Connecticut
Conn. Constitution
Conn. Const. Art. 7
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-1d
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-183
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 5-262
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-147
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 8-2(a)
Conn. Gen. State §§ 10-16b, 10-16c, 10-16d, 10-16e, 10-19
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-281
Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 12-81, 12-88 and 12-119
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-50k
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51q
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-128f
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a et seq.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-58(a)
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60 et seq. (Fair Employment Practices Act)
Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 46a-81a through 46a-81r (Gay Rights Law)
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-22(a)
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-107
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-146b
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-414
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557
Conn. Gen. State § 52-571b
Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 52-576, 52-577, 52-577d, 52-584 and 52-595
Conn. Practice Book § 11-20A(h)
Conn. Practice Book § 9-18

Conn. Constitution

Plaintiff, a former public school teacher at a public high school, brought an action for money damages based upon the defendants' response to her wearing a tee shirt to school reading "JESUS 2000 – J2K". Plaintiff was told to cover the tee shirt or go home and change. Board of education was the real party in interest. Plaintiff’s free speech and free exercise of religion claims were dismissed, as were claims for unlawful retaliation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and claims under the Connecticut Constitution and Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51q. Even assuming a violation of plaintiff’s first amendment rights, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity    Case # 1158 (D. Conn.)

Conn. Const. Art. 7

See Case # 75 (Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-1d

Plaintiff, born on July 16, 1953, alleged that between 1962 and 1963 a Roman Catholic priest sexually assaulted and battered him. He asserted claims against the diocese based on negligence, recklessness, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The claims were dismissed as untimely. Conn. General Statute (C.G.S.) § 52-577d provided that “. . . no action to recover damages for personal injury to a minor, including emotional distress, caused by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual assault may be brought by such person later than thirty years from the date such person attains the age of majority.” Effective May 23, 2002, the age of majority was defined in General Statute § 1-1d as 18 years of age. The action was barred since it was commenced on September 18, 2002, more than thirty years after the plaintiff attained the age of eighteen years on July 16, 1971. However, it was only effective October 1, 1972, that an amendment to C.G.S. § 1-1d reduced the age of majority in Connecticut from 21 to 18 years of age. Accordingly, on July 16, 1971, when he turned 18, he was still a minor. Plaintiff attained his majority on October 1, 1972, when C.G.S. § 1-1d, as amended, reduced the age of majority to 18 years of age. Plaintiff therefore argued that the thirty-year statute of limitations should have first begun to run when he attained the age of majority on October 1, 1972. The Superior Court rejected plaintiff’s argument. For purposes of the statutes of limitation, plaintiff retroactively reached his majority on July 16, 1971, when he turned 18, and the 30 year limitations period began to run from said date. Hence his claims were untimely. For the court’s reasoning, see the court’s rather technical opinion   Case # 1934 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-183

See Case # 3970 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 5-262

Ruling issued by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities that it would violate the state’s Gay Rights Law if the Boy Scouts were permitted to participate in the state’s workplace charitable campaigns (a nonpublic forum) did not violate the Boy Scout’s First Amendment right to expressive association and did not violate Connecticut Agency Regulations or provisions of the Connecticut Gay Rights Law    Case # 1442N (2d Cir.), affirming, Case # 1327 (D. Conn.). Compare Case # 2580 (W.D. Wis.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-147

Application of historical district regulations to a church is permissible; church denied right to reclad its building with vinyl siding    Case # 118 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 8-2(a)

See Case # 1395 (Conn. App. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. State §§ 10-16b, 10-16c, 10-16d, 10-16e, 10-19

School required all pupils to complete a “health” education curriculum in accordance with state law. The health curriculum included instruction concerning health and safety, including, inter alia, human growth and development, disease prevention, community and consumer health, physical, mental and emotional health, including youth suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention, and safety, which could include the dangers of gang membership. The curriculum also included instruction about alcohol, nicotine and drugs, as required by state statute. In addition, the “health” curriculum included instruction about AIDS. Certain “family life” topics, made optional under state law, were integrated into the school’s health education curriculum. “Family life” topics included family planning, human sexuality, parenting, nutrition and the emotional, physical, psychological, hygienic, economic and social aspects of family life. No student was required to participate in any such “family life” program. As permitted by state law, defendants adopted an opt-out policy whereby a parent could exempt a child from attending lessons on “family life” topics and AIDS by notifying the school principal. Plaintiff father unsuccessfully attempted on First Amendment grounds to have his seventh grade son exempted from the mandatory “health education” course, believing that the matters taught were in conflict with his sincerely held religious, ethical and moral beliefs and his parental right to teach core values in the area of his son’s religious, ethical or moral beliefs. When the child failed to attend the health education class he received an “F.” Plaintiff father unsuccessfully sought removal of the “F” from the school transcript and an order requiring defendants to clarify the line between, and separate, the “health” curriculum from the “family life” curriculum. A parent’s right to direct the education of his children does not include a fundamental right to excuse his child from public school curriculum to which he objects and thus the mandatory health curriculum was not subject to strict scrutiny, but to rational reviw. The quality of plaintiff’s parental right claim was readily distinguishable from the quality of the claim of the Amish parents in Wisconsin v. Yoder. It was undisputed that the rational basis test was met. Plaintiff was not entitled strict scrutiny review because he asserted a “hybrid” claim  Case # 1425 (2d Cir. 2003), affirming, Case # 1240 (D. Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-281

