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 - 338

Recurring General Fund operating expenses - $32.6million

Revenues generated - $684,600,213

 

 

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 2007-2008 fiscal year:    $684,600,213

 

A.  Revenue Generated for General Fund                

Tobacco Settlement Fund Collections                           $141,347,315 

State Child Support Collections                                    $   45,823,963            

Tax Collection                                                              $     1,085,098       

Health Care Fraud Recovery                                        $     6,007,790                        

Antitrust Fees, Costs and Restitution                             $        413,551   

Penalties for Environmental Violations                           $     1,457,440

Antitrust Civil Penalties                                                 $     4,013,500                                    

Department of Social Services Collections                     $     6,171,638                          

Department of Administrative Services Collections        $     7,792,621                                                    

Consumer Protection Penalties & Fees                          $        424,045                        

Miscellaneous Collections                                            $     1,573,404  

Consumer Protection Settlements                                  $     1,960,025

Treasurer Collections                                                    $        137,579                       

Total Revenue for State's General Fund         $218,007,969     

               B.  Revenue Generated for Special Funds

 

John Dempsey Hospital                                                $        202,755

Unpaid Wage and Employment Tax Collection              $        343,756

State Employees Workers’ Compensation Collection    $       814,368

Second Injury Fund Collection                                      $        105,939

Consumer Protection Education                                    $        252,879

Transportation Fund                                                     $   17,500,000

Total Revenue for Special Funds                       $   19,219,697

                       

C.  Revenue Awarded or Paid to Individuals and Businesses

 

Anti-Trust Restitution                                                    $   95,431,525

Consumer Protection Restitution                                   $     1,522,310

Refunds for Utility Consumers                                       $   44,000,000

Enron Related Recoveries for CRRA and Towns          $     4,745,000

Environmental Clean-up and Remediation                      $        670,921

Trust Funds Protected, Preserved or Recovered           $   91,122,271

Restitution from Home Improvement Contractors          $       306,744

State Child Support Collection for CT Families             $ 208,457,231

Consumer Health Insurance Restitution                          $     1,115,376

Renter’s Security Deposits                                                          2,169

            Total Revenue to Individuals and Businesses      $ 447,373,547

 

TOTAL REVENUE ACHIEVED                                $ 684,600,213

 

         

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 2007-2008 the office generated approximately $684.6 million in revenue for the general fund, special state funds and for consumers.  The overall work completed by this office in fiscal year 2007-2008 is summarized as follows:

 

Court cases completed             15,119

Court cases pending                 33,646

Legal documents                        

   Examined                                5,866

Administrative                            

   Proceedings                             6,033

Appeals completed                        134    

Appeals pending                            294   

Formal opinions issued                     35      

           

Legislation

     The Attorney General successfully advocated for several initiatives to help consumers including legislation prohibiting oil companies from restricting their retailers from offering discounts for gasoline cash purchases, protecting prepaid heating oil deposits when a heating oil company is placed in receivership, limiting commercial businesses use of consumer social security numbers and prohibiting lead in children’s toys.  In addition, the Attorney General opposed legislation transferring state regulatory authority over insurance annuities and other financial products to a national organization of insurers and insurance regulators.

     The Attorney General also supported new laws that would establish an Asian-American Commission, create a coordinating committee of state agencies to enforce employee misclassification laws and allow the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund to use more of its funds for cessation and prevention programs.

 

Antitrust

     The Antitrust Department's primary responsibility is to administer and enforce the Connecticut Antitrust Act, and has authority to enforce major provisions of the federal antitrust laws as well.  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.  In that regard the Department has conducted investigations, commenced legal action and obtained settlements in the insurance, financial, pharmaceutical, facility maintenance and healthcare industries, among others.  All told, the Department secured significant restitution for injured consumers, including state agencies, small businesses and individuals, and collected and obtained large civil 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, has cost Connecticut citizens - - both individuals and corporations, as well as Connecticut municipalities and state agencies - - in the form of higher premiums for their insurance.  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. 

 

     In October, 2007, the Attorney General broke new ground by filing the first enforcement action in the highly secretive reinsurance industry.  Reinsurance is the business of providing insurance-to-insurance companies, and certain aspects of the lucrative business are controlled by a small number of powerful reinsurance brokers.  The Attorney General’s lawsuit against Guy Carpenter & Co. -- one of the world’s largest reinsurance brokers -- and Excess Reinsurance Company, alleged that Guy Carpenter engaged in a series of illegal conspiracies with a number of co-conspirator reinsurers to fix the prices of reinsurance and allocate business to a small number of preferred reinsurers in exchange for excessive hidden payments.  The complaint seeks restitution, penalties and other equitable relief. 

 

     In July, 2007, the Attorney General entered into a $115 million settlement with The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. for its role in a long-term scheme designed to rig bids and illegally steer business for its insurance products in exchange for paying brokers secret payments, and for its role in a scheme enabling certain of its large institutional customers to engage in “market timing” in some of The Hartford’s mutual funds.   Through the Attorney General’s settlement, The Hartford established two restitution pools totaling $89 million dollars for injured consumers both within Connecticut and the United States.  In addition, The Hartford agreed to pay a $3 million penalty to the state, and agreed to implement a number of business reforms to ensure the conduct would never happen again. 

 

     On November 14, 2007, the Attorney General announced a settlement with The Principal Financial Group over its decade-long scheme to conceal secret payments to brokers in exchange for receiving preferential treatment from brokers placing group annuities for their pension plan clients.  The settlement established a national restitution fund of $4.4 million for injured pension plans, a $600,000 civil penalty and business reforms to prohibit the illegal business practices from reoccurring.  In May, of 2008, the office settled another case involving largely the same conduct against Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company (“Mutual”).  The settlement provided a $1.5 million restitution fund to pension plans throughout the United States and a $195,000 civil penalty.  Mutual also agreed to adopt significant business reforms. 

 

     This past year has brought unprecedented turmoil in the financial markets and allegations of suspect business practices engaged in by mortgage lenders, investment banks and others involved in the financial services industry.  In part due to concerns raised by these issues, the Attorney General launched an investigation of the three major U.S. credit rating agencies:  Moody’s, Standard & Poors and Fitch, over their respective practices in providing credit ratings for debt instruments -- collateralized debt obligations, municipal bonds, and other structured securities which are at the core of the financial crisis.  The wide-ranging investigation seeks to determine whether one or more of these companies engaged in illegal and anticompetitive business practices.  One particular focus of the investigation is the extent to which the credit raters may have underrated public debt issued by the State of Connecticut and a number of its municipalities and towns, forcing those entities to incur significantly greater costs.  The investigation is ongoing and to the extent the Attorney General determines the practice is illegal, he will take whatever actions are necessary to ensure consumers harmed by the conduct are compensated. 

 

     Ensuring competitive markets in the healthcare industry is an ongoing priority of the Antitrust Department.  This last fiscal year saw additional enforcements actions by the office.  In March, 2008, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and Fournier Industrie Et Sante, a French drug company, for allegedly illegally blocking cheaper, generic versions of TriCor, a cholesterol drug, from reaching the market.  The suit alleges that the companies maintain monopoly power by improperly obtaining patents for TriCor knowing the patents are unenforceable, making minor changes in drug formulation to impede generic entry and other anticompetitive conduct.  The suits seek damages, injunctive and other relief.  On May 1, 2008, the Attorney General announced a national settlement in his investigation of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (“IDSA”) over its issuance of clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of Lyme disease.  The Attorney General’s investigation uncovered serious flaws in the IDSA’s process for drafting its 2006 Lyme disease guidelines, including a failure to conduct a conflicts check for any of the guideline’s authors prior to their appointment to the guideline panel and the panel’s failure to meaningfully consider opposing points of view on certain issues -- principally the existence and treatment of chronic Lyme disease.  The settlement requires the IDSA to empanel a neutral conflict free review panel to reassess the findings of the 2006 Lyme disease guidelines.  The case is significant in that it is the first-ever antitrust investigation against a medical society related to clinical practice guidelines.  The settlement will ensure that the findings of the 2006 guidelines have undergone a comprehensive and rigorous review.  

