At a Glance
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Attorney General
Established – 1897
Statutory authority – CGS Sections 3-124 to 3-131
Central office – 55 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106
Average number of full-time employees – 311
Recurring General Fund operating expenses - $27,870,000
Revenues generated - $509,877,612
Among the critical missions of this office are to represent and advocate the interest of the state and its citizens as vigorously as possible, to ensure that state government acts within the letter and spirit of the law, that public resources are protected for present and future generations, that the quality of life of all our citizens is preserved and enhanced, and that the rights of our most vulnerable citizens are safeguarded.
The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the state. The Attorney General's Office serves as legal counsel to all state agencies. The Connecticut Constitution and common law 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 2009-2010 fiscal year, $509,877,612.
A. Revenue Generated for General Fund
Tobacco Settlement Fund Collections $128,977,357
Child Support Collections 40,610,652
Tax Collection 5,193,485
Health Care Fraud Recovery 41,799,832
Recovery for Environmental Violations 1,027,534
Consumer Protection Penalties, Costs
& Forfeitures 1,662,841
Antitrust Restitution 190,766
Department of Social Services Collections 1,381,105
Department of Insurance Collections 143,750
Department of Administrative Services
Antitrust Fees, Costs & Civil Penalties 355,501
Gift from Jones Trust 439,310
Miscellaneous Collections 1,640,383
Tribal Gaming Settlement 25,328,800
Public Safety/Maximus Settlement 2,500,000
Total Revenue for State's General Fund $255,606,393
B. Revenue Generated for Special Funds
John Dempsey Hospital $ 257,058
Second Injury Fund $ 133,184
Department of Consumer Protection 149,167
Comp re State Employees 481,227
Unpaid Wage and Unemployment Tax 169,746
Total Revenue Generated for Special Funds $1,190,382
C. Revenue Awarded or Paid to
Consumers and Businesses
Consumer Protection Restitution $ 2,817,176
State Child Support Collections for
Connecticut Families 210,514,868
Charitable Funds Recovered or Preserved
for Charitable Purposes 34,454,000
Consumer Restitution from Home
Improvement Contractors 635,413
Refunds for Connecticut utility consumers 590,000
Antitrust Restitution 1,300,000
Recoveries for Environmental Projects 2,369,933
Rental Security Deposits Returned 26,627
Consumer Health Insurance Restitution 372,820
Total Revenue Generated for Consumers $253,080,837
TOTAL OF REVENUE ACHIEVED $509,877,612
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. The overall work completed by this office in fiscal year 2009-2010 is summarized as follows:
Court cases completed 18,463
Court cases pending 35,373
Legal documents examined 6,257
Administrative Proceedings 2,354
Appeals completed 155
Appeals pending 209
Formal opinions issued 10
The Attorney General supported legislation to protect workers, patients and consumers. Working with patient advocates, the Attorney General obtained legislative approval to prohibit most
gifts from pharmaceutical companies to doctors – gifts that may sway physicians’ prescriptions – and to require public disclosure of hospital adverse medical events. Electricity rates would have
been lowered and renewable sources of electricity encouraged under legislation that the Attorney General advocated which was passed by the General Assembly but vetoed by the Governor.
The Attorney General supported legislation to increase the civil penalty for businesses that misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying required benefits to
workers. The legislation, approved by the legislature, also improves the state’s attorneys’ ability to bring criminal actions for willful violations of the law. Finally, parents of children with
autism spectrum disorder worked with the Attorney General on successful legislation to require boards of education to use Behavior Analyst Certification Board certified analysts when such
analysis is required as part of a special education curriculum.
Health Care Fraud/Whistleblower
The Department brought the first case in the nation in which a state Attorney General enforced the federal HIPPA requirements for the protection of patients’ confidential health information. Recent changes in federal law allow state Attorneys General to enforce HIPPA. In the landmark case, State of Connecticut v. Health Net, the Attorney General sued a managed care company that lost computer files containing protected health and personal information of over half a million Connecticut residents. This case resulted in enhanced protections to the residents whose rights were violated, a corrective action plan to increase the security of the information maintained by the company and a $250,000 payment to the State.
The Health Care Fraud Unit achieved an outstanding result in its case against drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company. Lilly paid $25.1 million to the State of Connecticut to resolve allegations regarding the illegal marketing of Zyprexa and concealing the drug’s serious side effects. Similarly, in a case involving Pfizer, we recovered approximately $8.8 million.
Another important case involved the civil prosecution of Roy Katz and RG Pharmacy, Inc. that resulted in the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services excluding RG Pharmacy and Roy Katz for seven years from all the Connecticut Medical Assistance Programs. We also recovered for taxpayers over a half a million dollars from RG Pharmacy and Katz.
The Health Care Fraud Unit recovered more than $41 million dollars during this fiscal year, bringing the Unit’s total recoveries to $120 million in thirteen years. The majority of the dollars recovered this year came from settlements involving the pharmaceutical industry.
The Health Care Advocacy Unit (“HCAU”) has continued to assist patients and their doctors by resolving disputes with managed care companies in fiscal year 2010. In addition to a number of successes obtaining coverage for treatments for conditions such as cancer, pulmonary diseases, gastrointestinal disorder, and infectious diseases, the HCAU has also helped citizens resolve disputes with health care providers, including disagreements involving alleged balance billing -- compelling the withdrawal of a number of private collections suits in which it determined that illegal balance billing was occurring.
The HCAU also had great success with the drafting and the legislature’s passage of several major health reform bills. Public Act 10-122 expands the transparency and accountability of hospitals and certain other providers in terms of making the public aware of “adverse events” at hospitals and also gives expanded rights to people filing complaints against health care providers. In addition, Public Act 10-117 requires that each pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company on or before January 1, 2011 adopt and implement a stringent Code of Ethics governing their interactions with health care professionals.
Assistance for senior citizens who are having trouble with their Medicare benefits continues to be an area of focus for the HCAU. The HCAU assisted consumers in obtaining the significant premium offsets that were due them under the extended offset provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In addition, the HCAU continues to work with the Child Advocate to ensure that children in this state receive the health care they require. It has also helped consumers during fiscal year 2010 recover approximately $385,000, derived primarily from illegally billed services and improperly denied claims.
The Whistleblower Unit completed a comprehensive review of allegations and concluded that the Department of Revenue Services failed to properly safeguard taxpayer information, contributing to the potential harm when a DRS laptop computer was stolen. The report included recommendations for DRS to better track and protect sensitive taxpayer information.
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 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 entities. 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, credit rating, healthcare, trash and pharmaceutical industries, among others. All told, the Department’s initiatives are focused on securing restitution for injured consumers, including state agencies and programs, small businesses and individuals, and deterring anticompetitive conduct.
In this fiscal year, the Department continued its emphasis on investigating and prosecuting anticompetitive and illegal practices engaged in by insurance carriers and brokers. The practices at issue: bid rigging, steering of business to preferred insurers in return for lucrative undisclosed compensation, and other anticompetitive and illegal behavior, have cost Connecticut citizens dearly -- both individuals and corporations, as well as Connecticut municipalities and state agencies -- in the form of higher premiums for their insurance. Through our work, we have been able to provide restitution to the State of Connecticut and its consumers and businesses for violations of Connecticut law.
On October 22, 2009, the Attorney General entered into a $1.3 million settlement with The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (“Hartford”), resolving claims that it participated in several anticompetitive schemes that illegally inflated insurance and reinsurance costs nationwide. The Hartford settlement stems from the Attorney General’s ongoing litigation against Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC (“Guy Carpenter”), one of the world’s largest reinsurance brokers. The lawsuit alleges that Guy Carpenter orchestrated a series of conspiracies with dozens of reinsurers that illegally inflated the costs for insurance companies and consumers nationwide. From 1986 through 2003, Hartford participated, as a reinsurer, through its subdivision, Hart Re Company. As part of the settlement, The Hartford agreed to cooperate in the Attorney General’s ongoing litigation. The restitution from the settlement will go to the state’s general fund.
