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Indy Sengchanthong v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles • S.C. 17606 List of Cases and Case Summaries

Defendant! Appellant cases (Commissioner of MV) are in italics
Plaintiff/ Appellee cases (Indy Senchanthong) are underlined.
Cases that are cited by both parties are both underlined and italicized.

Blach Pontiac- Buick, Inc., v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 165 Conn. 559 (1973)
Bancroft v Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 48 Conn. App. 391 (1998)
Buckley v. Muzio, 200 Conn. 1 (1986)
C&H Enterprises, Inc. V. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 176 Conn. 11 (1978)
Clark v. Muzio, 40 Conn. Sup. 512 (1986) affd 14 Conn. App. 212
Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 225 Conn. 731 ( 1993)
DiBenedetto v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 168 Conn. 587 (1975)
Dolgner v. Alander, 237 Conn. 272 ( 1996)
Funderburk v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 68 Conn. App. 655 (2002)
Huck v. Inland Wetlands & Watercourse Agency. 203 Conn. 525 (1987)
Kirei v. Hadlev, 47 Conn. App. 451 (1998)
Lawrence v. Kozlowski, 171 Conn. 705 (1976)
MacDermid, Ina. v. Department of Environmental Protection, 257 Conn. 128 (2001)
Madow v. Muzio, 176 Conn. 374 (1978)
Murphy v. Commissioner, 254 Conn. 333 (2000)
O’ Rourke v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles,33 Conn. App. 501 (1994)
Rocque v. Freedom of Information Commission, 225 Conn. 651 (2001)
Schallenkamp v. DelPonte, 229 Conn. 31 (1994)
Schuh v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicle, 48. Conn. App. 5~7 (1 998)
Sengchangthong v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles,92 Conn. App. 365 (2005)
State v. Angueira, 51 Conn. App. 782 (1999)
State v. DeCoster 147 Conn. 502 (1960)
State v. Ducatt,22 Conn. App. 88 (1990)
State v. Englehart, 158 Conn. 117 (1960)
State V, Gill, 70 Ohio St. 3d. 150 i1994)
State v.Gordon,84 Conn. App. 519 (2004)
State v. Haight, 88 Conn. App. 235 (2005)
State v Haight,279 Conn. 546 (2006)
State v. Swift,125 Conn. 399 (1939)
State v. Wiggs, 60 Conn. App. 551 (2000)

CASE SUMMARIES

Blach Pontiac- Buick, Inc., v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 165 Conn. 559 (1973)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: D Commissioner of MV imposed sanctions upon P car dealer based upon his determination that the dealer made a false statement to a customer concerning the mileage of a vehicle he purchased from the dealer. On review, the Court of Common Pleas (CT) sustained the car dealer’s appeal. The Commissioner sought review. OVERVIEW: The Commissioner claimed that the lower court erred in determining that he abused his discretion in determining that the car dealer made a false statement to a customer about a car’s mileage. The court agreed and set aside the lower court’s judgment. The court held that the Commissioner’s conclusion had to be upheld on review if the evidence supported it. The court found that the customer was led to believe that he was purchasing an automobile that had gone only 16,505 miles in spite of information in the possession of the car dealer that the mileage was in fact 26,505 miles. Thus, the court held that a false statement was made to the buyer and that the Commissioner’s determination was fully supported by a permissible and reasonable view of the evidence before him. Accordingly, the court held that the lower court erred in sustaining the car dealer’s appeal. The court also held that the lower court erred in ruling that the administrative hearing was unfair because the Commissioner took notice of the car dealer’s prior warnings and violations. Also, the court found no error from the admission of hearsay at the hearing. OUTCOME: The court set aside the lower court’s judgment and remanded the case with direction to render judgment dismissing the appeal.

Bancroft v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 48 Conn. App. 391 (1998)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: The superior court (Connecticut) dismissed P arrestee’s appeal of a suspension of his license to operate a motor vehicle by D, the commissioner of motor vehicles, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227b (d) OVERVIEW: The arrestee was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The commissioner notified the arrestee of the suspension of his motor vehicle operator’s license. At an administrative hearing, the results of two chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) tests showing the arrestee’s BAC to have been 0.148 were admitted into evidence. The arrestee submitted a toxicologist’s letter stating that it was impossible to establish the arrestee’s BAC at the time of operation because the values obtained from the two BAC tests performed 34 minutes apart were identical. The hearing officer affirmed the one-year suspension of the arrestee’s license. The trial court held that the hearing officer could rely on the statutory presumption that the arrestee’s BAC had exceeded the legal level at the time of operation. On appeal, the arrestee argued that he had rebutted the statutory presumption and that the hearing officer disregarded the toxicologist’s letter and improperly relied on his own expert knowledge. The appellate court rejected these contentions. The record contained substantial evidence supporting the commissioner’s suspension of the arrestee’s license. OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment dismissing the arrestee’s appeal of the suspension of his license to operate a motor vehicle.