 

     On the local front, two significant investigations were concluded this fiscal year.  First, in two separate actions, the Attorney General settled with the remaining co-conspirators in his long-running antitrust prosecutions stemming from his bid-rigging investigation in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning ("HVAC") industry.  In July 2007, the Attorney General entered into a settlement with John Haggett, the former president of B-G Mechanical Services, Inc., (“B-G”) and Christopher Link, the owner of Link Mechanical Services, a competitor of B-G who provided rigged bids.  In February 2008, the Attorney General settled with Industrial Steel & Boiler Services, Inc. and its part-owner, William O’Neil for participating in the same bid-rigging scheme.  The combined settlements netted civil penalties of $210,000 and a requirement that the two companies establish antitrust compliance plans to prevent future anticompetitive practices.   

 

     Second, in March 2008, the Attorney General entered into a settlement with two Connecticut chiropractic trade groups and an attorney over an alleged illegal, anticompetitive statewide boycott of a Connecticut health insurer.  In a joint investigation conducted with the Federal Trade Commission, the Attorney General found that the Connecticut Chiropractic Association (“CCA”) aided by their long-time counsel, Robert Hirtle, and the Connecticut Chiropractic Council (“CCC”) agreed to boycott Anthem Health Plan’s attempt to form a statewide network for chiropractic services.  Under the agreements reached with the CCA, CCC and Hirtle, each paid a civil penalty and adopted measures to prevent future anticompetitive practices.   

 

     Merger enforcement has long-been a high priority within the Attorney General’s antitrust enforcement regime and this year was no exception.  In September 2007, the office concluded a review of the merger between the two largest school bus transportation providers in the United States – First Group and Laidlaw International, Inc.  The Attorney General’s investigation resulted in an agreement that requires measures to prohibit the merged entity from using its market power to force Connecticut school districts to accept unreasonable school bus contracts for their school districts.  Shortly, after concluding the school bus merger, the Attorney General commenced an investigation of the proposed sale of the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time by Media NewsGroup, which already owns and/or operates several other newspapers in the state.  That investigation is still ongoing.

 

 

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 continued his efforts to educate consumers on how to avoid scams and helped mediate disputes between consumers and those who sell or who offer to sell consumer’s goods or services.  As part of this undertaking, this Department assists the Attorney General in issuing consumer alerts about fraudulent financial schemes, identity theft, and dangerous products, and presenting and attending consumer education forums.  For example, the Attorney General hosted the 6th Annual Connecticut Triad Conference at Central Connecticut State College.  The Conference featured presentations from the FBI, the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Connecticut Department of Banking, and a Judge of Probate, among others and focused on the Financial Exploitation and Abuse affecting the elderly.  The Attorney General will be hosting the 7th Annual Connecticut Triad Conference at Mystic Seaport this fall.  Furthermore, as part of the Attorney General’s focus on consumer mediation, our Department, which consists of attorneys, volunteer advocates and other staff, responded to 3,475 consumer complaints during this fiscal year.  Over $896,196.07 was refunded or credited to Connecticut consumers due to the mediation efforts of the Department.

 

Home Heating-Oil Cases

 

     Our office is investigating a series of failures of local heating oil companies that have caused significant financial hardship to consumers, particularly those who entered into long-term pre-paid contracts with such oil companies.  As part of a lawsuit brought by our Department against F&S Oil Co. and its subsidiaries Village Oil, Carlson Fuel, Inc., and Bosse & Graziano Oil Company, following allegations that the companies failed to deliver oil, we successfully obtained a Superior Court order appointing a receiver to preserve the Company’s assets for consumers.  Our office has been working through each asset sale to maximize customer benefits.  We also sued the former F & S Oil President and attached his personal property.

 

     We previously filed suit against Newtown Oil Company and its principals for allegedly failing to deliver pre-paid fuel oil to customers.  The case was settled with strong injunctive provisions as well as $250,000 in consumer restitution.  Subsequent to the settlement of the civil case against Newtown Oil, William Trudeau and Heather Bliss, this Office participated in a multiagency taskforce which ultimately lead to the arrest of Trudeau and Bliss on criminal charges.  

 

     Our office also obtained a judgment against Accurate Heating and Cooling, LLC and its owner Joseph George Reynolds, following allegations that the defendants failed to provide oil and service promised in company contracts and to secure sufficient supplies for prepaid agreements.  The court ordered Accurate to pay $496,000.00 civil penalties, $138,666.38 disgorgement, attorneys fees and costs, and $138,666 in restitution and barred Reynolds from owning, operating, managing or working for a heating oil business until he pays all sums ordered by the court and otherwise brings himself into compliance with the home heating oil dealer statutes.

 

Caffeine-Alcohol Drinks

 

     In June 2008, our office, in conjunction with the Attorneys General of ten other states reached an agreement with Anheuser-Busch that will result in the discontinuance of its two pre-mixed energy drinks Tilt and Bud Extra.  As part of the agreement, Anheuser-Busch will not produce any caffeinated alcoholic beverages in the future.  The alcoholic energy products taste and look like non-alcoholic energy drinks that are popular with young people who often wrongly believe that the caffeine in the drinks will counteract the intoxicating effects of the alcohol, allegedly because of aggressive marketing campaigns. 

 

In addition, 16 Attorneys General submitted a letter urging the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to take immediate action to investigate allegations that Sparks and Sparks Plus alcoholic energy drinks contain excessive levels of caffeine.  The letter also requests TTB to determine if the alcohol content in Sparks alcoholic energy drink, reportedly 6 percent, is actually higher than the amount disclosed on the label.

 

Prescription Drug Cases

 

     Our office together with 29 Attorneys General settled with Merck, resolving allegations that it launched an aggressive and deceptive advertising campaign that misrepresented the safety and improperly concealed the increased risks associated with the pain-relieving drug Vioxx.  Under the settlement, Merck will no longer engage in ghostwriting articles for health care providers, refrain from using scientific data deceptively when marketing to doctors, delay any direct-to-consumer television advertising for a pain medication if the FDA recommends it do so, submit all television advertising campaigns to the FDA for review before release, adhere to any recommendations by the FDA, and pay $58 million to the settling states of which Connecticut received $1,352,287.63. 

 

     We have also settled with Express Scripts Inc., resolving allegations that it engaged in deceptive business practices by not acting in a manner consistent with its representations to consumers and employers about its pharmacy benefit management services.  Express Scripts allegedly overstated the cost benefits of switching to certain preferred medications.  According to the settlement, the company will pay $9.3 million to the states in reimbursement to patients who switched between cholesterol-controlling drugs.

 

     Connecticut has filed suit against McKesson Corp., the largest pharmaceutical distributor in North America, for allegedly artificially inflating drug costs on several top-brand drugs. McKesson allegedly conspired with First DataBank to artificially inflate the average wholesale prices for their pharmaceuticals, creating increased costs to consumers, the state and the Medicare program, allegedly increasing McKesson’s market share at the expense of taxpayers and consumers. 

 

Health Care Products

 

     In August 2007, Connecticut and 31 other states finalized a settlement with Guidant Corporation, a subsidiary of Boston Scientific, over Guidant’s sale of allegedly defective implantable cardiac defibrillators (“ICDs”).  Guidant reported that the ICDs contained a wiring problem which could cause the units to short circuit and fail to deliver a life-saving shock to a patient’s heart.  Despite discovery of the defect and implementation of two corrective changes in 2002, we alleged that Guidant continued to sell unmodified ICDs until 2003.  Guidant agreed to implement a number of improved safety procedures, to provide extended warranty protections to patients, to reimburse consumers for out-of-pocket expenses they incur to replace their ICDs, and to make a payment to the State in the amount of $390,000.00.