Local board of education required to provide transportation for students attending a private parochial school at times the local public schools are not in session; issue was not moot    Case # 75 (Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 12-81, 12-88 and 12-119

Religious corporation’s challenge to tax assessment on its realty for years 1992 and 1993 was filed more than one year from the date on which the property was last evaluated for tax purposes and was thus untimely; although challenge to assessments for the years 1994 and 1995 were timely, property in question was not entitled to exemption because the lot had no buildings or improvements, either completed or in progress, suitable for use for charitable purposes; Connecticut law    Case # 626 (Conn. App. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-50k

See Case # 3970 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51q

Plaintiff, a former public school teacher at a public high school, brought an action for money damages based upon the defendants' response to her wearing a tee shirt to school reading "JESUS 2000 – J2K". Plaintiff was told to cover the tee shirt or go home and change. Board of education was the real party in interest. Plaintiff’s free speech and free exercise of religion claims were dismissed, as were claims for unlawful retaliation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and claims under the Connecticut Constitution and Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51q. Even assuming a violation of plaintiff’s first amendment rights, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity    Case # 1158 (D. Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-128f

See Case # 968N (Conn. App. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a et seq.

See Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse of minor; under the facts, diocese and local church held not liable under doctrines of respondeat superior or apparent authority, nor for negligent hiring and supervision; diocese did not violate Conn. Unfair Trade Practices Act    Case # 723 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-58(a)

See Case # 43 (D. Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60 et seq. (Fair Employment Practices Act)

Plaintiff, a heterosexual, Catholic female, was employed as a non-tenured public school teacher by defendant Board of Education. Plaintiff alleged that the homosexual principal of elementary school X had called plaintiff a “Jesus freak” and a “neurotic Christian” on two occasions, once in 2004 and once in 2005; had once asked plaintiff “what kind of Christian are you,” in response to plaintiff’s negative expression concerning certain other people; and had told plaintiff to “get over your Catholic guilt,” or said, “you and your Catholic guilt,” on an occasion when plaintiff was hesitant to call in sick. Plaintiff also asserted that when she mentioned that she had never seen pornography, the principal said to her, “oh, that’s your problem,” or “you need to see porn.” Plaintiff requested and was granted permission to transfer to elementary school Y, another school in the district. Eventually, upon the recommendation of the principal of school Y, who was a friend of and mentor to the principal of school X, plaintiff’s contract was not renewed. Plaintiff alleged that the Board, in violation of Title VII and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, subjected her to discrimination on the basis of her religion and sexual orientation, to unlawful retaliation, and to a hostile work environment. Holding that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case on any of her causes of action, the court granted defendant summary judgment. See court’s opinion for details   Case # 3796 (D. Conn.)

See also Case # 43 (D. Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 46a-81a through 46a-81r (Gay Rights Law)

Ruling issued by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities that it would violate the state’s Gay Rights Law if the Boy Scouts were permitted to participate in the state’s workplace charitable campaigns (a nonpublic forum) did not violate the Boy Scout’s First Amendment right to expressive association and did not violate Connecticut Agency Regulations or provisions of the Connecticut Gay Rights Law    Case # 1442N (2d Cir.), affirming, Case # 1327 (D. Conn.). Compare Case # 2580 (W.D. Wis.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-22(a)

Annulment denied; fact that marriage was solemnized in Connecticut by an Episcopal priest licensed in New York and having his ministry in New York without securing the formal consent of the bishops of Connecticut and New York as required by canon law did not invalidate the marriage under the secular law of Connecticut    Case # 302 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-107

In a suit against a local Roman Catholic Church and the Archdiocese arising from the alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff by a priest, a Roman Catholic parishioner moved to be made a party defendant claiming that he had both a legal and financial interest in the case because he was a contributor to both the local Church and the Archdiocese. He claimed that pursuant to both Canon Law and Connecticut Statutes, monies contributed to the Roman Catholic Church were held for the purposes of maintaining religious worship and for the support of the Church’s educational and charitable institutions and that neither a local church nor an archdiocese may be divested of its property because of the wrongs of abusive priests, that the payment of damages to the plaintiff out of church assets would be an illegal use of his money and would impede his free exercise of religion. The court denied the motion to intervene as of right or by permission   Case # 1974 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-146b

