As a part of the Public Entity Defense Group, Winifred appears in trial and appellate courts throughout Connecticut, including federal courts, representing public officials, law enforcement officers, boards of education, land use commissions, firefighters, emergency response personnel, and all other municipal employees. Her practice focuses on defending a range of general and professional liability claims, including negligence, nuisance, highway defect, environmental, and all civil rights claims, including claims under 42 U.S.C 1983, the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Section 504 Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Prior to joining the Firm, she served as a law clerk for the Rhode Island Supreme Court’s Trial Law Clerk Department in Providence.
Stevens v. Town of West Hartford
Stevens v. Town of West Hartford: In this case a pedestrian was walking on an area of the road that had its underlayment washed out due to a problem with a pipe, and the pavement caved in, causing the P to fall into a depression and injure his leg. From above the pavement was smooth asphalt, no way to tell it was washing out beneath, no prior cave-ins there or anywhere else on the road. Defendants do not typically file for summary judgment on defective highway claims because the 13a-149 elements are fact specific and not amenable to summary judgment. But the notice issue was so one sided this was a case to try for a summary judgment. After briefs and oral argument the Court granted summary judgment, holding that no jury could ever find the Town had notice of defect with opportunity to cure.
Chapdelaine v. Town of Brookfield et al.
Chapdelaine v. Town of Brookfield et al.: This suit arose out of an injury sustained to the minor plaintiff’s finger while attending school. The minor plaintiff was placed in seclusion per his Individualized Education Plan, and suddenly rushed at the door as it closed, causing his finger to get caught. On a motion for summary judgment brought by the defendants, the Superior Court held that insofar as the minor plaintiff’s claims were based on violations of the IDEA those claims were barred by failure to exhaust administrative remedies. As to the minor plaintiff’s claims of negligence, the Superior Court held that the claims were barred by governmental immunity. Specifically, the Superior Court found that there were no specific policies or directives in place regarding how the minor plaintiff was placed in seclusion, and that the minor plaintiff did not satisfy the identifiable victim in imminent harm exception to the immunity defense because the dangerous condition of the minor plaintiff rushing at the door was not apparent to any of the defendants.
Francoeur v Griswold Board of Education
Francoeur v Griswold Board of Education: This suit arose out of an incident in a middle school lunch line where the minor plaintiff was the subject of horseplay on the part of her fellow students that resulted in her being touched on the buttocks. The minor plaintiff brought various claims for Title IX violations and violations of substantive due process, as well as state law negligence claims. The defendants removed the case to federal court and filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion was unopposed as to substantive due process claims, while remaining state law negligence claims were remanded to State Court. The District Court granted summary judgment as to the remaining Title IX claim, finding that the minor plaintiff failed to show that the Board of Education acted with deliberate indifference, and that no reasonable fact finder could find that the incident was so severe as to deny the minor plaintiff equal access to educational resources or opportunities.
Lowe v. Town of Mansfield et al.
Lowe v. Town of Mansfield et al.: This suit arose from the Planning and Zoning Commission granting a special permit application for an efficiency unit to a Town resident. Several of the resident’s neighbors strongly opposed the granting of this application and brought suit against the Town, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and various individual Town employees and officials, alleging that granting the permit was a violation of the Fair Housing Act and their procedural due process rights. The defendants removed the action for federal court, where, upon a motion to dismiss, the Court found that the plaintiffs’ claims under the Fourteenth Amendment failed due to a lack of a protected interest in real property, and the FHA claim failed to state a prima facie case for discrimination on the basis of failure to accommodate. Plaintiffs’ sole remaining state law claim was dismissed for lack of supplemental jurisdiction.