 

Unsolicited Faxes

 

     The State brought a sovereign enforcement action under CUTPA against New England Industrial Roofing, LLC, a Connecticut roofing company, for its violations of state laws prohibiting unsolicited facsimile advertisements to recipients in Connecticut.  The company sent a total of forty (40) unsolicited faxes to Connecticut recipients over several months.  After a hearing in damages to the Court, the State obtained a judgment against the company which included, in part, civil penalties totaling $40,000.00, or $1,000.00 per unsolicited fax. 

 

     Our Department also pursued Progressive Business Publications, a Pennsylvania company, for solicitations via facsimile which purported to be an official notice from the Connecticut Healthcare Advocate warning that businesses who do not post a certain poster issued by the Connecticut Healthcare Advocate risked fines of up to $7,500.  Our Department sued the company, alleging that it purposefully misrepresented the source of the solicitation so that the recipients would order posters from Progressive, thinking they were purchasing them from the Connecticut Healthcare Advocate. 

 

Consumer Products and Services

 

     Connecticut is helping to lead a nationwide investigation into Missouri-based National Auto Warranty Services, Consumer Protection Services, Warranty Activation Headquarters, California-based Auto One Warranty, Florida-based Great Atlantic Warranty, and Automotive Warranty Advisors, alleging that the companies attempted to sell outrageously priced extended auto warranties to consumers and often “phished” for personal information about the consumers.

 

     Our office negotiated a settlement with lawn tractor manufacturer MTD Products (“MTD”) and engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton (“Briggs”) resolving allegations that the defendants falsely labeled 16 horsepower engines as 18.5 horsepower, misleading consumers into believing they were buying a more powerful product.  The stipulated court judgment requires MTD and Briggs to pay restitution to affected consumers in the amount of $300 per tractor and to make a payment to the State in the amount of $250,000.  The companies also agreed to injunctive relief to prevent any recurrence.

 

     Our office together with 17 other Attorneys General settled with South Carolina-based JK Harris & Company, JK Harris Financial Recovery System LLC, Professional Fee Financing Associates LLC, and owner John Harris, resolving allegations that they falsely advertised tax relief services by claiming they could settle debts with the IRS for “pennies on the dollar” by using an “offer in compromise” with the Internal Revenue Service that they were not qualified to deliver.  Furthermore, JK Harris Financial Recovery System contacted consumers through direct mailings that stated consumers would be facing court action due to their outstanding debt, which the company could help them resolve for a fee.  The investigation found that in many cases there was no debt owed by the consumer.

 

     A lawsuit was filed against Ultimate Travel Network, LLC, Ameri-world Group, LLC and Millennium Travel & Promotions, Inc. alleging deceptive practices, high pressures sales tactics, misrepresentation as to the availability of travel dates to certain locations, and failure to provide the “free” travel vouchers.

 

     We also settled with Storesonline, Inc. a/k/a Imergent, Inc., resolving allegations that the company made exaggerated and deceptive claims to consumers about the types of websites it could set up for their existing companies.  Under the settlement, Storesonline, Inc. will pay the state $65,000 and another $65,000 in restitution to Connecticut consumers who bought its services. 

 

     Our office also filed a lawsuit against the owner of The Brick Gallery in Essex after it closed abruptly and failed to return several unsold art pieces and pay more than 100 artists proceeds for sold artwork.

 

     Our office reached an agreement with the Internet phone company, Vonage Holdings Corporation, resolving allegations that the company failed to fully inform users of its Voice over Internet Protocol phone service that their 911 calls could be delayed or not go through.  Vonage has agreed to assure its Internet telephone subscribers have full and fast 911 emergency access. 

 

     The State filed a sovereign enforcement action against Mr. Tim Chapulis, an auctioneer, and his company Tim’s Inc. for selling real property by auction without a real estate license.  Specifically, we alleged that Mr. Chapulis and Tim’s Auction are in violation of General Statutes § 20-325, which prohibits persons not in possession of a real estate broker or salesperson’s license from engaging in the business of a real estate broker or salesperson; and Regs., Conn. State Agencies § 20-328-8a(c), which prohibits salespersons from demanding compensation absent reasonable cause for payment.

 

Unsolicited Check Cases

 

     As part of a multi-state action, we reached a settlement with Directory Billing, LLC, resolving allegations that the company engaged in deceptive business practices by using “live” activation checks to require businesses and organizations to pay for a preferred business listing on Directory Billing’s on-line yellow pages directory.  Directory Billing allegedly sent businesses and other organizations “live” activation checks in the mail, made payable to the business or organization for a small amount.  On the back of the checks, in fine print above the endorsement line, was language stating that by depositing the check, the recipient agreed to purchase from Directory Billing its on-line yellow pages directory.  The fine print also stated that by depositing the check, the recipient authorized Directory Billing to bill monthly fees through the business’s telephone bill or through automatic debiting of the amount from the bank account into which the recipient deposited the check, or by other methods.  Under the terms of the judgment Directory Billing must stop using these solicitation checks, give notice to all current customers and pay restitution and fees totaling $8,485.00 to Connecticut consumers and to the state.

 

Home Mortgage Cases

 

     Our Department along with the Attorney General’s Banking and Finance Department settled with Reiner, Reiner, and Bendett, P.C., Absolute Mortgage Solutions, LLC, and Access America, LLC d/b/a/ Century 21 Access America of Wethersfield, resolving allegations that Reiner, a title insurance company, used sham service, rental, and other agreements to conceal kickbacks and inducements.  In exchange, Absolute and Access allegedly steered consumers to Reiner, resulting in consumers being overcharged. The defendants agreed to a settlement of $700,000 and injunctive relief.

 

     We brought the predatory lending lawsuit against Royal Financial Services, LLC et al., under CUTPA and Connecticut Banking Law.  We alleged that defendants flipped properties in the New London area, and sold the properties to unsophisticated, low-income buyers for artificially inflated prices (supported by inflated appraisals).  They convinced buyers (many of whom did not speak English) that the properties would provide rental income, and they promised to take care of everything (i.e., finding renters and collecting rent, paying mortgage and tax payments, and performing maintenance). We alleged that the defendants received high or unsubstantiated commissions to manipulate the mortgage brokering process to qualify the victims for mortgages.  After the closings, the defendants would not, despite their previous representations, find renters for the properties, collect the rents, pay the mortgages and property taxes, or maintain the properties.  Litigation is ongoing.

 

Internet Services

 

     America Online, a Virginia based company providing dial-up Internet access to consumers, made it extremely difficult for consumers to cancel their accounts.  Some consumers complained that they were placed on hold for long periods of time until they gave up, or that AOL's employees hung up on them when they expressed their desire to close their accounts, most of which cost $25.90 per month.  Connecticut and 47 other states and the District of Columbia settled with AOL which agreed to implement new procedures for ensuring that cancellation requests are honored and to pay the states $3 million.

 

     Our office led the Attorneys General from 48 States and the District of Columbia to reach an agreement with Facebook that would better protect children from predators and inappropriate content.  Under the terms of the agreement, Facebook agreed to provide automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult; restrict the ability of its users to change their listed ages; act more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site; and require third party vendors to adhere to Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.

 

Funeral Home Practices

 

     Our office filed a lawsuit in October of 2007 against Magner Management alleging unfair and deceptive conduct, including violation of cemetery statutes, self-dealing, and sales tax fraud.  In addition, our office investigated Colonial Funeral Home after receiving a complaint regarding the failure of the funeral director to transfer insurance and preneed account funds.  We obtained a court order enjoining him, Colonial Funeral Home and its funeral director from operating in the State of Connecticut until he responds to a Civil Investigative Demand and we are contacting funeral trust funds to locate any deposits on behalf of Colonial Customers.