Coming shortly on the heels of the settlement with Hartford, the Attorney General announced on April 21, 2010 a court victory in his litigation against Acordia, Inc. (“Acordia”), one of the largest insurance brokers in the United States. In the ruling - - the first time a court ruled on the issue of whether a broker had a duty to disclose its receipt of contingent compensation -- the court held that Acordia violated its fiduciary duty to its clients by failing to disclose the receipt of contingent compensation from insurers in exchange for giving those insurers preferential treatment. The court ordered Acordia to account for how much it earned in undisclosed contingent compensation after which it will issue an order of restitution to Acordia’s Connecticut clients affected by the illegal conduct.
The past two years have 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. Due to concerns raised by these issues, the Attorney General launched an investigation of the three major U.S. credit rating agencies: Moody’s Corporation (“Moody’s”), Standard & Poors (“S&P”) and Fitch, Inc. (“Fitch”) which culminated in lawsuits against Moody’s, S&P and Fitch for their alleged role in a systematic scheme to deceptively and unfairly underrate tax free debt issued by the state of Connecticut and its municipalities. The Attorney General’s continued investigations of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch with respect to their credit ratings practices for other structured securities, i.e., collateralized debt obligations, residential mortgage backed securities and structured investment vehicles, led to a second phase of lawsuits against Moody’s and S&P for knowingly assigning tainted credit ratings to risky investments backed by sub-prime loans.
Those lawsuits, filed on March 10, 2010, allege that Moody’s and S&P, despite public representations that their respective credit ratings were independent and objective, in fact were tainted by their desire to cater to the demands of their issuer clients’ requests for higher ratings and the credit ratings agencies own goal to earn lucrative fees. As a result, many structured finance securities that contained a great deal of credit risk undeservedly received Moody’s and S&P’s highest rating.
The Attorney General initiated an investigation of several national hotel chains regarding their practice of engaging in “call-arounds”. The investigation found that call arounds, where competitors share current pricing and occupancy information, are prevalent in the hospitality industry and raise serious competition concerns because the information can be manipulated to raise or stabilize rates charged for hotel rooms. On April 1, 2010, the Attorney General announced the first settlement in this ongoing investigation, settling with national hotel chain La Quinta Inns. As part of the settlement La Quinta agreed to end the practice of call around for all of its hotels across the United States.
Merger enforcement has long-been a high priority within the Attorney General’s antitrust enforcement regime and this year was no exception.
In conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission, the office initiated a review of Dow Chemical’s proposed sale of Morton Salt to Germany’s K+S AG (“K+S”), which owns International Salt (“ISCO”). The proposed sale would have made K+S the largest road salt supplier in the United States. In Connecticut, ISCO and Morton Salt were two of only a handful of road salt suppliers. After an eight month long investigation, the Attorney General concluded that if the merger was consummated as initially conceived, it would likely substantially reduce competition for bulk deicing salt in Connecticut. In order to preserve competition in this important market, the Attorney General and K+S entered into an agreement requiring the merged entity to divest certain assets to enable a new competitor to enter and compete. In addition, ISCO paid the state $40,000 for the costs of investigation.
Access to affordable health insurance for uninsured Connecticut residents is an issue that legislators and regulators continue to grapple with. In an effort to address the problem, in the Fall of 2008, the State of Connecticut implemented the Charter Oak Health Plan (“Charter Oak”), a state-sponsored healthcare program designed to provide affordable health care coverage to Connecticut adults, aged 19 to 64. Beginning in November of 2008, the Attorney General launched an investigation of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (“Anthem”) after learning that Anthem may have been using contractual clauses in its contracts with Connecticut hospitals to deter certain hospitals from participating as providers in Charter Oak because certain of its individual healthcare products competed with Charter Oak. At the time the Attorney General commenced his investigation, less than half of the state’s hospitals were participating in Charter Oak, with no hospitals in Middlesex and Windham counties participating. On January 28, 2010, the Attorney General announced that his office had reached an agreement with Anthem where it agreed to waive the clauses in its contracts that threatened to deter hospitals from participating in Charter Oak. Since the agreement, eight additional hospitals have agreed to participate in Charter Oak, including hospitals in Windham and Middlesex counties.
Ensuring competitive markets in the pharmaceutical industry has been one of the Attorney General’s highest priorities over the last few years and this past fiscal year showed no letup in the Department’s focus on this ever-important industry. On January 7, 2010, the Attorney General announced a settlement of 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 alleged that the companies maintained monopoly power by improperly obtaining patents for TriCor while knowing the patents were unenforceable, making minor changes in drug formulation to impede generic entry and other anticompetitive conduct. The $22.5 million settlement agreement entered into by Connecticut and 24 other states will result in restitution to the state of $224,714, which includes reimbursement to Connecticut’s Medicaid program for covering TriCor prescriptions.
The market for trash removal services in Connecticut has long been dominated by a handful of powerful companies. Throughout the 1990s and first half of this decade, the market in Southwestern Connecticut was controlled by James Galante through his web of interconnected businesses. In 2006, the federal government indicted Galante on various criminal charges alleging that he masterminded a criminal enterprise bent on stifling competition for trash hauling that resulted in higher prices for trash removal for his commercial and municipal customers. Following Galante’s conviction in 2008, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against him in October 2009 in an effort to recover the illegal profits Galante obtained through the inflated prices he charged his small business customers. The lawsuit is pending in the complex litigation docket in Hartford Superior Court.
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, consumer protection investigations, appearances before state and federal agencies on consumer matters, and litigation under various state and federal laws with a major reliance on the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).
Consumer Education and Mediation
We continue to further our core mission by opening lines of communication with the community and consumers to educate consumers, reduce victimization and mediate disputes. This year we attended senior and safety fairs, sponsored by members of the Connecticut Legislature, throughout the state to raise awareness about consumer issues, including how to avoid scams, what resources are available for consumers that have been victimized and how consumers can avoid being victimized.
Our office has worked with TRIAD, a group comprised of representatives from law enforcement, government agencies, the business community and seniors, to reduce criminal victimization of seniors, raising awareness of seniors and those working directly with seniors on community specific crime and crime prevention information and educating law enforcement on how to work more effectively with seniors. We were instrumental in securing the keynote speaker, U.S. Attorney Marc Litt, lead prosecutor in U.S. v. Bernard Madoff, for the 8th Annual Triad conference.
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 3,593 consumer complaints during this fiscal year. Over $963,997 was refunded or credited to Connecticut consumers due to the mediation efforts of the Department.
Our office along with forty-three other Attorneys General offices reached a settlement with Pfizer, Inc. resolving allegations that the drug manufacturer promoted the prescription drug Geodon for a number of off-label uses, including pediatric use and use at dosage levels higher than had been approved by the FDA. Connecticut received $614,793.
We led a multistate investigation of the Smart Choices front-of-package food labeling campaign. Our investigation resulted in the suspension of the program – which had been supported by some of the country’s major food manufacturing companies – and we monitored the national phase-out of the program.
In addition, Connecticut along with forty-five other states announced a $5.991 million multi-state agreement (of which Connecticut received $125,000) with DISH Network, LLC resolving allegations that it engaged in deceptive sales practices and harassing unwanted telemarketing calls.
