state agencies including the Joint Committee on Legislative Management (“JCLM”), the administrative arm of the General Assembly, and the State Contracting Standards Board on public contracting issues.  Other legal assistance is provided in the resolution of bid protests, the interpretation of contract language, and other problems that eventually arise during the course of large construction and statewide procurement projects. 

     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 noteworthy.

     As a result of a sinkhole suddenly appearing in the winter of 2006 on I-84, the DOT investigated and uncovered a massive drainage system failure – missing pipes, wrong-sized pipes, wrong material pipes, damaged catch basins, improperly installed catch basins, among other egregious construction deficiencies.  As a result, this Department brought suit against the contractor, L.G. Defelice, some of L. G. Defelice’s officers, directors, and employees; the inspector on the project, The Maguire Company, and some of its officers, inspectors and employees.  A settlement was reached with the bonding company on the project, recovering $17.5 million dollars.   The DOT and this Department are continuing to investigate and will name other defendants where appropriate.  

     Notwithstanding a favorable arbitration ruling which was confirmed by the Court on the $90 million White Oak claim for the construction of the Tomlinson Bridge ordering White Oak to pay the State over $1.1 million dollars, White Oak has filed a new Demand for Arbitration which DOT unsuccessfully sought to enjoin.  This unfavorable ruling is pending before the Connecticut Supreme Court.  White Oak's $50 million claim on DOT’s reconstruction of the I-95 corridor, the Bridgeport Green segment, is ongoing.

     The State will bring suit against several of the contractors/designers/subcontractors who constructed the UCONN Law Library and Niantic women’s prison, York Correctional Facility – both DPW administered projects.

     The Department along with other parties initiated a lawsuit against American Crushing & Recycling (AC&R) after one of AC &R's trucks crashed into several motor vehicles, killing their occupants, at the base of Avon Mountain in July 2005.   A court appointed receiver sold at auction all of AC&R’s trucking assets preserving some funds for the victims.  The Superior Court is moving towards the issuance of notice to all potential claimants to submit their claims, so that a process can be established to distribute the funds without depleting them.

     The Department is representing the DPW in a declaratory ruling matter regarding the applicability of the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act (“CEPA”) to the sale of Norwich Hospital “as is” to the towns of Norwich and Preston which is pending before the Connecticut Supreme Court. 

     The Department is also responsible for handling housing matters for the Department of Economic Control and Development as well as all employee housing matters throughout the state.  We have issued Notices to Quit to state employees as well as non-employees to require non-rent paying employees to pay rent and to evict non-employees.  Most of these matters have resulted in amicable settlements.

     Our DOT representation also covers all matters relating to eminent domain and rights-of-way issues and surplus property divestitures; any issues as to properties and facilities including all I-95 and the Merritt Parkway facilities; aviation and ports; public transit; rails; the State Traffic Commission; Siting Council issues relating to the use of DOT’s rights of way by transmission facilities; and all environmental matters including permitting, salt shed and maintenance facilities located throughout the State.  During the preceding year we, in conjunction with DOT staff, developed a Master Leasing Agreement for wireless communication facilities on DOT property, which is expected to generate significant ongoing revenue for the State. 

     This Department also represents the Department of Environmental Protection in property matters. Of particular significance:  the provision of legal services to the Department of Environmental Protection in connection with the procurement of conservation easements resulting in the dedication of thousands of acres to public recreation; and the provision of legal advice on complex property law issues attendant to the creation of “water taxi” services linking the Cities of New London and Groton; successful litigation to obtain the removal of a building from a portion of State forest land in Simsbury, together with restoration of the land to its condition prior to construction.  The value of our legal services to the DEP in real property transactions totaled $13,232,394.  These services included 25 conveyances of real property, 3 leases, 30 open space grant agreements, 27 conservation easements, and a total of 15 easements and other agreements.

     Our representation of DPW also consists of construction matters as well as handling a large amount of leasing, property management, and environmental compliance.   During the past year, we provided legal counsel and review of 56 leases, 11 license agreements, and 126 contracts.  This is exclusive of DPW real estate transactions in the form of purchase and sale agreements, deeds and easements.  

     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 balance the need to develop our state economy and governmental services with the need 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 from both Connecticut and federal regulatory agencies, such as the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

 

 

Affirmative Action

     The Office of the Attorney General is firmly committed to equal employment opportunity. Nearly 50 percent of the full-time attorney workforce consisted of women and minorities. Women and minorities comprised 59.7 percent of entry-level attorneys and 43 percent of middle and high-level attorneys.