 

Computer Data Breaches

 

     We investigated data breaches at two Bank of New York Mellon businesses, Shareowner Services and Working Capital Solutions.  The Shareowner Services breach involved the loss of an unencrypted backup tape containing sensitive, personally identifiable information on about 4.5 million consumers nationwide, nearly half a million of whom are Connecticut residents. The Working Capital Solutions breach involved the loss of a backup tape which contained scans of checks and remittance documents.  Many of the images purportedly contain sensitive, personally identifiable information.  After negotiations with our office, the Bank of New York Mellon agreed to provide each affected individual with free credit monitoring for two years and identity theft insurance of $25,000.00.  Significantly, our office also persuaded the Bank of New York Mellon to offer reimbursement for the placing and lifting of credit freezes for affected consumers. 

 

Home Improvement Contactors

 

     The Office remains active in criminally prosecuting unscrupulous home improvement contractors and unlicensed real estate brokers and agents, accepting 107 cases this year for prosecution which resulted in $306,744.21 in court-ordered restitution to victims.

 

     Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced the sentencing of Richard A. Koslik, a home improvement contractor, to a nine-month prison term after being convicted of two counts of offering to make home improvements and one count of making home improvements without being properly registered.

 

     We filed a CUTPA enforcement action against Community Remodeling Co., LLC, Home Funding Resources, Anthony Perrotti and Francis J. Guarino.  The complaint asserts various allegations against the defendants, including that defendants willfully held themselves out as registered home improvement contractors despite no registration with DCP, misrepresented that their services were endorsed by a governmental entity, misrepresented that they were licensed to loan money to consumers to finance the payment of the home improvement services that were to be provided, refused to cancel contracts pursuant to the contract terms, unilaterally renewed contracts with additional terms, and engaged in abusive and unfair debt collection practices.

 

Utility Rate Increase Cases

 

    This office vigorously opposed a $209.7 million CL&P rate increase request for 2008 and 2009.  In its decision, the Department of Public Utility Control accepted many of the AG's arguments and approved a rate increase of only $70.2 million in 2008 and $22.5 million in 2009. 

 

     The Attorney General asked the DPUC to bar Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG) from collecting $1.4 million from 3,400 customers as a penalty for illegal and improper bills it sent them in January 2008.  In November and December 2007, CNG under-billed 3,400 customers and sought to make up for that under-billing in January by sending consumers bills that included usage for November, December and January, imposing a tremendous cost burden on those customers.  CNG’s billing practices violated Connecticut law, specifically 16-259a, which restricts the manner and time in which a utility can recover unbilled amounts from its customers. 

 

     Milford Power, LLC sought and received a ratepayer subsidized reliability contract ("RMR") from ISO NE and the FERC.  The AG appealed that ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  The AG also filed a complaint at FERC seeking to terminate the subsidy on the basis that Milford was improperly relying on debt service obligations to demonstrate its need for the subsidy.  In a settlement agreement Milford agreed to terminate the RMR subsidy 18 months early, saving customers $34 million, and provide a direct refund to customers of an additional $4 million. 

 

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 handles the largest caseload in the office and 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 successfully defended the state in a long-standing federal lawsuit involving a child with educational needs.  In M. K. v. Sergei, the federal court determined that DCF had not violated federal law or discriminated against a disabled child by admitting a mentally ill child to DCF’s voluntary services program, The court found that DCF’s voluntary service program was offered to prevent the child from being removed by court order after the child’s mother felt she could no longer care for the child at home -- the child received the same services he would have received through a juvenile court proceeding, without the parents losing their legal rights.  Nor does DCF bear responsibility for the child’s educational needs; those services are properly provided by the child’s school system, not DCF.

 

     This year saw an increase in the number of appeals the department handled in state court.   Currently pending are 52 appeals; in most of these appeals the department is defending a decision to terminate parental rights for children who have been abused or neglected and who cannot be safely returned to their parents.   

 

     In fourteen out of fifteen cases decided by the Appellate or Supreme Court, the decisions were favorable to the state.  The one case where a termination of parental rights was reversed, In re Jorden R., 107 Conn. App. 12 (2008) is currently under review by the Supreme Court. 

 

     Of particular note was the ruling in In re T.K, 105 Conn. App. 502 (2008), where the Appellate Court affirmed an emergency custody order involving a newborn whose mother had verbalized to the medical staff her obsessive thoughts to harm herself and her child.  The Appellate Court ruled that regardless of whether parents are cooperative or whether they have no history of harming other children, the trial court must still consider the risk to the child. As the Court stated: “The doctrine of predictive neglect is grounded in the state's responsibility to avoid harm to the well-being of a child, not to repair it after a tragedy has occurred.”

 

     The Supreme Court affirmed a decision terminating parental rights in In re Davonta V., 285 Conn. 483 (2008), determining that it was in the best interest of Davonta, a teenage boy who had been in foster care for many years, to have his mother’s parental rights terminated, even though he would not likely be adopted.  The trial court properly relied on expert testimony explaining that the child wanted to remain with his current foster family where he had a stable home and was doing well.  Termination would assure the child security and permanency and the decision of the trial court was therefore affirmed.

 

     Another victory for the department was In re Joseph L.105 Conn. App. 515 (2008) two consolidated appeals by parents whose rights had been terminated, based on a history of severe domestic violence, mental illness and substance abuse.  Among the issues raised by that appeal was whether the trial court erred in not appointing a guardian ad litem for the children, based on statements the father claimed one of his sons had made indicating he wanted to return home.  The children’s attorney had reported no conflict in representing the children when asked by the trial court.  Because the father failed to establish a record that the children’s interest conflicted with the position taken by their attorney, or that, at their young age, they were capable of understanding and developing a position, the trial court had no duty to appoint a separate guardian ad litem.  Nor would the appointment of a separate guardian ad litem have affected the outcome of the trial.     

  

     In Anna Lee M., 104 Conn. App. 121 (2007) the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s termination of parental rights for three children whose mother was not capable of safely caring for them.   On appeal, the mother argued that her history of neglect of her older children should not be admissible but the Appellate Court determined that the court properly considered, as it must, the mother’s parenting ability from a historical perspective.  

 

     The Appellate Court reversed a trial court’s ruling in In re Selena O., 104 Conn. App. 635 (2007), a case in which the department appealed the denial of a petition to terminate parental rights by the trial court which had assumed the mother had completed a drug treatment program after the end of the trial, with no evidence to support that assumption.   The Appellate Court agreed that the court’s assumption was speculation and remanded the case for a new trial.

 

     Lastly, the Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court in In re Leah S., 284 Conn. 685 (2007) a case setting the parameters for when the Department of Children and Families may be held in contempt.  In that case, a court order requiring DCF to take all necessary steps to ensure the child’s safety and well being could not provide a sufficient legal basis to hold the department in contempt for failing to place a mentally ill child in a residential treatment facility.  A court order must be specific and unambiguous and a party’s actions must be willful before contempt may be issued for violation of a court order.  Here, there was no evidence that the department had acted wilfully when it had provided mental health services to the child and therefore the contempt finding was reversed. 

 

Environmental Department

 

     This year, our battle against one of the nation’s largest coal-fired power producers for its violations of the Clean Air Act came to a successful end.  In October of 2007, we settled the case that we, several other states, and the United States had brought against American Electric Power Company (“AEP”) for its violations of law that impaired the quality of the air the citizens of Connecticut breathe.  The settlement requires AEP to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to slash its pollution by more than two-thirds over the next decade.  AEP also agreed to pay $15 million in civil penalties and to pay $2.3 million for environmental projects that will assist in cleaning up Connecticut’s air.

 

     In May of 2008, a jury rendered a verdict on liability in another case brought under the Clean Air Act for emissions violations.  In the case against Cinergy Corp and its affiliates, the jury found that Cinergy violated the Clean Air Act at one of its plants in Indiana.  A trial on the appropriate remedy is scheduled for December 2008.

 

     We carried on our litigation against Allegheny Energy’s violation of the Clean Air Act by its coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania. Along with the states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, we allege that Allegheny Energy illegally emits tons of pollution that harms our citizens, and our environment. 

 

     We continued our efforts to combat global warming this past year.  Along with several other states and California, we sued the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for denying California’s request to regulate greenhouse gases from automobiles.  If California’s request to the EPA is not granted, Connecticut’s regulations, which are identical to California’s, cannot be implemented.