Forty-one Attorneys General, including Richard Blumenthal, reached a settlement with TJX Companies, Inc., which operates T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods stores for $391,023 and to upgrade its data protection systems, resolving allegations that an unauthorized individual gained access to the company’s computer systems and seized cardholder data and other personally identifiable information.
We entered into a multi-state AVC with Vonage Holdings Corp. The investigation addressed the following allegations: Vonage’s offer of service through a “free trial or “risk free” offer; the offer of a “money back guarantee;” failure to disclose material terms, including the time required to port a number, time required to obtain equipment, limitations on time and minutes under the “money back guarantee,” charges relating to cancellation, and that high speed internet service is required in order to use Vonage service. The AVC requires Vonage to provide clear and conspicuous disclosures relating to material terms, provide restitution to consumers who previously submitted complaints and pay $3.0 million to the participating states.
AT&T Prepaid Phone Card Multi-State Investigation relates to lack of clear and conspicuous disclosure regarding how minutes on prepaid phone cards are used. For example, the AT&T prepaid card represents on the front of the card that it is worth “150 minutes.” Below this, the card includes the qualification, in smaller print, that this is for “state to state” minutes; the rates for international calls are higher, and the rates for in-state calls may be higher. In fact, in Connecticut, a one minute in-state call would use three minutes of the 150 minutes. For other states the deduction would be up to eight minutes for an in-state call. The multi-state investigation is progressing.
Financial, Real Estate & Investment
Connecticut filed suit against VRM Mortgage Company, Inc., Roman Realty, Inc., Victor Roman, Jose Flores d/b/a/ Harvard Financial Services, and Tony Mojica, alleging they colluded to mislead consumers and mortgage lenders by falsifying loan applications and luring borrowers into unaffordable loans.
We obtained a judgment against Michael Petriccione and his companies, Mediations, Inc. and Innovations NE, LLC, following allegations that he used false endorsements to entice consumers to do business with his companies and accepted advance payments for commercial loan brokering services, in violation of Connecticut law. The judgment provides for $230,150 in consumer restitution and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from engaging in loan brokering services in Connecticut.
Richard Blumenthal sued FHA All Day.Com, Inc. for allegedly charging Connecticut Homeowners tens of thousands of dollars and then failing to deliver on promises to help them avoid foreclosure.
Connecticut announced that Countrywide Financial Corp. is paying $1.27 million to 370 state residents who lost their homes to foreclosure because of the company’s abusive and unfair practices.
Other Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices
Our office has investigated a series of closures of local heating oil companies that have caused significant financial hardship to consumers, particularly those who entered into long-term pre-paid contracts with those 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 worked through each asset sale to maximize customer benefits and is in the process of returning $1 million to former F&S customers.
Our office brought a first in the nation federal law suit against HealthNet and its corporate affiliates, after HealthNet lost a computer disk drive in May of 2009 containing protected health and private information of approximately 495,420 Connecticut citizens. Our lawsuit was the first in the nation brought by a state to enforce the federal law, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Under the amendments to HIPAA by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), state Attorney Generals are authorized to enforce HIPAA health information privacy and security protections. Importantly, the lawsuit included counts for violations of CUTPA, based on the company's failure to disclose the security breach until November, 2009. Even before the lawsuit, our office was successful in negotiating stronger protections for individuals than those which HealthNet was initially set to offer. These enhanced protections included two years of credit monitoring for affected individuals, together with $1 million of identity theft insurance, as well as reimbursement for the placing and lifting of security freezes. In settling this case, HealthNet and its affiliated corporate entities have agreed to a "Corrective Action Plan" in which HealthNet will establish detailed measures to comply with HIPAA and other best data practices to ensure protection of health and other private information, a civil penalty payment representing statutory damages to the state in the amount of $250,000 and a contingent payment to the state of $500,000, should it be established that the lost disk drive was accessed and personal information used illegally impacting a significant number of plan members.
Lakeview Monument Co., LLC shut its doors after taking tens of thousands of dollars from consumers as payments or deposits for cemetery headstones and monuments and failed to deliver on those agreements. Our Department reached a civil settlement of $78,000 with Lakeview Monument for restitution to approximately 74 consumers.
Connecticut reached a settlement with Valerie Hawk-Hoffman d/b/a Sunrise Herbal Remedies, Inc. a/k/a Sage Advice, Inc. and Herbs and Teas, settling a state lawsuit alleging unwanted deliveries and abusive collection practices for a total of $88,000 in full refunds to consumers.
New England Pellet LLC of Enfield and its owners will pay at least $55,000 in restitution to consumers to settle allegations that it accepted prepayments for wood pellets it was later unable to deliver.
Prosecution of Unscrupulous Home Improvement Contractors
This Office remains active in criminally prosecuting unscrupulous home improvement contractors and unlicensed real estate brokers and agents, accepting 106 cases this year for prosecution which yielded $635,412.83 in court-ordered restitution to victims.
Our office settled a CUTPA action against a new home construction company, Bowden Development, and its principal, Lloyd Bowden. Mr. Bowden filed for bankruptcy protection but the stipulated judgment allowed the victims access to DCP's guaranty fund.
In DPUC Docket No. 10-02-08, Turris /Sanzone, the Attorney General led an effort to secure refunds for customers who were defrauded by an electricity aggregator. The aggregator overcharged the customers, many of which were municipal school boards, by $348,726.09. The Attorney General secured $375,000 in direct refunds to the customers in question.
In DPUC Docket No. 0808-54, Wintonbury, the landlord improperly sub-metered natural gas service for the tenants. The Attorney General secured refunds and credits to these tenants in the amount of $190,000.
Electric generators located outside of the New England electric control area (grid) collected $65 million in fees from New England ratepayers to provide electricity if needed. These generators, however, bid their electricity into other markets in a manner that clearly indicated that they had no intention of providing electricity to New England. The Attorney General, the OCC and DPUC filed a petition at FERC to secure refunds of this money and to ensure that such conduct does not occur in the future. This matter is pending at FERC.
In NRG v. Maine DPUC, et al., the Attorney General argued before the United States Supreme Court, challenging the application of the so-called “Mobile-Sierra” doctrine (a FERC doctrine that provides that rates that are set by consensual contract agreements are presumed to be “just and reasonable”) to rates that are set by tariff rather than by contract agreement. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to determine if the rates in question were contract or tariff rates.
The Attorney General has also appeared in numerous cases where utility companies have sought to increase their rates. In all of these cases, this office has fought these increases because higher utility costs penalize consumers and disadvantage Connecticut businesses and the state economy.
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 appellate courts. In addition, the Child Protection Department defends DCF in all administrative appeals to the superior court.
Since July 1, 2009, this department has closed 3,936 juvenile court cases; most of these cases were closed with children returned home to their family. A smaller percentage of children were adopted or were placed with relatives who became their new guardians. Between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010, the department opened 4,429 cases. Currently pending are 8,278 cases, representing 7,686 children. A number of these children were the subject of both neglect petitions and termination petitions. Over the course of the year, the trial courts sustained 1476 orders of temporary custody.
This Department is also responsible for one of the largest appellate caseloads in the office. Last year, the department successfully represented the Department of Children and Families in numerous appeals before the Appellate and Supreme Court.
Of particular note were several wins at the Supreme Court, on behalf of abused and neglected children. In In re Jorden R., 293 Conn. 539 (2009), the Supreme Court ruled that a trial court properly terminated the parental rights of a mother after her infant son was severely injured while in her care. DCF could not determine which parent was responsible for the injuries, although the father had shown violent tendencies toward the mother and the child. After the child was removed, the parents surreptitiously reunited. The trial court found the mother was unwilling or unable to benefit from reunification efforts and the Supreme Court affirmed that the statutory scheme was satisfied once that finding was made.
