Howd & Ludorf, LLC wins at Connecticut Supreme Court in Police Pursuit Case

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Howd & Ludorf, LLC Partners Thomas R. Gerarde and Kristan M. Maccini have won a major victory for Connecticut municipalities, and police officers in particular, before the Connecticut Supreme Court in the case of Borelli v. Renaldi. The suit stemmed from a police pursuit in the town of Seymour that ended in fatal injuries to a passenger in the pursued vehicle. The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Officer Renaldi based on governmental immunity in a 6-1 decision, with the majority opinion written by Justice Khan. There were two concurring opinions, from Chief Justice Robinson and Justice D’Auria, and a 69 page dissenting opinion from Justice Ecker. The CT Supreme Court’s decision affirming that the shield of governmental immunity applied in this case is a big win for all municipal police departments. Police pursuits historically have not been winnable based on governmental immunity, due to a court finding that the duty to obey motor vehicle laws is mandatory and/or finding that the person who was injured qualified for the exception to immunity applicable to identifiable persons who are subject to imminent harm. This decision holds that the duty owed during emergency operation is discretionary and that public policy favors the non-applicability of the exception to a passenger in the pursued vehicle. It will be helpful to police officers, and municipalities in general, in current and future lawsuits for injuries that occur during emergency vehicle operations.