 

     We appealed the dismissal of our lawsuit against the five largest emitters of greenhouse gases.  We alleged in Connecticut v. AEP that the largest power producers in the United States were causing a public nuisance by their emissions of greenhouse gases.  We await a decision on our appeal from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

     We achieved great success in our continued efforts to protect Long Island Sound.  We successfully 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.  The court upheld DEP’s denial, thereby prohibiting construction of the pipeline.

 

     We successfully opposed the Broadwater floating LNG facility on behalf of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection.  In accordance with objections filed by us on behalf of DEP, the state of New York denied a coastal management plan consistency certification requested by Broadwater.

 

     This year we sought and obtained five temporary injunctions to halt damage to the environment.  In two cases against Associated Carting and D.C. Waste Management, we stopped two illegal solid waste facilities from operating in Milford and Stratford.  In McCarthy v. Atlantic Wire, we obtained an order from the court halting toxic waste discharges into the Branford River.  In McCarthy v. The Sergy Company, LLC and Magnatek, we got a temporary injunction requiring the restart of a treatment system to prevent flow of PCB contamination into the Bridgeport Harbor.  In McCarthy v. G&K Services Co., we halted the illegal laundering of industrial rags and uniforms that had been emitting tons of pollutants into the air.

 

     In our continuing effort to hold environmental polluters responsible for the environmental damage they cause, and to relieve the taxpayer from having to pay for the actions of a lawbreaker, we tried a case this year to pierce the corporate veil of a company that was hiding assets of the polluter.  We are awaiting a decision from the court.

 

     We continued our effort to protect The Preserve in Old Saybrook, a unique and pristine 1,000 acre parcel along the Connecticut shoreline.  In our continuing work to protect wetlands and watercourses, we filed an appeal of a decision of the court allowing a golf course to be constructed on The Preserve.

 

     We settled a case against Home Depot, Manafort Brothers, Inc., and others for a penalty of $750,000 for their violations of the dam permitting statutes and their stormwater general construction permit.  In this case, also known as the Montville mudslide case, we alleged that the defendants’ violations led to the evacuation of homes and the sedimentation of nearby streams and wetlands when earthen walls began to collapse during rainstorms.

 

     In our representation of the Department of Agriculture (“DOA”), we obtained an important Supreme Court decision upholding the DOA’s seizure of 46 neglected cats in the case of State of Connecticut v. Koczur.  We continued to file court actions to save abused or neglected animals, including livestock as well as domestic animals.  We obtained court orders upholding the state’s seizure of sixty-five abused animals.

 

     We also instituted the Animal Abuse Hotline this past year, providing an easier way for individuals to report instances of actual or suspected animal abuse and dog fighting.  All of the calls to the Hotline are immediately directed to the appropriate authorities for investigation.

 

     We continued to protect the development rights acquired by the DOA through its Farmland Preservation Program.  This past year, we assisted the DOA in preserving 869 acres of farmland by acquiring the development rights to the land. 

 

     In the area of enforcement of the solid waste laws, the office continued its successful efforts in prosecuting vehicle forfeiture cases where vehicles used in the illegal dumping of solid waste were seized by municipal police departments.  This year we seized three vehicles from polluters caught illegally dumping solid waste, including a dump truck from a repeat offender. The vehicles were all turned over to the towns in which the dumpers were caught.

 

     Our representation of the DEP 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, the Department of Special Revenue, 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 subprime mortgage market have been of particular concern for this Department.  Subprime mortgage lending involves borrowers whose credit is impaired.  The subprime lending industry expanded dramatically in the last decade, but with serious abuses and deceptive practices.  This office has fought predatory lending practices which entice consumers into unknowingly purchasing high cost, high fee loans that they later cannot repay or refinance.

 

     With the recent crisis in the residential mortgage industry associated with many of these abusive practices in the subprime market, many Connecticut homeowners have been faced with the threat of foreclosure.  This Department is investigating complaints of unfair and deceptive practices relating to the foreclosure process, including the imposition of deceptive or illegal fees.

 

     In addition, a substantial portion of the Finance Department’s resources over the past year and into the future are devoted to assisting individual consumers with complaints against banks and mortgage companies or who may be facing foreclosure.  The Department’s attorneys attempt to mediate informally a resolution of payment disputes, to assist in obtaining loan modifications and offer other help to distressed homeowners.  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.  The Department’s attorneys also attempt to help individuals experiencing difficulties related to the payment of student loans.

 

     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 joint investigations with the Insurance Department in title insurance and other areas.  Attorneys in this Department also assist the Department of Economic and Community Development pursuit of persons and companies that have defaulted on their 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 works with the Department of Revenue Services to maintain the Connecticut Tobacco Directory, and enforces state statutes relating to tobacco product manufacturers, as well as the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the states, including Connecticut, and participating tobacco product manufacturers.  This year, the Department has been involved in extensive litigation concerning the monetary payments owed to the State by tobacco product manufacturers.  Department attorneys are also prosecuting two major lawsuits against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for violations of the public health provisions of the Master Settlement Agreement that prohibit tobacco companies from making unsubstantiated health claims and from using cartoons in cigarette advertising. 

 

     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 great impact on the energy 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.  Additionally, the Department supplies 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 2007-2008 Department attorneys recovered cash payments on debts owed to the State of approximately twelve million dollars.

 

     Child support establishment activities traditionally produce large caseloads.  In fiscal 2007-2008, more than 11,000 cases were opened in all categories and over 6,189 files were closed during the period.  These cases involve establishment of order for the support of children wherever they or the non-custodial parent may be.  Department attorneys actively argued cases on behalf of children who resided not only in the State of Connecticut but other states as well pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.  A Department attorney succeeded in obtaining a support order on behalf of a child who resides in the Kingdom of Sweden pursuant to international reciprocal agreements. 

 

     Department attorneys were engaged in a wide variety of litigation activities, won important judicial victories and recovered significant sums on behalf of state agencies during the year.  The Department prevailed in two (2) matters decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court.  In Walsh v. Jodoin, 283 Conn. 187 (1997) the Court concurred with the arguments advanced by this office that federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal protection mandated that a newly passed state statute that extended the support obligation of a parent must be applied to cases in which the support order was in effect as of the effective date of the statute.  The Court reversed a Superior Court decision that would have limited the applicability of the statute to those cases in which the support order was entered on and after the effective date of the new statute.  

 

     In State v. Peters, 287 Conn. 82 (2008) the Supreme Court agreed with the state’s position that, in the context of the recovery of accident-related Medicaid benefits, the federal Social Security Act, which governs the program, permitted the state to secure reimbursement of its payments by imposition of a lien against the proceeds of the beneficiary’s cause of action and was not required to initiate a separate action against the tortfeasor.  The Court also held that where the state chose to secure reimbursement of its Medicaid payments through the lien mechanism, there was nothing in the law that would require the state to reduce the amount of its reimbursement pro rata to compensate the beneficiary for the attorney fees and costs he expended in obtaining the recovery in which the state ultimately shared. 

 

     In furtherance of an initiative taken in the prior fiscal year, a member of the Department continued to assist the Office of the Secretary of the State in securing payment fees, penalties and interest due from foreign corporations doing business in this state that had failed to register and pay the associated fee.  Slightly more than $1,000,000 in such fees, penalties and interest were collected during the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

 

     In the Estate of Michalik, a Department attorney successfully recovered more than $636,000 in Medicaid benefits and costs incurred for the decedent’s care at Connecticut Valley Hospital.  In the Estate of Newell, another Department attorney successfully recovered over $789,000 improperly paid assistance benefits, costs of care in a state humane institution and other public assistance benefits.  In the Estate of Ball, a Department attorney recovered over $645,000 in accident-related Medicaid benefits.  In the Estate of Cheatham a member of the Department recovered nearly $300,000 on the termination of a Special Needs Trust.   