In affirming defendant’s conviction for sexual abuse of his stepdaughter, the Conn. Supreme Court rejected defendant’s claim that the trial court improperly admitted the testimony of his pastor in violation of the clergy-penitent privilege. The pastor was allowed to testify that during a meeting in his office with the defendant, at which the victim and her mother were present, the defendant – after initially denying that he had touched the victim inappropriately and asserting that he and the victim were “just fooling around,” – answered “Yes, I did” in response to the mother’s repeated questioning as to whether the defendant had touched the victim in certain ways. The presence of a third party generally destroys the confidentiality of a communication, precluding a claim of privilege. This rule does not apply, however, when the presence of the third party is required to achieve the purpose of the communication. Defendant argued that his statements remained confidential despite the presence of the mother and victim at the time of his admission to the pastor because the admission was made in the context of a family counseling session, where the presence of all family members was essential to the intended outcome. The Conn. Supreme Court held that, even assuming, arguendo, that defendant was correct that the Conn. clergy-penitent privilege extends to situations in which a clergy member provides marital or family counseling in his professional capacity, in order to claim the privilege the defendant had to first establish that the meeting was a family counseling session in which there was a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, in the present case, defendant could not reasonably have expected that his statements during the meeting with the pastor would remain confidential. First, the meeting lacked many of the indicia of confidentiality that characterize traditional individual and family counseling sessions. Second, the record did not support defendant’s assertion that the meeting was a family counseling session. See Court’s opinion for details   Case # 4274 (Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-414

Award rendered by a rabbinical court sitting as an arbitration panel confirmed even though witnesses did not testify under oath and even though before hearing testimony or examining other evidence in the matter, the arbitrators were not sworn to hear and examine the matter in controversy. See Case Digest for details and explication of governing statutory law   Case # 3184 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557

Connecticut’s recreational use statute did not immunize church where injured plaintiff attended festival on church grounds; although entry to the grounds was free, as was the musical entertainment, there was a charge for various recreational activities     Case # 39 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Gen. State § 52-571b

Planning and zoning commission denied Cambodian Buddhist Society’s application for a special exception allowing it to construct a temple in a farming and residential zone. At the time, there was no temple in the state available to the Society to practice its religion and the Society was renting hall space in various locations in the area to conduct its services. The Society claimed, inter alia, that denial of its application violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and Connecticut’s Religious Freedom Act (RFA). The Superior Court held that the Society failed to establish a prima facie case under RLUIPA or the RFA because it failed to show a “substantial burden” (RLUIPA) or “burden” (RFA) on its religious exercise. The Conn. Supreme Court took a different tack, holding that RLUIPA and the state RFA were inapplicable to the present case. According to the Supreme Court, because the town’s zoning regulations did not allow for an “individualized assessment,” as that term was used in First Amendment jurisprudence, the substantial burden provision of RLUIPA, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (a)(1), was not triggered and did not apply to the society’s claim. The Conn. Supreme Court opined that the “substantial burden” provisions of RLUIPA, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(a), protect a broader free exercise right than that recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court and to prove a “substantial burden” under RLUIPA a religious institution does not have to show that it has been totally excluded from a jurisdiction or that the local authority “unreasonably” limited religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within the jurisdiction. On the other hand, the term “substantial burden” is not to be read to include the effect of any regulation that inhibits or constrains the use, building, or conversion of real property for the purpose of religious exercise. Further, the “substantial burden” provision of RLUIPA does not apply to neutral and generally applicable land use regulations that are intended to protect the public health. A zoning regulation that is applicable without discrimination to all property owners in the jurisdiction and that is intended to protect the public health and safety does not constitute an “individualized assessment” under existing First Amendment jurisprudence, and hence does not trigger the “substantial burden” provisions of RLUIPA. Because RLUIPA’s substantial burden provision applies only when the government makes an individualized assessment of the proposed use, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(a)(2)(C), the provision applies only when the government has the discretion to apply a land use regulation in a manner that discriminates against religious institutions in general or against a particular religion or denomination. In the present case, although the commission had some discretion to determine whether a proposed specially permitted use was consistent with residential use, the regulations did not grant the commission the discretion to apply the standards differently to religious facilities than it applied them to the other, nonreligious uses allowed by special exception. Therefore, because the town’s zoning regulations did not allow for an “individualized assessment,” as that term was used in First Amendment jurisprudence, the substantial burden provision of 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(a)(1) did not apply to the society’s claim. Further, the record did not support a finding that the commission abused the discretion granted to it under the zoning regulations by applying the regulations in a discriminatory manner in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(b)(2) of RLUIPA. The Court also held that the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-571b, Connecticut’s Religious Freedom Act (RFA), did not apply to the society’s claim. See Case Digest for details and a discussion of the scope of the statute as compared to RLUIPA. However, the Court rejected the zoning authority’s argument that the Society, as a religious organization, as opposed to an individual, did not have standing to assert a claim under § 52-571b. The Court did, however, hold that the president of the Society did not have standing to challenge the denial of the special exception as a violation of RLUIPA or Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-571b, as any injuries that he suffered as a result of denial of the special exception were in reality derivative of injuries to the society. Having concluded that neither RLUIPA nor the state RFA applied in the present case, the Conn. Supreme Court, applying the ordinary judicial standard of review applicable to special permits, proceeded to hold that although several reasons given by the zoning authority for denying the special exception were not supported by substantial evidence, several of the reasons for denying the application were supported by substantial evidence. The Court held, inter alia, that: (1) The record did not contain substantial evidence to support the commission’s conclusion that the Society’s application for a special exception should be denied because the design of the temple was not in harmony with the design of other buildings in the vicinity. The commission found many elements of the Buddhist temple’s proposed appearance to be extremely uncharacteristic of the neighborhood, as compared to a typical New England church design, and therefore objectionable. But courts are reluctant to uphold the strict enforcement, against religious uses, of regulations that require special exception uses to be in architectural harmony with the surrounding neighborhood. Strict enforcement of such regulations effectively would prevent any “nontraditional” non-Judeo/Christian religion from building its temple in the Connecticut town. The proposed temple was a two-story building with stone facing and a low pagoda-type tile roof. Although the design contained certain details that were not typical of buildings found in a rural New England setting, the proposed temple was generally attractive, relatively modest and not entirely out of character for a place of religious worship in the neighborhood. (2) The record did not contain substantial evidence to support the commission’s conclusion that the society’s application for a special exception should be denied because the temple would create unacceptable traffic congestion and hazards. The Supreme Court disagreed with the trial court’s statement that the commission was required to disregard off-site traffic considerations. When a use is not allowed as of right, but only by special exception, the zoning authority is required to judge whether any concerns, such as parking or traffic congestion, would adversely impact the surrounding neighborhood. However, additional off-site traffic congestion may provide a basis for denying a special exception only if the special permitted use would have a significantly greater impact on traffic congestion in the area than a use permitted as of right. Moreover, the significance of the impact should not be measured merely by the number of additional vehicles generated by the proposed use, but by the effect that the increase in vehicles will have on the existing use of the roads. An increase of 100 vehicles per hour may have a negligible impact at one time or location and a ruinous impact at another time or location. In making this determination, the commission may rely on statements of neighborhood residents about the nature of the existing roads in the area and the existing volume of traffic, and its own knowledge of these conditions. Here, the record did not support the commission’s conclusion that traffic considerations warranted its denial of the society’s application. See Case Digest for details. (3) The application for the special exception was properly denied because the record contained substantial evidence to support the commission’s findings that the level of activity at the proposed temple, including possibly monthly festivals, some of which would be multiday affairs, would not be in harmony with the general character of the residential neighborhood. See Case Digest for details. (4) The application for the special exception was also properly denied on the ground that the temple would substantially impair neighboring property values. The commission concluded that the Society’s appraisal report was of little value because the comparable sales on which the report relied were in the vicinity of churches that had far fewer members than the participants expected at the temple and lower levels of continuous activity. The commission was not required to credit the appraisal firm’s conclusion that the proposed temple would have no effect on property values and the commission was entitled to credit the anecdotal reports that past activities on the society’s property had made neighboring properties less desirable. See Case Digest for details. (5) The application for the special exception was also properly denied on the ground that the proposed septic wastewater and water supply systems for the temple would create a health or safety hazard. Although the temple had received provisional approval of the systems from the state department of public health and it would have been within the zoning commission’s discretion to grant the society’s application for a special exception conditioned on the department of public health’s final approval of the society’s proposed septic and water supply systems, the commission was not required to do so. Because the society had not obtained approval of its proposed septic and water supply systems when it submitted its application to the commission, and because there was evidence from which the commission could have concluded that those systems would have created a health risk, the commission’s determination that the proposed use constituted a potential health or safety hazard was supported by substantial evidence   Case # 3108 (Conn.), affirming, Case # 2146 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