The office successfully defended another termination decision before the Supreme court in In re Tayler F., 296 Conn. 524 (2010). There the question was the admissibility of the children’s statements made to a police officer and to others, over the mother’s hearsay objections. For the first time, the Supreme Court ruled that children should not be forced to testify against their parent where the child would be psychologically harmed if called as a witness. The Supreme Court relied on evidence that requiring the children to testify in such cases presented a risk of psychological harm. Because the children were not available to testify, their statements could be admitted as reasonably necessary under the residual exception to the hearsay rule. The ruling was important because in many cases, a neglected or abused child would be adversely affected by being called as a witness against their parent; however, their statements can be admitted as evidence, provided there is specific evidence showing likelihood of serious emotional harm if a child were required to testify.
The Appellate Court, in In re Jasmine B., 121 Conn. App. 376 (2010), concluded that the termination statutes were not unconstitutionally void for vagueness. In that case, the father’s past sexual misconduct and his daughter’s allegations of inappropriate contact by the father were the subject of the court’s concern. Despite the fact that no court specifically ordered the father to obtain therapy, there was evidence that a court-appointed evaluator had recommended it, and DCF had urged the father to participate in therapy. Therefore, the father had adequate notice that the court would consider his efforts to address these concerns and his failure obtain therapy supported the trial court’s conclusion that he had failed to rehabilitate.
Similarly, when a parent fails to accept responsibility for his past aggression and misconduct with children, a trial court may properly conclude the parent has failed to rehabilitate. In In re Jaiden S., 120 Conn. App. 795 (2010), the Appellate Court affirmed the termination of parental rights after the father failed to report that he was a registered sexual offender.
The importance of compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) was highlighted in In re Yarisha F., 121 Conn. App. 150 (2010). In that case, the trial court determined that the child’s maternal great-grandmother, who lived in Florida was a suitable caretaker for the child and ordered DCF to place the child in Florida, despite the fact that Florida’s interstate compact office had not approved the placement. The Appellate Court reversed, in the first case concerning the ICPC, concluding that state law mandated that juvenile courts lacked authority to send a child out of Connecticut without the prior approval of the state where the child would be placed. In this case, after the trial court’s order, Florida rejected the requested placement because of the terrible conditions of the great-grandmother’s home.
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 Division of Special Revenue and the Office of Policy and Management. Legal issues involving state regulation of the financial services industries form a major part of this department’s work.
Given recent abuses uncovered in our nation’s financial markets, investigating and prosecuting illegal securities schemes and deceptive or unfair investment practices has been a priority for the Finance Department. In particular, the Department sued Westport National Bank and the administrators of a pension and employee benefit plan for allegedly offering and selling unregistered investment vehicles to their clients. The clients’ money was eventually turned over to Bernard Madoff and was lost to Mr. Madoff’s notorious ponzi scheme. The Department has also sought enforcement of a subpoena on behalf of the Commissioner of Banking against several hedge funds in connection with an investigation of potential violations of the Connecticut Uniform Securities Act. Both of these matters are pending in the Superior Court.
With the continuing difficult economic climate and the general decline in the housing market, increasing numbers of Connecticut homeowners are having difficulty paying their mortgages and are facing the threat of foreclosure. A substantial portion of the Finance Department’s resources over the past year continue to be 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, including facilitating application and acceptance to the federal Making Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and offer other help to distressed homeowners. This has become a particularly pressing area as the downturn in the economy has caused many Connecticut homeowners to lose jobs and income. The Department attempts to assist these Connecticut citizens at a time when they are under serious stress and lack the ability to obtain private legal assistance. Over the past year, the Department has offered assistance to several hundred Connecticut citizens who have contacted the office in these difficult circumstances.
Additionally, many Connecticut renters face eviction when their landlord is forced into foreclosure. In many cases, the renter has no notice of the foreclosure proceeding and is current on their rent to the landlord. Together with legal aid organizations, the Finance Department investigated violations of state and federal laws (such as the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act) requiring that renters be given sufficient notice before an eviction can occur, be allowed to stay in their apartments until the end of their lease (provided the tenant is complying with the lease), and that so-called “cash-for-keys” offers be of a sufficient amount. The Department wrote to approximately 30 real estate agencies, banks, and law firms across the state that were significantly involved in the foreclosure process to remind these entities of their legal obligations. Where violations or potential violations were uncovered, the Department worked with offending companies to ensure compliance with the law and received written assurances from companies that their future practices would be in compliance with the law.
In addition to assisting homeowners and renters, the Department also assists consumers in a wide range of complaints involving financial services. Such complaints include banking issues such as inadequately disclosed fees or account charges, claims of securities fraud or broker misconduct, and insurance complaints about claims handling and premium increases. Department attorneys assist complainants in dealing with a state or federal agency with jurisdiction over the matter or attempt to intervene directly with the bank or company to resolve a complaint.
As an outgrowth of these efforts, the Department was one of only two state Attorney General offices to submit written comments to the U.S. Federal Reserve on the implementation of the federal Credit Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act. Under the CARD Act, the Federal Reserve sets rules on the amount of penalty fees that may be charged consumers, as well as rules requiring credit card companies to periodically review interest rate increases. In line with the Attorney General’s written comments, the Federal Reserve promulgated final regulations requiring that arbitrary interest rate hikes implemented by many banks before the effective date of the CARD Act must be reviewed under standard credit application rules. Also in line with the Attorney General’s written comments, the Federal Reserve issued regulations requiring that penalty fees cannot exceed the dollar amount of the violation in question and that multiple penalties cannot be charged for a single violation. Finally, in response to the Attorney General’s written request, the Federal Reserve issued final rules confirming that Connecticut’s Gift Card law banning expiration dates, dormancy and other fees that eat into the value of a gift card, was not preempted by the CARD Act. This office was the only state Attorney General in the nation to submit comments on this aspect of the CARD Act.
The Finance 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 investigations with the Insurance Department, including prosecuting an illegal insurance business that offered hole-in-one event insurance but failed to make good on claim payments. When requested, the Department has also provided advice to the General Assembly on the legality of novel tax programs under consideration by the General Assembly.
The Finance Department is responsible for enforcement of the master settlement agreement between the states, including Connecticut, and various participating tobacco product manufacturers and related tobacco issues. In addition to ensuring that Connecticut receives the monetary payments it is owed by tobacco manufacturers, department staff has taken legal actions against tobacco companies that market their products to youth or engage in other unfair advertising practices. As part of this work, the Department reached a settlement with the RJR tobacco company over its “Camel Farm” advertising campaign. The settlement included injunctive relief and a payment to the state of $150,000.
The Finance Department also represents the Department of Public Utility Control and the Connecticut Siting Council in all legal matters at the state and federal level. In particular, this Department has successfully defended appeals by Connecticut’s gas utilities challenging the retail rates set by the DPUC for local natural gas distribution service. In addition, attorneys representing the DUC are involved in numerous challenges to DPUC decisions regarding electricity rates and telecommunications service.
Child Support & Collections
The Collections/Child Support Department is dedicated to the expeditious recovery of monies due to the State and the establishment of orders for the support of children. The Department represents the Department of Administrative Services/Collection Services in matters involving the recovery of reimbursable public assistance benefits, other state aid and care, and costs of incarceration and the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement within the Department of Social Services in matters for the establishment of child support orders and collection of child support. Additionally, the Department provides legal services in connection with the enforcement of child support orders to the Support Enforcement Services division of the Judicial Branch. Department staff also provide a full range of litigation services for the collection of debts, other than child support, owed to the Departments of Social Services, Revenue Services, Correction, and Higher Education, as well as the Unemployment Division of the Labor Department, John Dempsey Hospital, the Second Injury Fund, the Connecticut State University System, the Office of the Secretary of the State, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and various other state agencies, boards and commissions on a case-by-case basis.