 

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 170 employment cases in the state and federal courts, as well as more than 200 complaints before the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, and the Office of the Claims Commissioner.

 

     During the past year, the department defended state agencies in several significant cases.  For example, we successfully defended a case that challenged an agency’s right to require an employee to undergo a fitness for duty examination when significant issues arose that caused the agency to question the employee’s ability to perform the essential duties of the job.  In addition, we are currently involved in defending a class action lawsuit that challenges the validity of the physical fitness test administered to candidates for the position of correction officer.

 

     We prevailed in numerous other cases in the state and federal courts.  Significantly, we were able to obtain favorable rulings on 24 summary judgment motions that were filed, eliminating the need for trials in those cases.  We also obtained partial summary judgment rulings in 2 other cases and filed an additional 17 such motions, which are pending.  We were involved in 7 trials and administrative hearings during the past year and prevailed in all of them.   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 nine appeals.  In addition, we are awaiting rulings in a number other cases that we argued in the state and federal appellate courts.  Two 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 urged the courts to find that workers who come forward to report misconduct or incidents of violence or threatened violence in the workplace are entitled to immunity from suit.  These cases are significant to encourage employees to report misconduct and to cooperate in investigations being conducted by their employer.  We also obtained a favorable ruling from the Second Circuit in a case involving the Department of Correction’s ability to prohibit correction officers from associating with the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.  The Court upheld the DOC’s right to prohibit such association when it has the potential to disrupt the agency’s operations or threatens the efficiency, safety, or integrity of such operations.

 

     The department continued to work with the Department of Correction in lawsuits brought by several female correction officers who alleged that they were subject to sexual harassment.  We assisted the DOC in successfully implementing the terms of a stipulated agreement that made improvements in the manner in which DOC deals with sexual harassment complaints made by its employees.   

 

     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, pursuant to a 2003 statute.  In addition, we provided training to new state managers through a program provided by the Department of Administrative Services.  One of our paralegals was recently a presenter at The Hartford's First Annual Paralegal Day Event.

 

 

Public Safety and Special Revenue Department

 

     This department represents the Department of Public Safety, including the Division of State Police and the Division of Fire, Emergency and Building Services; the Military Department; the Department of Correction; the Department Emergency Management and Homeland Security, 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, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council, the State Marshal Commission and  the Office of Victim Services.

 

Department of Correction - Although we provide legal services to and represent a variety of state functions in the area of public safety and criminal justice, a substantial portion of our work is in defense of the state in lawsuits brought by and on behalf of prisoners.  We continue to defend a large number of lawsuits challenging conditions of confinement in state correctional facilities and the administration of community programs.  These lawsuits collectively seek millions of dollars in money damages and seek to challenge and restrict the statutory authority and discretion of the Department of Correction.  Our efforts in defense of these cases save the State of Connecticut millions of dollars in claimed damages, save additional sums which might have been required to comply with court orders and preserve the state's authority in administering a growing prison population.  In addition, this department has assisted in the collection 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 handled numerous appeals in the Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts involving the issue of “time calculation.” Our department successfully tried the case of Wiseman v. Armstrong, involving a mentally ill inmate who died while being restrained by correctional staff as they conducted a strip search prior to admitting him to the inpatient medical unit after he assaulted another inmate.  After a trial lasting over a month, with numerous experts, the jury came back with a verdict in favor of all the defendants.

 

Board of Pardons and Paroles - Due to the recent changes in the Board of Pardons and Paroles, we have been assisting the Board 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. Lastly, we have defended the Board in a number of cases where offenders have challenged the denial or revocation parole.

 

Department of Public Safety - We have the responsibility for the defense and representation of the State Police in almost all lawsuits 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 favorable decisions in many of those cases.

 

     We continue to represent the Department of Public Safety in administrative appeals involving the State Building Code and Fire Safety Code. We successfully defended the department in the case of American Promotional Events, Inc. v. Blumenthal in the Connecticut Supreme Court. The case involved the illegal sale of fireworks. That case represents one of many such cases where the Office of the Attorney General has gone to court to protect consumers from the dangerous consequences of illegal fireworks.  We also routinely appear on behalf of the department before the Freedom of Information Commission. Lastly, we review contracts and regulations for the department.

 

Board of Firearms Permit Examiners - During the past year, we provided legal advice and representation to the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners on a number of issues.  We have handled several appeals to the Superior Court from the Board’s decisions. We continue to work with the Board and the Department of Public Safety to enforce the firearms laws of the State of Connecticut.

 

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 state’s liquor laws. In addition, we have handled a number of administrative appeals involving the Division.

 

State Marshall Commission - We have provided legal advice to the State Marshal Commission on number of matters during the past year.  In addition we successfully defended several lawsuits challenging the authority of the Commission to regulate the conduct of State Marshals.

 

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 conducted investigations and 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, 9,409 charities and 74 professional fundraisers are registered with the State.  Of the $10.8 million donated to professional telephone solicitors for charitable organizations in 2006, only $3.54 million, or 32.79 % 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.  The Attorney General’s efforts in the Islander East case resulted in an historic victory in the Second Circuit, effectively ending the project in its current form.            Similarly, the Attorney General coordinated carefully with the State of New York which ruled against Broadwater.  Additionally, the Department continues to be 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 challenging the constitutionality of the newly enacted Campaign Finance Law in federal court.  (2) Continues to prosecute a first of its kind lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the State of Connecticut and the Legislature against the United States Secretary of the Department of Education to enforce express mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act which prohibit her from imposing education requirements on the State without providing adequate funding to pay for them.  (3) Defended an action seeking to declare Connecticut’s marriage laws unconstitutional.  (4) Defended the State’s interests in an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court involving whether the Constitution requires the State to provide a suitable education.  (5) Brought a declaratory judgment action against the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of the Foxwoods Casino, seeking a judgment that the Tribe is required to include the value of coupons used in slot machines for promotional purposes to calculate monies owed to the State under a memorandum of understanding.  (6) Brought an action against Accenture, Inc. to recover damages to the State for breach of contract resulting form Accenture’s actions in improperly releasing certain confidential information including taxpayers’ social security numbers and State bank accounts. (7) Represented the interests of the State in the ongoing litigation in the District of Columbia Circuit Court regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s mammoth airspace redesign project. (8) Defended an action challenging the constitutionality of a state law prohibiting inactivity fees and expiration dates on gift cards.  (9) Defended an action challenging 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 Courts.

 

 

Health and Education Department

 

     The Health and Education Department provides legal services and representation to a broad spectrum of state agencies, which includes the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut State University System, the Connecticut Community College System, the State Department of Education and all other state agencies that have an educational function.

 

     This Department also represents the Department of Public Health, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Office of Health Care Access, the Psychiatric Security Review Board, the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Commission on Medical and Legal Investigations overseeing the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the various health licensing boards and commissions.

 

     One of the most significant developments involving this department during the past fiscal year concerns the long-standing Sheff v. O’Neill lawsuit.  After a lengthy trial in November 2007, the parties reached a settlement which was approved by the legislature in 2008.  The new Sheff settlement agreement represents an important step forward in achieving the goal of quality education for all Hartford children.  It is a major improvement on the prior 2003 settlement, which made some significant progress in developing new magnet school options, but ultimately fell short of the agreed upon goals.  The new Settlement Agreement commits the state to provide enough spaces to meet the demand of Hartford students for magnet schools, Choice placements and other eligible choices.  The Settlement defines long-term compliance as meeting the demand of at least 80% of Hartford minority students for magnets and choice.  The Settlement also requires concrete improvements that will help make it easier for families to participate in Sheff schools.  These improvements include:  A single application process for Hartford-resident minority students who wish to apply to any Sheff program; a new information service center for families seeking information and advice on educational options; general marketing and targeted recruiting in historically underrepresented communities to let families know about Sheff options; academic and social support services for students participating in interdistrict schools, particularly to support out-of-district students; expanded options for pre-schools; and review and improvement of transportation services for students in Sheff schools

 

     During the last fiscal year, we pursued and were successful in obtaining on behalf of the Commissioner of Higher Education an injunction against Donald Lane d/b/a D & L Tractor Trailer School, which was operating a private occupational school after its state certification had expired.  D & L continued charging students thousands of dollars in tuition fees, despite its lack of certification.  Also on behalf of the Department of Higher Education, we obtained a consent order prohibiting Laser Centers of Connecticut from operating a private occupational school without a license.