In Case # 2102, a Connecticut Superior Court held that the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities did not have jurisdiction to decide whether a Catholic Bishop discriminated in failing to appoint a priest to the position of pastor of a local Roman Catholic Church. The state Appellate Court, applying the “ministerial exception” to the administrative jurisdiction of the commission and the state’s employment discrimination statutes, now affirmed. Under the ministerial exception courts and governmental agencies are precluded by the First Amendment from exercising jurisdiction over a religious institution’s actions regarding the employment of its ministers. In Case # 2199, a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had held that Congress’s enactment of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), mandating that the government not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except where the government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest, in effect amended federal discrimination laws such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In Case # 2199, the district court, applying the ministerial exception, had dismissed a clergy person’s suit against a Conference of the United Methodist Church under the ADEA. The Second Circuit panel reversed, holding that RFRA effected an amendment to the ADEA, thereby displacing the “ministerial exception” as an available defense. The panel held that RFRA applied to the action by the clergy person (a private party) under the ADEA against the Conference/ church (another private party). Under the panel’s holding the church was not afforded an absolute, jurisdictional defense by the ministerial exception to the clergy person’s ADEA discrimination suit. Instead, the church was subject to suit, but allowed the affirmative defense afforded by RFRA that its actions were in furtherance of a compelling interest and was the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest. Although RFRA on its face seemed to apply to “government” actions that substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, the Second Circuit panel found RFRA’s language broad enough to encompass an action by a private party seeking relief under a federal statute (here the ADEA) against another private party who claims that the federal statute substantially burdens its exercise of religion. In addition, the panel found government action in the fact that the ADEA was enforceable by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In the present case, the plaintiff priest argued that Conn. General Statutes § 52-571b had the same effect on the state’s discrimination statutes as RFRA had on federal discrimination statues and that consequently his state discrimination claim should not be barred by the ministerial exception. The state Appellate Court rejected plaintiff’s argument. Although the reasoning of the Second Circuit panel in Case # 2199, has been widely criticized, the Connecticut Appellate Court simply stated that plaintiff’s argument for the direct applicability of Case # 2199 was flawed for two reasons. First, the decisions of the Second Circuit, while often persuasive, do not bind the decisions of Connecticut courts. Second, RFRA was unconstitutional as applied to state law, so that while it may have impacted a federal statute such as the ADEA it had no impact on the state’s discrimination laws. The Court of Appeals then engaged in a very extended exercise of statutory interpretation of Conn. General Statutes § 52-571b. It concluded that, whatever the merits of the Second Circuits reading of RFRA’s impact on federal discrimination statute’s, employment practices of religious institutions are a form of “religious belief” for purposes of § 52-571b(d)’s provision that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the state or any political subdivision of the state to burden any religious belief.” The Court of Appeal then concluded that said language prevented the application of the strict scrutiny test of subsections (a) and (b) of § 52-571b to the employment practices of religious institutions. Therefore, § 52-571b, simply as a matter of statutory interpretation, did not displace the ministerial exception   Case # 2673 (Conn. App. Ct.). See also see Case # 3136 (2d Cir.), affirming, Case # 2203 (D. Conn.), a parralel Title VII action involving the same plaintiff in which the Second Circuit panel afirmed dismissal of plaintiff's action on the basis of the ministerial exception and in which the Court took a somewhat critical view of the panel decision in Case # 2199 