In fiscal year 2009-2010 Department attorneys recovered cash payments on debts owed to the state of slightly less than thirteen million dollars.
The Department’s activities in the establishment of child support orders traditionally produce large caseloads. In fiscal year 2009-2010 just over 10,000 cases were opened in all child support categories and almost 11,000 files were closed during the period. These cases occurred in both the Superior Court and the Family Support Magistrate division and involved the establishment of orders for support of children wherever they or the custodial parent may be. Department attorneys actively argued cases on behalf of children who resided not only in the State of Connecticut, but also on behalf of children who resided in other states and countries, pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. In addition to their functions establishing support orders for children, the Department’s attorneys participated in probate and superior court matters to protect the support rights of children involved in proceedings brought by parents seeking to terminate their parental rights.
Coincident with their child support responsibilities, the Department attorneys were also engaged in a wide variety of other litigation activities during the fiscal year in addition to those that resulted in the recovery of significant sums on behalf of state agencies. In a case of first impression, one of the Department attorneys successfully argued and obtained a trial court judgment establishing that a state agency holding a statutory lien upon real property is not required to file a claim with the probate court following the death of the real property owner and, therefore, the state’s claim was properly payable from the sale proceeds of the real property. Vandale v. State of Connecticut, Superior Court, Judicial District of New London, Docket No. CV-09-5010398-S. A Department attorney successfully defended the Department of Revenue Services’ disallowance of a corporate taxpayer’s improper interest expense deductions taken over several years resulting in additional corporate tax liabilities of $11,000,000.00. Journal Register East, Inc., Chapter 11, Case No. 09-10794, S.D.N.Y. And in Daticon, Inc., Chapter 7, Case No. 06-30034, D.Conn. a Department attorney prevailed in upholding the Department of Revenue Services’ audit assessment for corporate taxes and sales and use taxes resulting in the collection of over $1,000,000.00 in additional taxes during this fiscal year.
Continuing with an initiative commenced three years ago, a Department attorney worked in conjunction with members of the Office of the Secretary of the State to recover payment of fees, penalties and interest due from foreign corporations and other foreign business entities doing business in Connecticut without first having complied with the statutory registration requirements for legally conducting business in Connecticut. This initiative resulted in the collection of slightly less than $1,200,000.00 in fees, penalties and interest during the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
The Department concluded over 1,950 litigation matters involving the recovery of debts owed to the numerous state agencies, boards and commissions for which collection services were provided during this fiscal year. In addition to the more routine debt collection cases, Department attorneys litigated numerous cases involving significant payments on debts owed to the state. In Estate of Shore a Department attorney successfully argued the legal enforceability of the state agency’s statutory lien and recovered $526,473.00 in public assistance reimbursement. And in Estate of Onugbolu the Department recovered $410,213.74 in accident-related medical public assistance benefits. In Estate of Savage a member of the Department successfully argued that assets held by a public assistance beneficiary’s attorney were available and, as a consequence, recovered $350,000.00 representing improperly received public assistance benefits. In Estate of Becker a Department attorney recovered $242,954.12 for the reimbursement of state humane institution costs of care. In addition, there were numerous other cases litigated by Department attorneys, each resulting in recoveries in excess of $100,000.00 on behalf of state agencies.
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 140 employment cases in the state and federal courts, as well as more than 150 complaints before the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
During the past year, the department successfully defended state agencies in several significant cases. We are continuing to defend the Department of Correction in a lawsuit in which unsuccessful applicants for correction officer positions are challenging the validity of the physical fitness test administered to candidates for that position. Because of the hazardous nature of the job of correction officer, we are vigorously defending the DOC’s policy of requiring candidates to meet a reasonable level of physical fitness in order to be hired for the position.
In addition, we prevailed in numerous other cases in the state and federal courts. Significantly, we were able to obtain favorable rulings on eleven summary judgment motions that were filed, eliminating the need for trials in those cases. We also obtained partial summary judgment rulings in four other cases and filed an additional thirteen such motions, which are pending rulings by the courts. We obtained verdicts in favor of state agencies in three cases that were tried in the courts and are awaiting rulings in two other cases. In addition we prevailed in two cases that were tried in the Office of Public Hearings at the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and are awaiting a decision in one other case. 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.
Two of the cases that went to trial involved 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 successfully defended the rights of workers who come forward to report misconduct or incidents of violence or threatened violence in the workplace. These cases are significant because of the chilling effect that such lawsuits have on the willingness of employees to come forward and report such incidents or to cooperate in investigations being conducted by the employer.
We also successfully defended several appeals during the past year. We obtained favorable rulings from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in ten such appeals. In addition, we are working on eight pending appeals in the state and federal appellate courts.
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. We continued to assist the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in training employees who have been designated to represent their agencies in discrimination complaints filed with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. In addition, we continue to provide training to new state managers through a program sponsored by the Department of Administrative Services.
This year, we had an important success in our
battle against the nation’s five largest contributors of greenhouse gases from
the electric generating industry. We
alleged in Connecticut v.
We carried on our litigation against aging and uncontrolled Mid-West power plants that violated the Clean Air Act. Prevailing winds blow much of this pollution into Connecticut. In December of 2009, Connecticut, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other states involved in the suit settled a case against Cinergy Corporation (now Duke Energy Corp.) for violations of the Clean Air Act at its plant in Indiana. The settlement requires an overall emission reduction of SO2 of 85 per cent. Cinergy is required to pay $1.7 million in penalties and millions of dollars for environmental projects.
We continued our actions against Allegheny Energy for Clean Air Act violations from its coal-fired power plant 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. Likewise, along with the state of New Jersey, we carried on our litigation against Reliant Energy for its violations of the Clean Air Act in Pennsylvania.
This year we had several significant victories in stopping illegal pollution and in obtaining civil penalties for past violations of our environmental laws. In McCarthy v. G&K Services, we obtained a $1.8 million settlement and an injunction against a facility that was emitting dangerous solvents into the air. We alleged that G&K Services of Waterbury laundered dirty shop towels and print rags in violation of the law. $500,000 of the settlement will be used by the City of Waterbury for environmental projects. We won a hard fought battle after trial against Cadlerock Properties Joint Venture for violations of a pollution abatement order issued by the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”). The court awarded a penalty of $282,000 and issued an injunction requiring the defendant to comply with the order. We obtained a penalty of $150,000 against the Chromium Process Company for violations of a previously issued stipulated judgment. In coordination with the United States Attorney’s office, we obtained $100,000 from the Phoenix Products Company in a jointly prosecuted case for violations of the water pollution control laws. We obtained a $276,000 penalty and injunction after trial against Joseph Cammarota, Camm of Stamford, Inc., and Target Disposal Services for violations of the solid waste laws. The defendants, haulers of solid waste, illegally disposed of waste at sites in Stamford.
In a landmark case against Old Southington Landfill and other responsible parties, we obtained $2.75 million in natural resource damages for the permanent loss of groundwater. The respondents paid damages to the state for their destruction of the groundwater in Southington. The money will be used by the DEP to replace the natural resource.
In our representation of the Department of Agriculture (“DOA”), we obtained an important and first of its kind decision enjoining a chronic animal abuser from owning any other animals. In a case against Paul Novicki, the court issued an order permitting the state to take custody of Mr. Novicki’s neglected animals. Mr. Novicki was also ordered not to own any animals in the future. We continued to file court actions to save abused or neglected animals, including live stock as well as domestic animals. We assisted the DOA in obtaining ownership of 145 abused animals.