 

     In another education-related matter, Blumenthal v. Highville Mustard Seed Development Corp., this office was successful in petitioning the Superior Court for the appointment of a receiver for a charter school to manage the school during its transition to a newly constituted corporation and board.     This is the first time a receiver has been used in this manner in Connecticut.

 

     The past fiscal year was extremely busy in terms of nursing home issues.  Our office was heavily involved with respect to the fifteen Connecticut nursing homes that were part of the Haven nursing home chain.  When Haven filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11, the Attorney General secured the appointment of a Chief Restructuring Officer to exercise financial control over the company and a patient care officer to oversee all decisions affecting patient care.  In addition, we worked to secure the appointment of a patient care ombudsman for the facilities by the bankruptcy court.  Our office worked extensively with the Department of Social Services and the Department of Public Health to successfully sell the homes to new operators. 

 

     We also provided assistance to the Department of Social Services in connection with the investigation of the financial viability of the Marathon nursing home chain.  As the office was filing a receivership petition, the chain filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11.  This office worked to secure the appointment of the state long-term care ombudsman as the patient care ombudsman for the facilities by the bankruptcy court.  We continue to monitor the case.

 

     In fiscal year 2008, our office negotiated the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the Department of Social Services challenging the inability of Medicaid-covered children and adults enrolled in Medicaid managed care to adequately access covered dental services (Carr v. Wilson-Coker, No. 3:00CV01050 (AVC)).  The settlement was approved by the legislature and is pending in the U.S. District Court for a “fairness hearing.” The terms of the settlement require DSS to “carve” dental services out of managed care, raise Medicaid rates of reimbursement to prescribed levels and take a series of clearly defined steps designed to improve access to dental care.

 

     We continued to work with the Department of Public Health to further its role as a health regulatory enforcement agency.  These activities included, among others, obtaining an injunction in State v. England that prohibits the defendants from selling hearing aids without a license, and achieving the voluntary surrender of a day care facility license held by North Haven YMCA in connection with an administrative proceeding in which numerous charges, some of which were safety-related, had been brought against the license holder.  We were also successful in defending a number of challenges to the regulatory authority of DPH and the licensing boards, including the granting of a motion to dismiss an injunction action seeking to preclude the Nursing Board from issuing a decision in a pending administrative proceeding, and the granting of a summary judgment motion in a federal lawsuit which claimed that the manner of administration of a state licensing examination violated equal protection and Rehabilitation Act rights of the plaintiff.

 

     Our office continued to provide a broad array of legal services to the Connecticut State University System this past year.  Some of these services included assisting with the preparation and/or revision of policies of the Board of Trustees, determining whether activities under consideration by the System universities complied with applicable laws and regulations, providing advice and guidance to the Chancellor, System Office senior staff and university presidents on a wide variety of issues, assisting the System in the finalization of its Financial Aid Code of Conduct and Lender Code of Conduct, assisting with the development of a policy regarding employee inventions, revising the System’s Asset Valuation Manual and Surplus Property Procedures and defending claims against the System filed in the Superior Court and with the Office of the Claims Commissioner, Freedom of Information Commission and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

 

     Our office continues to provide oversight of all University of Connecticut related legal matters. This responsibility continues to increase as the University grows and higher education matters become more complex.  Some of the significant activities of this office relating to the University of Connecticut during the past year included working with the University in connection with the dissolution of the University of Connecticut Educational Properties, Inc., coordinating the University’s response regarding three subpoenas from the Recording Industry Association of America concerning thirty-six University students, working closely with University staff and committees to ensure employees and users of University IT systems and facilities comply with litigation hold notices pertaining to electronically-stored information and counseling senior administrative officials on building and safety code issues at University student residential facilities.  Our office was also involved in negotiations and reviews relating to more than 600 University of Connecticut contracts.  Some of the more significant contracts include a major corporate sponsorship agreement for athletics with Nike USA, Inc., six janitorial contracts totaling over $20,000,000 for janitorial services for all University campuses except the Health Center and three large contracts for improved telephone and radio reception on campus and sponsorship of the Division of Athletics.  This office continues to provide representation on behalf of the University before administrative agencies such as the Office of the Claims Commissioner, the Freedom of Information Commission and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, as well as in state and federal court.

 

     The University of Connecticut Health Center presents broad and challenging legal issues that arise from the operation of an academic health center with a budget approaching $800 million.  Significant legal advice was given in the areas of human resources, human subjects research, scientific misconduct, medical treatment, HIPAA compliance, medical staff issues, residency program issues and the Health Center’s Correctional Managed Care program.  In addition, our office appeared regularly at probate hearings relative to the hospital’s two locked psychiatric wards, engaged in a broad range of lease and contract negotiations and appeared before various administrative agencies, including the Office of the Claims Commissioner, the Freedom of Information Commission and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.  In addition, we have been active in advising the Health Center’s rapidly growing Office of Audit, Compliance and Ethics to ensure full compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations.  A federal lawsuit that was brought by a former patient who claimed that a School of Dental Medicine student improperly instigated his arrest by the West Hartford Police was dismissed.  We are also assisting the Health Care Fraud Department in representing the John Dempsey Hospital in negotiations and a lawsuit against managed care companies that have failed to timely and adequately reimburse the hospital for services rendered to covered patients.

 

     The members of the Health and Education Department within the Office of the Attorney General work hard to provide the legal services required by the many agencies we represent and advise.  At the end of the 2008 fiscal year, this Department had 209 state and federal court cases pending at the trial or appellate level, as well as 187 administrative proceedings pending before various state agencies.  Additionally, more than 3,300 contracts were reviewed within this Department during fiscal year 2008.

 

Health Care Fraud/Whistleblower/Health Insurance Advocacy Department

 

     The Healthcare Fraud/Whistleblower/Health Insurance Advocacy Department had an extremely busy, important and successful year.   

 

     Of note this year was the Health Care Fraud Unit’s involvement in the Haven Healthcare bankruptcy proceedings.  Haven Healthcare consisted of 25 nursing homes throughout New England, 15 in Connecticut.  On the day before Thanksgiving 2007 these 25 operating companies, along with numerous other affiliated companies, filed petitions for reorganization in Bankruptcy Court.  The same day the Attorney General filed motions to appoint a trustee in all cases, based upon allegations that the company owner had inappropriately and illegally transferred numerous assets of the Haven companies to benefit himself and other personal investments.  The Bankruptcy Court quickly appointed a Chief Restructuring Officer accountable to the court, effectively ousting the company owner from control of the companies.  All of the operating companies were transferred to new operators.

 

     The Health Care Fraud Unit recovered more than $10.25 million dollars, bringing the Unit’s total recoveries to over $68 million in eleven years.  The majority of the dollars recovered this year came from settlements involving the pharmaceutical industry, most notably approximately $5 million from Merck and $3 million from Purdue Pharma.

 

     The Department also continued to prosecute suits against several medical providers who were illegally billing Medicaid and commercially insured patients.  These providers tried unsuccessfully to have the court dismiss our cases.  The court uniformly rejected these attempts and have required the providers to answer our complaints and provide us with additional information.

 

     The Health Care Advocacy Unit (“HCAU”) has continued to assist patients and their doctors by resolving disputes with managed care.  The broader issues addressed during fiscal year 2008 have been denials of coverage for medically necessary care, the manner in which rates for coverage of out of network medical care are established and utilized by managed care companies, potentially misleading consumer advertising for genetic testing, and physician profiling by managed care companies.