^During a “healing” service held in a Roman Catholic Church under the supervision of a priest, plaintiff approached the altar, was prayed over, and, while being “rested in the spirit,” fell backward, hitting the floor with the back of her head and suffering severe injuries. Plaintiff alleged that defendants – the priest, the church and the diocese – were negligent in failing to have attendees such as herself seated or kneeling while being prayed over and in failing to provide a safe, soft surface for attendees to fall to. Claiming that defendants had a duty to protect plaintiff from injuring herself by having “catchers” stand behind healing ritual participants to catch them, plaintiff asserted that defendants failed to adequately train and supervise the catchers, to choose catchers who were physically and mentally fit to serve as “catchers,” and to choose an appropriate number of catchers. The Conn. Superior Court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding plaintiff’s claims barred by the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment. The court was of the opinion that because plaintiff’s claims arose from the alleged negligent performance of a religious healing ritual, the claims involved issues of religious doctrine and practice which it was constitutionally barred from considering; that the conduct complained of – that defendants were negligent in failing to establish adequate safety precautions for voluntary participants during a Catholic Charismatic healing ritual service taking place in a church – was “clearly ecclesiastical in nature.” The court declared that it would be impossible for it to apply neutral principles of secular law to evaluate plaintiff’s claim that defendants were negligent in failing to ensure adequate safety precautions for voluntary participants in the religious healing ritual, because plaintiff’s claims were “inextricably intertwined with the religious context in which the incident occurred” and that adjudication of the claims would involve the court in impermissible entanglement with ecclesiastical issues. To evaluate the plaintiff’s claims, the court said it would need to define the appropriate standard of care applicable during a religious healing service and determine whether the clergy acted in accordance with that standard of care. The fact that lay members of the church may have, at times, led diocese sponsored religious healing services was, in the court’s opinion, irrelevant, as plaintiff’s claims stemmed from a priest’s alleged negligence while presiding over a religious healing ritual at a Catholic church, not from the negligence of a layperson leading a prayer group. Accordingly, plaintiff’s allegations were rooted in clergy malpractice and adjudication of her claims was prohibited by the First Amendment. Additionally, the court accepted the church defendants’ assertion that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-571b, Connecticut’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, provided defendants a defense to plaintiff’s claims. Pursuant to § 52-571b(a) and (b), the courts must determine that there is a compelling governmental interest before the State or any of its political subdivisions can burden the exercise of religion. In Case # 2673, annotated in the immediate preceding paragraph the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities was held not to have jurisdiction to decide whether the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich discriminated on the basis of race in violation of the state’s employment discrimination law when it denied an African-American priest appointment to the position of parish administrator. In that case, plaintiff argued, inter alia, that § 52-571b applied. Of course, § 52-571b applies only when the state or a political subdivision burdens a person's exercise of religion and the action in Case # 2673 was one between private parties. However, it was argued that the state, through its employment antidiscrimination laws, was imposing a burden on the church employer and consequently § 52-571b applied, affording the church employer a defense, which could be defeated if it could be shown that the burden imposed by the antidiscrimination law was in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and was the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. However, the Conn. Appellate Court held that whatever the merits of this argument, § 52-571b was inapplicable because while the section barred the state from burdening a person's exercise of religion, subsection (d) of § 52-571b provided that “[n]othing in this section shall be construed to authorize the state . . . to burden any religious belief” and a religious institution’s employment of ministerial staff is to be considered for purposes of § 52-571b as a form of “religious belief.” Therefore, 52-571b did not apply and plaintiff’s suit was barred by the “ministerial exception,” as the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religious authority requires secular institutions to defer to the decisions of religious institutions in their employment relations with their clergy. However, in the present case, the court held that § 52-571b applied because plaintiff’s allegations involved issues of defendants’ religious exercise not belief. Proceeding on such premise, the church defendants were afforded a defense under § 52-571b and the burden was on plaintiff  to show a compelling State interest in having her negligence claims adjudicated, which she failed to do. Although this was a case between private parties, the state action for purposes of § 52-571b had to be the burden imposed on the religious exercise of the church defendants by subjecting them to plaintiff’s common law suit for negligence in state court   Case # 4298 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Plaintiff sought to construct an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in area zoned one acre residential. House of worship were allowed as a special permitted use in the zone. Under the zoning regulations, 58 off-street parking spaces were required for the facility proposed by plaintiff. However, to provide 58 parking spaces would necessitate that the proposed combined total square footage of buildings and paved areas of the project exceed by almost 100% the permitted total coverage of the lot area. Plaintiff sought to comply with the zoning regulation requirement that total coverage should not exceed 25% of the lot area by proposing only 18 off-street parking places at the synagogue (instead of 58). This plan required a variance from the 58 parking place requirement. A second variance was required, because the zoning regulations also provided that only 25% of the required parking spaces be in reserve and under plaintiff’s proposed plan 40 spaces, or 68% would be in reserve. Plaintiff argued that only 18 off-street parking spaces were needed because of the small size of Orthodox congregations and the fact that congregants walk to synagogue. According to plaintiff, to comply with the zoning regulations would be economically prohibitive because two residential lots would have to be purchased at a probable cost of $ 2 million. The Superior Court upheld the denial of the variances by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Denial of the variances was justified under the applicable legal standard for granting variances. The purported cost of finding a location for a synagogue where the congregation could walk to services did not create the necessary hardship. Furthermore, there was evidence that the congregation presently had a place of worship and was aware of other locations in the town that might be available. The record also showed that plaintiff’s claim that the synagogue only needed 18 parking spaces was not proven. Although a majority of congregation members did not attend regular Saturday services, 70-75% of those attending drove to the synagogue. The rabbi also stated he hoped the congregation would grow and the congregation’s website indicated 125 families as members, not 70 as asserted by plaintiff. There was also the likelihood of about ten larger gatherings each year such as High Holiday services and bar and bat mitzvahs. Based on the foregoing, there was a substantial basis for denying the variance on public safety grounds. The court concluded that the ZBA’s actions did not violate either the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) or the Connecticut Religious Freedom Act   Case # 2737 (Conn. Superior Ct.)