We carried on our protection of the development rights acquired by the DOA through its Farmland Preservation Program. This past year, we assisted the DOA in preserving 2,769 acres of farmland by acquiring the development rights to the land.
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.
Special Litigation & Charities
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, 10,545 charities and 77 professional fundraisers are registered with the State. Registration information includes contact information for the charities, lists of current officers and directors, and the charities’ most recent fiscal year’s financials. From this information, individuals can learn the percentage of a charity’s income that is spent on its charitable program expenses, as compared to its administrative and fundraising costs. 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 Broadwater Gas Terminal. The Department’s efforts in the Broadwater case resulted in an historic victory before the U.S. Department of Commerce, effectively ending the project in its current form. Additionally, the Department continues to be involved in several court and administrative proceedings related to nuclear safety issues regarding the Indian Point Nuclear Facility located in Buchanan, New York, which is within eleven miles of Fairfield County. 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) Led eight States in bringing an action to enjoin the federal Department of Health and Human Services from implementing “midnight” regulations of the Bush Administration, commonly known as the “Provider Conscience Rule,” that would have seriously impaired women’s health and threatened billions of dollars in federal funds to Connecticut and other states. The lawsuit resulted in the Obama Administration taking steps to rescind the new rule, by issuing new proposed regulations. (2) facilitated an agreement and an equitable deviation proceeding in Probate Court that resolved a dispute between Yale (the beneficiary) and the independent Trustees of the Stoeckel Trust that had threatened to bring an end to the internationally-known Norfolk Music Festival and render a failure of the 1941 multi-million dollar bequest of the Norfolk property and $25 million in investment assets intended as a summer workshop music program for Yale. (3) Continued to defend a constitutional challenge to recent amendments to the State’s “Bottle Bill” laws that sought a temporary injunction prohibiting the State from enforcing those new laws and collecting millions of dollars in bottle deposits. (4) Defended an action challenging the constitutionality of the State’s Campaign Finance Law in federal court. (5) Prosecuted 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. (6) 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. (7) Successfully defended a lawsuit against an announced candidate for the Office of the Attorney General that claimed the qualifications for office contained in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 3-125a were unconstitutional under the State Constitution.
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.
Public Safety & Special Revenue
This department represents the Department of Public Safety, including the Division of State Police, the Division of Fire, Emergency and Building Services; the Military Department; the Department of Correction; the Department Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and the Department of Consumer Protection Liquor Control Division. It also provides legal services and representation to a number of associated boards, commissions and agencies, including the Division of Criminal Justice, the Division of Public Defender Services, the Office of Adult Probation, the Governor's Office (Interstate Extradition), the Statewide Emergency 9-1-1 Commission, the State Codes and Standards Committee, the Crane Operator's Examining Board, the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners, the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Police Officer Standards and Training Council, and the Office of Victim Services. Within the last year, the department has also been assigned litigation matters involving the Department of Consumer Protection, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Children and Families.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION
Although we provide legal services to and represent a variety of state entities in the areas of public safety and criminal justice, a substantial portion of our work is in representing the many interests and obligations of the Department of Correction. Much of this work is done 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, and our pending corrections cases in the district court alone comprise nearly 12% of the federal docket. 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 damages claims, and preserve the state's authority in administering an extremely difficult prison population free of costly and onerous court oversight as has been the experience in other states. In addition, this department has assisted in the collection of thousands of dollars in costs of incarceration.
A great number of inmate claims are brought as habeas corpus cases, and in that forum we continue to defend numerous challenges involving conditions of confinement and the application of the "good time" statutes to multiple sentences. Many of these reach the Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts, where our attorneys continue to shape and develop state prisoner rights law. Additionally, we have been required to expend considerably more time and resources defending the agency in proceedings related to Freedom of Information requests from inmates for such dangerous materials as sewer plans for prisons, personnel files of DOC employees, photos and police reports listing the victims of inmates' crimes, and documents that the Commissioner of Correction has determined to present a risk of harm in the prison environment.
Our department is currently handling a number of wrongful death and medical malpractice cases pending in state and federal courts that continue to require considerable commitments of time and resources. Examples of these cases include: the successful defense of a jury verdict in favor of twenty-three corrections employees in a wrongful death matter (Wiseman v. Armstrong); obtaining a permanent injunction allowing the forced feeding of an inmate engaged in a life-threatening hunger strike (Lantz v. Coleman); and a Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversal of a district court decision that restricted the way in which DOC classifies and manages violent sex offenders (Vega v. Lantz). We also continue to actively participate in federally-monitored consent decrees that govern the management of female inmates and inmates who are HIV-positive.
In addition to our considerable litigation commitments, we continue to advise the Commissioner of Correction on a myriad of legal issues, including: management of death row and other high profile inmates, maintaining appropriate services for mentally ill offenders, developing and maintaining appropriate administrative directives, working with federal authorities to effectuate the deportation of offenders who have been ordered to leave the United States, and implementing safety and security procedures that protect staff and the public while also accommodating evolving constitutional standards as articulated in developing case law. Our attorneys also provide instruction at the DOC training academy on legal issues arising in corrections.
BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLES
We continue to defend a number of cases involving the Board of Pardons and Paroles. These cases involve challenges to the Board's authority relative to the granting, rescission and revocation of paroles. In addition, we have been assisting the Board in developing and adopting regulations necessary for the functioning of the Board. In particular, we have worked with the board to develop protocols designed to manage high risk offenders sentenced to periods of special parole, and to assure parole officers may search parolees, their residences, computers and other personal property to ensure parolees are not engaging in behaviors that increase the likelihood of reoffending. Lastly, we have provided the Board with training on legal issues involving its hearing procedures.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
We have the responsibility for the defense and representation of almost all the lawsuits involving the State Police seeking money damages, the exception being those lawsuits involving cruiser accidents that are covered by the state's fleet insurance policy. Our caseload of police litigation continues to grow in both number and complexity, and includes false arrest and excessive force cases, wrongful death claims arising from police shootings and contract claims arising from the agency's relationships with outside service providers. 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, and to review regulations implementing the various building codes. We also routinely appear on behalf of the department in state and federal court and before the Freedom of Information Commission to address the many different statutory provisions that mandate confidentiality, and even erasure, of police records. Lastly, we continue to review and provide advice to the department on a number of contracts and memoranda of understanding for the department, in particular, resident trooper agreements between the department and more than forty municipalities around the state.
BOARD OF FIREARMS PERMIT EXAMINERS
During the past year, we provided legal advice and representation to Board of Firearms Permit Examiners on a number of issues. We have handled several appeals to the Superior Court from the Board's decisions, and continue to field many requests related to the concealed and open carrying of firearms under Connecticut law. In the last year, we consulted with the BFPE and other law enforcement agencies to address a number of requests for declaratory rulings related to firearms issues. 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 have handled a number of administrative appeals involving the Liquor Control Division. In addition, we provided the Division with advice on a number of legal issues concerning enforcement of the liquor law.
STATE MARSHAL COMMISSION
We provided legal advice to the State Marshal Commission on several matters during the past year. This work has continued even though the responsibilities of the Commission were consolidated with the Department of Administrative services at the end of the legislative session. Our efforts on behalf of the Commission included assisting in responding to complaints regarding state marshals, developing protocols and appropriate training for marshals who have authority to serve criminal process, and guidelines for serving process on behalf of pro se litigants. Lastly, we have collaborated with the Commission in developing legislation to improve the state marshal system.
DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE & DIVISION OF PUBLIC DEFENDER SERVICES
We have appeared and defended numerous cases involving the Division of Criminal Justice and the Division of Public Defender Services. These cases often raise constitutional questions and governmental immunity, and relate to the core duties of prosecutors throughout the criminal justice process. In addition, we work closely with the Office of the Chief State's Attorney and the several State's Attorneys in areas of overlapping jurisdiction, such as civil in rem proceedings related to fireworks, defense of the state's "risk warrant" statute allowing seizure of firearms from persons deemed to be dangers to themselves or others, and the co-defense of complex habeas corpus matters in state and federal courts.
Our department continues to work closely with the Military Department on a variety of issues, including litigation arising from construction projects in and around Camp Hartell and questions arising from one of the ceremonial military units that wishes to operate independently of the authority of the Military Department.
PROSECUTION OF HOME CONTRACTORS
Several of our attorneys are also designated as special assistant state's attorneys, and prosecute new home construction contractors and home improvement contractors for a multitude of crimes including failure to obtain proper licensing, refusing to refund deposits, and with the consent of local prosecuting authorities, felonies such as larceny and related crimes against the elderly.
Health, Education and Human Services Department
The Health and Education Department provides legal services and representation to a broad spectrum of state agencies, which include 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.
The department received significant complaints regarding shortages of seasonal flu vaccines last fall including specifically the inability of Connecticut visiting nurse associations (VNAs) to secure vaccines ordered prior to the onset of the flu season. The office secured an agreement with the vaccine manufacturer to not only supply the Connecticut VNAs with the full amount of requested supply of seasonal flu vaccine, but also to double the doses it would supply to VNAs nationwide.
As in past fiscal years, the department was very busy with nursing home issues. In two cases involving nursing homes that had filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11, the department was instrumental in securing trustees to operate the nursing homes. In the case of Village Manor nursing home, the trustee was appointed after it was discovered that the owner and president of the corporation had diverted large sums of the nursing home’s funds through excessive rent payments to the landlord that he also controlled. In the another case involving West Rock Health Care Center, this office was successful in having a trustee appointed after the Department of Public Health (DPH) inspected the facility in response to resident complaints and found the facility unable to properly care for its patients.
In Department of Social Services v. University Place, the office was able to return to private operation a residential care home that had been placed in receivership after this office secured a settlement that provided necessary assurances and changes in operations to make the facility financially sound, thus allowing the residents to remain in the home.
In Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities v. Rell, the for-profit nursing home association claimed that the state method for setting rates for nursing homes violated federal law. The department secured a ruling from the federal district court dismissing all but one claim and denying a request for preliminary relief. The case remains on appeal.
We continued to work with the Department of Public Health to further its role as a health regulatory and enforcement agency. These activities included, among others, obtaining the surrender of the license of Connecticut Plastic Surgery Center, LLC of Ridgefield, an ambulatory surgery center, and the license of the physician-owner due to unsanitary and unsafe conditions at the facility. Other examples included assisting DPH in obtaining the voluntary surrender of the license of Kids Count Learning Center, a day care center, due to a host of regulatory violations, including failure to report abuse and neglect and a child falling through an unsecured window. In another day care case, the department assisted DPH in securing a consent order for 5 day care centers in which the operator had a substance abuse problem. The consent order required removal of the operator, transfer of the licenses to a new operator, a civil penalty and a ban on the operator from being employed at a facility until she had successfully completed a substance abuse treatment program and follow up reports demonstrating continued sobriety and ability to return to providing day care services. The office also negotiated a surrender of Precise Care’s home health agency license on behalf of DPH. DPH’s investigation had shown care vastly below the standard of care for home health agencies in Connecticut.
We were also successful in defending a number
of challenges on appeal to the regulatory authority of
In Okeke v. Commissioner of Public Health, the Appellate Court upheld the determination of DPH to protect the integrity of the state vital records system when it refused to change the last name of a minor child on a birth certificate without a court order due to a dispute between the parents as to their intentions at the time the child was born. The Court held that DPH correctly interpreted its statutes related to vital records. The office was also involved in numerous matters involving environmental health, including asbestos, sewage treatment and public water systems. For example, the department was involved in securing compliance with DPH orders against two drinking water systems.
The plaintiffs in the Sheff v. O’Neill litigation went back to court during the past year challenging whether the State was in compliance with the terms of the 2008 settlement of the case. The department was successful in defending the efforts of the State Department of Education and the court rejected the claim that the results of its efforts failed to meet the requirements of the settlement.
Our office continued to provide a broad array of legal services to the Connecticut State University System during this past year. These services included providing advice and guidance on a wide variety of issues.
Our office continues to provide services for the many legal matters involving the University of Connecticut. This responsibility continues to increase as the University grows and higher education matters become more complex. The department attorneys expend substantial time on legal review, negotiation and approval of highly complex transactions and contracts. These range from negotiation and execution of a multi-million dollar sponsorship-rights agreement for the university’s athletics department to separation of an outpatient physical therapy services clinic from a local hospital to become an independent teaching and treatment facility at the university. 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 continues to present 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 including the HITECH amendments, the hospital’s medical staff, medical and dental student and residency programs, and the Health Center’s Correctional Managed Care program. In addition, our office appeared regularly at probate hearings relative to the John Dempsey Hospital’s two locked psychiatric wards, engaged in a broad range of lease and contract negotiations, reviewed contracts, and appeared before various administrative agencies including 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. This includes monitoring the Certification of Compliance Agreement entered into two years ago with the Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services. We continued to be successful in litigation avoidance. We are assisting the Health Care Fraud Department in representing the John Dempsey Hospital in both negotiations and a lawsuit against managed care companies that have failed to timely and adequately reimburse the hospital for services rendered to covered patients. Finally, we have spent considerable time providing advice to the Health Center relative to the legislation authorizing the construction of a new hospital bed tower, collaborative ventures with area hospitals and the transfer of the John Dempsey Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
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 2010 fiscal year, this department had 151 state and federal court cases pending at the trial or appellate level, as well as 87 administrative proceedings pending before various state agencies. Additionally, more than 2540 contracts were reviewed within the department during fiscal year 2010.
Workers’ Compensation/Labor Department
In District Lodge 26 of the Int’l Ass’n of Machinists and Aero. Workers v. United Techs.Corp., No. 3:09-cv-1494, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13848 (D. Conn. Feb. 17, 2010), the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut held that Pratt & Whitney violated its collective bargaining agreement with the union by transferring jobs outside the State of Connecticut without making every reasonable effort to preserve the work in the bargaining unit, as required by the contract. The court issued an injunction prohibiting the employer from transferring the jobs until the expiration of the contract in December, 2010. The State of Connecticut filed two amicus briefs in support of the union in the District Court, and Attorney General Blumenthal participated in oral argument before the court. The District Court’s holding was based on the employer not acting in good faith with regard to its substantive obligation to make every reasonable effort to preserve the work, and the employer’s lack of good faith in responding to the State’s offer of financial concessions. Pratt & Whitney appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Briefs were filed in the Second Circuit, including an amicus brief we filed on behalf of the state. Attorney General Blumenthal participated in the oral argument before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued an opinion affirming the judgment of the District Court.
In Addona v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 121 Conn. App. 355 (2010), the Connecticut Appellate Court held that telephone hearings in unemployment compensation appeals were not unconstitutional as a violation of due process and the agency’s reliance on hearsay evidence did not prejudice the plaintiff in view of other evidence, including plaintiff’s own testimony, supporting the agency’s findings. This is the first appellate court decision in Connecticut upholding the constitutionality of telephone hearings for unemployment compensation claims. It is also significant in upholding an agency’s reliance on hearsay evidence in administrative agency decisions as long as the agency’s conclusion is supported by other evidence as well.