 

     Of note are the following two significant settlements that were reached with HCAU participation in fiscal year 2008: the settlement between the Connecticut Department of Insurance and Assurant Health, et. al., which encompassed a far-reaching action plan to correct its anti-consumer practices, restitution of approximately 1 million dollars and a historically high 2.1 million dollar penalty; and the settlement between the Office of the Attorney General and the Infectious Diseases Society of America over antitrust violations, which establishes a rigorous conflict of interest-free review of its 2006 guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. 

 

     On the legislative front, the HCAU participated in the drafting of language that closed a significant loophole in the Connecticut Parity law on coverage for residential care for mental health and substance abuse treatment.  The new language, enacted in P.A. 08-125, eliminates barriers to medically necessary residential treatment by removing requirements that the patient be an adolescent, that the treatment be provided within three days of an acute hospitalization, and that the residential treatment be an alternative to acute hospitalization. 

 

     The HCAU continues to work with the Child Advocate to ensure that children in this state receive the healthcare they require.  It has also helped consumers during fiscal year 2007-2008 recover over 1.1 million dollars, over and above the amount recovered for consumers pursuant to the Assurant settlement.  These recoveries for consumers derived primarily from illegally billed services and improperly denied claims

 

     The Whistleblower Unit continues to investigate numerous high level and complex matters involving a wide variety of officials and agencies.  The Unit completed a comprehensive, in-depth review and issued a report concluding that a Worker’s Compensation deal for an $80 million “Loss Portfolio Arrangement” (“LPA”) was badly handled, possibly costing the state millions of dollars.  This investigation into a highly complex “privatization” scheme concluded that the Department of Administrative Services hired a consultant to advise them who lacked the expertise to properly evaluate claims slated for privatization.  Based upon the flawed analysis, DAS entered into a contract for the LPA, likely significantly overpaying for the LPA and failing to achieve the anticipated savings. 

 

     This department continues to obtain recoveries against those responsible for the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority’s loss of $220 million in a failed energy scheme with the now bankrupt Enron energy company.  The present fiscal year’s recoveries for CRRA and its member towns totaled $4,745,000, bringing our overall recovery to date to approximately $165 million.  We continue to pursue other defendants in this matter.

 

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 workers’ compensation staff represents the Second Injury Fund in cases involving potential liability of the Fund for workers’ compensation benefits and 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 owed 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 4000 hearings before workers’ compensation commissioners, and in over 100 new unemployment compensation cases in the Superior Court.

 

     In addition, department attorneys and paralegals were responsible for recouping $35,320.45 for the Second Injury Fund and $814,361.57 for the State of Connecticut through third party interventions.  This money represents a reimbursement to the state of money that has been paid out in workers’ compensation benefits for injuries caused by a third party.   Finally, department attorneys were responsible for the collection of $206,219.43 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 Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s ruling holding that a Special Act allowing suit against the State in a wrongful death action lacked a public purpose.  In Bogle-Assegai v. CCSU, the federal district court rejected the plaintiff’s claims of race discrimination and retaliation finding that there was no evidence of either in granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.  Favorable 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 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. 

 

     This past year has been consumed with the initiation, prosecution and defense of several major lawsuits and appeals.  In DOT v. L.G. Defelice this office is seeking recovery of all state costs resulting from the complete failure of the drainage system installed by L.G. Defelice for the reconstruction of I-84 in the Cheshire/Waterbury corridor.  After a sinkhole opened up in the early winter of 2006, DOT discovered that the drainage system was a complete failure and the catch basins, metal beam rails and light poles were installed incorrectly over 3 ½ miles of highway.  This office worked with DOT to correct those construction failures and pursue those companies responsible for the severely deficient work.  In State of Connecticut v. Lombardo Bros. et al., the Attorney General is pursuing contractors who are responsible for the construction failures of the façade and massive leaks at the UCONN Law Library.   In State of Connecticut v. Bacon Construction et al, the Attorney General is seeking compensation for the massive leaks at many of the buildings at York Women’s Prison in Niantic. In State of Connecticut v. MAXIMUS Inc, the Attorney General is suing to recover payments made by the state and other damages arising from Maximus’ failure to provide the Departments of Information Technology and Public Safety with a working new COLLECT System for law enforcement activities and motor vehicle violations. In State of Connecticut v. Lamar, we are seeking compensation for the unauthorized clear cutting of eighty-four mature trees on DOT’s property. 

 

     In addition, this Department successfully defended or prosecuted several noteworthy appeals before the Connecticut Supreme Court, among them:  Department of Transportation v. White Oak, overturning a lower court’s decision which would have allowed White Oak to rearbitrate the same issues it had previously lost and in which judgment in favor of the state in the amount of $1.17 million was awarded and confirmed by the court; C.R. Klewin v. James Fleming et al, overturning a trial court’s decision ordering the state to pay Klewin a purported settlement; Bingham v. DPW, in which the plaintiff appealed a declaratory ruling from DPW that the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act did not apply to the sale of the Norwich State Hospital to the towns of Preston and Norwich. 

 

     Procurement issues and responsibility determinations of apparent low bidders on DOT and DPW construction projects and DAS procurement awards continue.  This department counsels the DOT, DPW and DAS on all procurement and construction and bidding matters.

 

     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. 

 

     This Department handles all matters involving the Department of Motor Vehicles including all drunk driver cases and complaints regarding dealers and repairers and the emissions program.  The successful defense of these cases results in keeping the roads safe from drunk drivers by enforcing the law and helping to close any loopholes in our drunk driving statutes.

 

     The Department is also responsible for handling Historic Commission matters and now and then is called upon to seek the court’s protection of historic properties which face destruction by owners or developers.  See C.G.C. §22a-19a.  One case currently before the Court for a second time is the matter of the Grumman St. John House, part of the Norwalk Inn in Norwalk in which the owner was enjoined by the court from destroying the historic property.  Because the owner has refused to protect the property from further deterioration, the state is again before the court seeking an order for restorative measures.  

 

     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 and the many foreclosures in which the state has an interest in the property.  We have issued Notices to Quit to state employees as well as non-employees to transition employees to rent payers 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 Merritt Parkway service plaza 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 telecommunication 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.  We disposed of 7 eminent domain appeals by trial, 18 eminent domain appeals by stipulated judgment, 3 voucher approvals and 17 administrative settlements, and received 33 new appeals during the last fiscal year. There are currently 77 eminent domain appeals in litigation.   We counseled the DOT regarding the divestiture of 60 surplus properties.  

 

     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.  The value of our legal services to the DEP in real property transactions totaled $21,754,870.  These services included 40 conveyances of real property, 14 leases, 34 open space grant agreements, 29 conservation easements, and a total of 10 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 challenges on siting issues.   During the past year, we provided legal counsel and review of 37 leases, 28 license agreements, and 106 contracts.  This is exclusive of DPW real estate transactions in the form of deeds (1) and easements (3) and purchase and sale agreements (3).  

 

     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, we 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. 

 

 

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 60% of entry-level attorneys and 45% of middle and high-level attorneys.

 

Volunteer Programs

 

     The Office of the Attorney General welcomes volunteers who desire to help and assist the people of Connecticut.  In this past fiscal year, volunteers have played a key role in achieving the public service goals of the Attorney General.

 

     This office currently has 10 volunteer consumer advocates who directly assist consumers in resolving problems they encounter when purchasing goods and services and helping them obtain the refunds or bill credits to which they are entitled.  In this past fiscal year, these volunteers donated approximately 700 hours to work for Connecticut consumers.

 

     This office also manages a volunteer summer intern program for students.  While the interns are generally law school students, high school, college and graduate school students also participate.  These interns are given an inside view of the state’s largest public interest law firm, assist in critical investigations and legal actions undertaken by the Attorney General and help serve the state and its people.

 

     This past fiscal year, 68 interns took part in our volunteer program, working a total of more than 7,000 hours.  The total cost to this office for those two volunteer programs was approximately $1,000 for incidental expenses.