Plaintiff was injured as a result of her blouse catching on fire when she sought to light a votive candle in defendant Roman Catholic church. The candles were organized in rows on a stand located near the altar. Stairs for kneeling with loose pads on them were in front of the candle stand. All the candles in the lower rows had been lit and when plaintiff stepped onto the stairs to reach and light a candle in a back row with the lighting stick provided for that purpose, a loose pad slid off, causing plaintiff to lurch forward and fall on the candles, whereupon her blouse caught fire. Suing the church for her injuries, plaintiff alleged that (i) she was a business invitee and that defendant failed to keep the property reasonably safe; that (ii) defendant was negligent in the placement of the candles and arrangement of the stand in that (a) the candle stand was too high and far from the floor; (b) the stand contained rows of lighted candles in front of unlighted candles forcing people to reach over and across lighted candles in order to light other candles; (c) the candle stand was placed in by stairs with loose pads on them thereby creating a risk that the pads would move underneath people standing or kneeling on them and (d) defendant knew or should have known that the area was unsafe due to loose pads on the stairs and the lighted candles in the front rows of the stand. Plaintiff also alleged that (iii) defendant failed to discover or warn of the foregoing defect or dangerous condition, or to correct it, or provide proper ameliorative safeguards, such as a fire extinguisher that may have lessened the extent of plaintiff’s injuries. The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that litigation of plaintiff’s complaint would not require the court to review or interpret the religious doctrine of defendant church or otherwise impact its religious practices or decisions in violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, the comparable provisions of Conn. Const. Articles First and Seventh, and Connecticut’s freedom of religion statute, Gen. Stat. § 52-571b. Plaintiff’s claims implicating the safe placement of candles and kneeling pads and the layout of the votive candles and the lighting instructions did not involve inquiry into the religious practices established by the Roman Catholic Church and, under the facts, apparently had no religious significance. Rather, neutral legal principles of law governing premises liability would dictate the outcome of the case. According to the undisputed facts, the church was open for the lighting of votive candles; the lighting of the candles was invited, but not required, and was outside the context of an organized religious service as there was no religious ceremony such as Mass taking place at the time. Thus, the court need not find that the church, as a matter of law, had to change the manner in which a religious ceremony was being conducted in order to avoid tort liability. The fact that a person may recite a prayer during the process of lighting a votive candle did not alter this conclusion. Indeed, excerpts from the Code of Canon Law submitted by defendant suggested that plaintiff’s activity was a private action, not a liturgical one. Nor did the court accept defendant’s suggestion that because it was the role of the bishop to establish liturgical norms in parish churches, that his role, as defined by canon law, conferred a blanket immunity from liability for injuries to invitees occurring on church property due to a dangerous or defective condition. Nor, in holding the church liable to plaintiff would the court, as an agent of the state, be violating Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-571b, which prohibits the state from burdening the exercise of religion unless imposition of the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. In allowing plaintiff’s suit to proceed, the state would not be burdening the exercise of religion in any form, because resolution of the case would not involve or require a change in any religious ceremonial act. Section § 52-571b was concerned with, inter alia, outright prohibition of candle lighting in a church, without specifically addressing the state’s power to place reasonable limits on candle lighting under the circumstances of this case   Case # 4615 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