In State v. CSEA, 117 Conn.App. 54 (2009), the State won a reversal of the trial court’s denial of our application to vacate an arbitration award. The basis for the reversal was that the arbitrator exceeded the parties’ submission when he reinstated a Department of Correction lieutenant, who had been demoted to correctional officer for disciplinary reasons.
In Lopa v. Brinker International Inc. et al., (SC 18303), the issue before the Connecticut Supreme Court was whether the United States Postal Service is an employer under Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Act. A determination of this question was important to the Second Injury Fund, which would have been liable for payment of concurrent employment benefits pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-310 if the claimant prevailed in her claim that the Postal Service was an employer under the Act. On a broader scale, a finding in favor of the claimant would have obligated Connecticut employers to pay workers’ compensation benefits in cases involving the Postal Service and similar quasi public entities which do not contribute to the pool that funds our workers’ compensation system in general or the Second Injury Fund in particular. The Court concluded that the US Postal Service is not an employer under the Act and, therefore, the Fund was not liable to pay the claimant concurrent employment benefits pursuant to § 31-310.
In Thomas v. Department of Developmental Services, (SC 18458), the issue before the Connecticut Supreme Court was whether the statutory lien provisions contained in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-293(a) entitle an employer to a credit for unknown, future workers’ compensation benefits that it may become obligated to pay to an injured employee in the amount of the net proceeds that the injured employee received from a judgment against or settlement with a third party tortfeasor. The claimant argued that the statutory lien only entitles the employer to recover payments made up to the date of the judgment or settlement of the third party action. We argued that the entitlements conferred on the employer by the lien provisions are coextensive with those of an employer who intervenes or initiates his own lawsuit. Based on statutory language, case law, legislative history and public policy, the Court ruled in favor of the State by finding the lien provisions as providing coextensive rights of recovery with those provided by the vehicles of intervention and direct action. Both the State and the Second Injury Fund will benefit from this decision.
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 and reflect the varied activities and services in which the state is involved - from providing direct treatment to those with mental disabilities to operating schools and colleges, having recreational parks and swimming areas, being a landowner and controlling many buildings and other premises, obtaining custody of abused/neglected children, or holding those arrested by police in Judicial cells. 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 and settlements for the State in the courts and at the Claims Commission.
We have aggressively pursued indemnification and hold harmless provisions in contracts between the state agencies and contractors providing services who under their contracts were responsible for the activities resulting in the personal injury actions. Where state contractors and/or their insurers have not quickly stepped up to defend and indemnify the State in these actions, we have sought and obtained compensation for our attorneys’ time and for expenses. In one case, we collected $50,000 in attorney’s fees from a contractor which delayed for a considerable time in indemnifying the State.
In the past year, we obtained some notable legal decisions, including:
The Department was successful in the vast majority of the many slip and fall actions filed. In addition, good settlements were reached in various personal injury cases. Further, 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 Department of the Office of the Attorney General provides
representation for the following state agencies: Department of Transportation
("DOT"); Department of Public Works ("
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
This past year has been consumed with the prosecution and defense of several major lawsuits and appeals. Of special note is the state’s settlement of the matter of State of Connecticut v. MAXIMUS Inc, in which the State alleged that Maximus’ failed to provide the Departments of Information Technology and Public Safety with a working new COLLECT System for law enforcement activities and motor vehicle violations. Maximus and its subcontractor Advanced Technologies Inc. agreed to pay the state $2.5 million in settlement of this dispute. Unfortunately a jury did not agree with the State in the matter of State of Connecticut v. CPC, in which the Department of Information Technology accused CPC of fraudulently concealing CPC’s omission of a part required by contract to be included in the purchase of nearly 10,000 computers for use by State agencies. Finding the jury award to be excessive the court set aside the jury’s damages award of $18 million and reduced it to $1.5 million. The entire case is on appeal.
The Transportation Department is pursuing damages in the following ongoing cases: State of Connecticut v. Lombardo Bros. et al., involving the construction failures of the façade and massive leaks at the UCONN Law Library; State of Connecticut v. Bacon Construction et al, involving the construction failures resulting in the massive leaks at many of the buildings at York Women’s Prison in Niantic; and State of Connecticut v. Lamar, involving the unauthorized clear cutting of eighty-four mature trees on DOT’s property.
In addition, this Department currently has several appeals pending before the Connecticut Supreme Court which could significantly impact the prosecution of State of Connecticut v. Lombardo Bros. et al , State of Connecticut v. Bacon Construction et al as well as other construction cases since the issues involve the applicability of statutes of limitation and repose in construction cases, as well as the interpretation of a key term in Connecticut General Statute § 4-61, all matters of first impression for the Court.
Procurement issues and responsibility
determinations of apparent low bidders on DOT and
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 as was the case in the matter of White Oak v. DOT, a bridge repair project which was one of several large construction projects improving and widening the I-95 corridor. The arbitration panel awarded White Oak $8.4 million in damages which DOT is asking the court to vacate. DOT expects this matter to be eventually decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Among many of the cases this Department handles are all matters involving the Department of Motor Vehicles including all drunk driver cases and cases involving complaints regarding dealers and repairers, the emissions program as well as safety inspections. The Department’s successful work in these cases results in keeping the roads safe from drunk drivers by helping to close any loopholes in our drunken driving statutes and case law.
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. In the matter of the Grumman St. John House which is part of the Norwalk Inn in Norwalk this Department succeeding in getting the court to enjoin the owner from destroying the historic property in 2007. Since that ruling, the owner has refused to protect the property from further deterioration which, if left unprotected, would result in the defacto destruction of the property. Last year, this Department succeeded in getting the court to order the Inn to fix the damage resulting from its purposeful neglect of the house; settlement negotiations are currently in discussion.
The Transportation Department is also responsible for handling housing matters for the DECD 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 in order to transition non rent paying 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 the 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 those related to salt shed and maintenance facilities located throughout the State. During the preceding year we, in conjunction with DOT staff, have been assisting the development of various master contracts for use in all areas of contracting at both the DOT and DPW and contracts covering stimulus monies received by the federal government in the Economic Stimulus Recovery Program. We disposed of 7 eminent domain appeals by trial, 15 eminent domain appeals by stipulated judgment, 9 voucher approvals and 1 administrative settlement, and received 22 new appeals during the last fiscal year. There are currently 62 eminent domain appeals in litigation. We counseled the DOT regarding the divestiture of 53 surplus properties.
The Transportation Department also represents the DEP in property matters. Of particular significance: the provision of legal services to the DEP 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 $11,072,403. These services included 72 conveyances of real property, 11 leases, 26 open space grant agreements, 36 conservation easements, and a total of 11 easements and other agreements.
Our representation of
In addition to the noted construction, contracting, and real property 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 (e.g., wetland permits) from both Connecticut and federal regulatory agencies – e.g., the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Army Corps of Engineers and defends our client agencies in court when environmental challenges are brought.
The above recitation is a sampling of the types of activities in which the Transportation Department provides legal assistance to its assigned client state agencies.
The office of the Attorney General is firmly committed to equal employment opportunity. Nearly 54% of the full-time attorney workforce consisted of women and minorities. Women and minorities comprised 61% of entry level attorneys and 48.1% of middle and high level attorneys.
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.
Six volunteer consumer advocates helped this office assist consumers in resolving problems they encountered when purchasing goods and services and helped them obtain the refunds or bill credits to which they were entitled.
This office also manages a volunteer 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, 101 interns took part in our volunteer program, each working approximately 8 weeks. The total cost to this office for those two volunteer programs was approximately $500.00 for incidental expenses.