School required all pupils to complete a “health” education curriculum in accordance with state law. The health curriculum included instruction concerning health and safety, including, inter alia, human growth and development, disease prevention, community and consumer health, physical, mental and emotional health, including youth suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention, and safety, which could include the dangers of gang membership. The curriculum also included instruction about alcohol, nicotine and drugs, as required by state statute. In addition, the “health” curriculum included instruction about AIDS. Certain “family life” topics, made optional under state law, were integrated into the school’s health education curriculum. “Family life” topics included family planning, human sexuality, parenting, nutrition and the emotional, physical, psychological, hygienic, economic and social aspects of family life. No student was required to participate in any such “family life” program. As permitted by state law, defendants adopted an opt-out policy whereby a parent could exempt a child from attending lessons on “family life” topics and AIDS by notifying the school principal. Plaintiff father unsuccessfully attempted on First Amendment grounds to have his seventh grade son exempted from the mandatory “health education” course, believing that the matters taught were in conflict with his sincerely held religious, ethical and moral beliefs and his parental right to teach core values in the area of his son’s religious, ethical or moral beliefs. When the child failed to attend the health education class he received an “F.” Plaintiff father unsuccessfully sought removal of the “F” from the school transcript and an order requiring defendants to clarify the line between, and separate, the “health” curriculum from the “family life” curriculum. A parent’s right to direct the education of his children does not include a fundamental right to excuse his child from public school curriculum to which he objects and thus the mandatory health curriculum was not subject to strict scrutiny, but to rational reviw. The quality of plaintiff’s parental right claim was readily distinguishable from the quality of the claim of the Amish parents in Wisconsin v. Yoder. It was undisputed that the rational basis test was met. Plaintiff was not entitled strict scrutiny review because he asserted a “hybrid” claim  Case # 1425 (2d Cir. 2003), affirming, Case # 1240 (D. Conn.)

Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 52-576, 52-577, 52-577d, 52-584 and 52-595

Plaintiff, while a minor, was sexually abused by a Catholic priest; the last incident of abuse occurred in 1964 when plaintiff was 15; plaintiff claimed his suppressed knowledge of the abuse was recovered through the assistance of psychotherapy in 1991; he commenced suit in 1993, some 30 years after the last incident of abuse; plaintiff sued the Catholic diocese alleging, inter alia, that although the diocese did not have actual knowledge of the abuse he suffered, it received reports in December, 1964 and January 1966 that the same priest had abused other individuals; plaintiff asserted that, upon learning of such incidences, the diocese could have ascertained the identity of other potential minor victims and had a fiduciary duty to either warn them or inform them that they may have been subject to abuse, the memory of which they suppressed, so they could prevent future harm or seek counseling and treatment to alleviate the harm already suffered; plaintiff sued the diocese for, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duty and negligent infliction of emotional distress; court discusses application Conn. Gen. Stat.§ 52-595, providing for the tolling of the limitations period in, inter alia, cases arising out of sexual abuse, where the defendant fraudulently conceals from plaintiff the existence of the cause of such action; here plaintiff claimed that if the diocese had not breached its fiduciary duty toward him, he would have discovered that he suffered abuse back in 1966 and could have received treatment at an early period, avoiding years of psychological problems; Connecticut law requires a defendant owing a fiduciary duty to a plaintiff to prove under the tolling statute that it did not fraudulently conceal the plaintiff's cause of action; however, in order to invoke the tolling statute, it is the plaintiff, not the defendant who must demonstrate that he or she was ignorant of the existence of his or her cause of action; court discusses whether the diocese had, in fact a fiduciary duty to plaintiff and whether so finding would interfere with the diocese’s First Amendment right of free exercise; it was not error under the circumstances for the trial court to charge the jury that it could draw a negative inference from the diocese's failure to produce as a witness the priest who abused plaintiff    Case # 676 (2d Cir.)

Action against diocese arising from sexual abuse inflicted by parish priest more than 30 years before; court denies motion for summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds    Case # 111 (D. Conn.). But see Case # 676 (2d Cir.)

Plaintiffs, sexually abused by Catholic priest when they were both minors and adults, sued, inter alia, the religious society which admitted and ordained the abusing priest to the priesthood and which was responsible for his assignments; a 17 year statute of limitations running from the date plaintiff attains his or her majority applies to claims of sexual abuse suffered by minors; acts of alleged sexual abuse after a plaintiffs attains the age 18 are governed by a 3 year limitations period; extensive screening practices by the society entitled it to summary judgment on plaintiffs’ negligent screening and hiring claims; under the facts, the society was not entitled to summary judgment dismissing claim for negligent supervision; Connecticut law    Case # 620 (D. Conn.)

Wife, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, sued Watchtower Society and church elders alleging that the church and the individual defendants failed to render assistance to her when she was consistently and repeatedly beaten by her husband over a period of 20 years; actions for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and for breach of fiduciary duty time barred; limitation periods not tolled by the doctrine of fraudulent concealment; church teaching that members were not to resort to lawsuits did not postpone the running of the limitations periods until plaintiff’s expulsion from the church; however, the claim for breach of implied contract to protect plaintiff so long as she was obedient to the church was timely because the alleged breach could be considered to have occurred on the date of plaintiff’s expulsion from the church; but the claim for breach of implied contract was barred by the First Amendment    Case # 801 (Conn. Super. Ct.) (for collateral proceeding in the same case, see index entry in the next paragraph)

Wife, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, sued Watchtower Society and church elders alleging that the church and the individual defendants failed to render assistance to her when she was consistently and repeatedly abused by her husband for nearly 20 years, but counseled her to continue to endure in the marriage. Plaintiff also alleged that defendant elders voiced derogatory remarks about her until her “disfellowship” in April, 1996. Summary judgment granted to defendants on plaintiff’s actions for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, limitation period of three years barred consideration of allegations of events occurring prior to March, 1995. Church teaching that members were not to resort to lawsuits did not postpone the running of the limitations periods until plaintiff’s expulsion from the church. As to alleged events that occurred within the three year limitations period, derogatory remarks about and verbal mistreatment of plaintiff in the course of the disfellowship proceedings were not “extreme and outrageous.” Conduct on the part of the defendant that is merely insulting or displays bad manners or results in hurt feelings is insufficient to form the basis for an action based upon intentional infliction of emotional distress. Action for negligent infliction of emotional distress was in effect a claim for clergy malpractice barred by the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment    Case # 1509 (Conn. App. Ct.) (collateral proceedinging in same indexed in the precding paragraph)

Plaintiff, born on July 16, 1953, alleged that between 1962 and 1963 a Roman Catholic priest sexually assaulted and battered him. He asserted claims against the diocese based on negligence, recklessness, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The claims were dismissed as untimely. Conn. General Statute (C.G.S.) § 52-577d provided that “. . . no action to recover damages for personal injury to a minor, including emotional distress, caused by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual assault may be brought by such person later than thirty years from the date such person attains the age of majority.” Effective May 23, 2002, the age of majority was defined in General Statute § 1-1d as 18 years of age. The action was barred since it was commenced on September 18, 2002, more than thirty years after the plaintiff attained the age of eighteen years on July 16, 1971. However, it was only effective October 1, 1972, that an amendment to C.G.S. § 1-1d reduced the age of majority in Connecticut from 21 to 18 years of age. Accordingly, on July 16, 1971, when he turned 18, he was still a minor. Plaintiff attained his majority on October 1, 1972, when C.G.S. § 1-1d, as amended, reduced the age of majority to 18 years of age. Plaintiff therefore argued that the thirty-year statute of limitations should have first begun to run when he attained the age of majority on October 1, 1972. The Superior Court rejected plaintiff’s argument. For purposes of the statutes of limitation, plaintiff retroactively reached his majority on July 16, 1971, when he turned 18, and the 30 year limitations period began to run from said date. Hence his claims were untimely. For the court’s reasoning, see the court’s rather technical opinion   Case # 1934 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Practice Book § 9-18

In a suit against a local Roman Catholic Church and the Archdiocese arising from the alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff by a priest, a Roman Catholic parishioner moved to be made a party defendant claiming that he had both a legal and financial interest in the case because he was a contributor to both the local Church and the Archdiocese. He claimed that pursuant to both Canon Law and Connecticut Statutes, monies contributed to the Roman Catholic Church were held for the purposes of maintaining religious worship and for the support of the Church’s educational and charitable institutions and that neither a local church nor an archdiocese may be divested of its property because of the wrongs of abusive priests, that the payment of damages to the plaintiff out of church assets would be an illegal use of his money and would impede his free exercise of religion. The court denied the motion to intervene as of right or by permission   Case # 1974 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

Conn. Practice Book § 11-20A(h)

Plaintiff, alleging that he was sexually abused by a priest while a minor, was entitled to bring suit using a pseudonym. The fact that plaintiff was presently an adult and the abuse was alleged to have occurred more than 20 years before and was only now being made the subject of a lawsuit, did not detract materially from the notion that the alleged event was socially stigmatizing and that revealing plaintiff’s true identity now would promote or increase that stigmatization. The interest of plaintiff in keeping his identity private overrode the interest of the public in knowing his real name, and no harm would be suffered by the public by merely keeping his real name from being disclosed   Case # 3062 (Conn. Super. Ct.)

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