Buckley v. Muzio, 200 Conn. 1 (1986)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: D dmv commissioner sought review of a judgment from the Superior Court which sustained P driver’s appeal to the suspension of her license after she refused to submit to a chemical analysis of her blood, breath, or urine. OVERVIEW: The driver was arrested for driving drunk. After arresting the driver, the officer asked her to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test and informed her that her license would be suspended if she refused. The driver refused to take any of the tests, and a report was sent to the commissioner. Thereafter, the driver was granted a hearing, and the adjudicator of that hearing suspended her license for 90 days. After reviewing the reversal of the adjudicator’s decision, the court held that the trial court erred in sustaining the P’s appeal. The driver did not challenge the constitutionality of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227b(d), the controlling statute, in the trial court and did not do so on appeal. The limited issue before the trial court was whether the adjudicator properly applied § 14-227b(d). Having nothing more to determine, it was inappropriate for the trial court to indulge in a microscopic search for technical infirmities in the commissioner’s actions. Section 14-227b(d) meant what it said and accordingly, the commissioner, before suspending the driver’s license, was not required to find that she understood the consequences of a refusal to submit to chemical testing. OUTCOME: The court overturned the reversal of the suspension of the driver’s license and remanded the matter to the trial court with directions for the order of the commissioner to be reinstated.

C&H Enterprises, Inc. V. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 176 Conn. 11 (1978)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: P towing company appealed the decision of the Court of Common Pleas in Hartford County that dismissed the towing company’s appeal from a decision of D commissioner of motor vehicles that found the towing company had violated Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-66 by operating a towing business without filing a schedule of rates and charges. OVERVIEW: The towing company failed to provide the commissioner of motor vehicles with a schedule of its rates and charges. Because of the failure the commissioner found after a hearing that the towing company had violated the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann.§ 14-66, and it suspended the towing company’s license for three days pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann.§ 14- 64. The towing company appealed to the trial court. which dismissed his appeal, and the towing company sought certiorari review. The towing company claimed the statutes violated the equal protection clauses of the federal and state constitutions. The court held that the equal protection clause did not require identical treatment of all persons. In affirming the judgment, the court held that the statutes were a valid exercise of the police power in that they permitted only licensed repairers and dealers to operate wreckers on the state highways, and the statutes bore a rational relationship to the welfare of the motoring public. OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court that found the towing company was in violation of statute because it failed to file a schedule of rates and charges in connection with its business .

 Clark v. Muzio, 40 Conn. Sup. 512 (1986) aff’d 14 Conn. App. 212

PROCEDURAL POSTURE; P driver challenged a decision of D Connecticut Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles that suspended the driver’s operating license. OVERVIEW: The driver’s operating license was suspended by the Commissioner when the driver refused to submit to a chemical test after he was suspected of driving while intoxicated and causing an automobile accident in a parking lot. The driver argued that he did not refuse to submit to the test by requesting to contact his attorney, that the police officer did not have probable cause to arrest him, and that he was not advised by the police officer of the length of the suspension of his operator’s license if he refused to submit to the test. The court ruled that the police officer had probable cause to arrest the driver based upon information provided by witness and the police officer’s observations. The court ruled that at the time of the P’s arrest, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-227b did not afford the driver a statutory right to consult with counsel before deciding whether to submit to a chemical test. The court held that the police office’s statement to the driver that his refusal to submit to testing will result in the suspension of his license without reference to the applicable suspension period, was sufficient to inform him of the consequences of his refusal. OUTCOME: The court dismissed the driver’s appeal.

Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 225 Conn. 731 (1993)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE; In separate actions, a Ps, city and the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), challenged the decisions of D local zoning authorities, which denied the city and CRRA’s application to amend a regulation that prohibited solid waste disposal over an aquifer and refused to issue certificates of zoning compliance. The Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven reversed, and the authorities appealed. OVERVIEW: A regulation established an aquifer protection district, and the area specified by the regulation included the tract of land that the city leased to the CRRA. The local zoning authorities denied the city and CRRA’s request for an amendment to the regulation and refused to issue certificates of zoning compliance. The trial court reversed. On appeal, the court reversed the trial court’s order and held that the authorities could reasonably have found that sewage lagoons and solid waste disposal were different uses and that the solid waste disposal was a nonconforming use that had been illegally expanded. Thus, the trial court erred by improperly substituting its judgment for that of the authorities by determining that solid waste disposal was a protected nonconforming use of the entire tract. The regulation was a valid exercise of police power because it was rationally related to the protection of the groundwater and the community’s public health, safety, and welfare. When the regulation was adopted, the authorities were aware that the tract was a suspected source of contamination of the water supply. State solid waste and water protection statutes did not preempt the regulation. OUTCOME: The court reversed the trial court’s order, which reversed the local zoning authorities’ denial of the city and the CRRA’s request for an amendment to a zoning regulation and its refusal to issue certificates of zoning compliance. On remand, the court directed the trial court to render judgments dismissing the city and the CRRA’s appeals of the local zoning authorities’ decisions.

DiBenedetto v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 168 Conn. 587 (1975)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: P motorist challenged the judgment from the Court of Common Pleas in Hartford County which dismissed his appeal from an administrative license suspension imposed by D Commissioner of Motor Vehicles by authority of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-1 (8). 14- 4a, 14-111 (c) and based on the finding and conclusion of a motor vehicle department adjudicator that the motorist caused or contributed to the death of a pedestrian. OVERVIEW: The sole issue was whether the evidence presented at the hearing supports the conclusion that the motorist failed to keep a proper lookout and that the failure constituted negligence and carelessness which caused or contributed to the death of a pedestrian who was walking on the shoulder of the road. An examination of the motorist’s car disclosed that the right front fender struck the pedestrian. His body was knocked into the air and thrown a distance of 40 to 65 feet. The motorist did not apply his brakes before or immediately after he struck the pedestrian despite the fact that a passenger had warned the motorist of his presence. After striking the pedestrian, the motorist continued on for approximately 115 to 150 feet. The brakes and tires of the car were in excellent condition. The pedestrian was not involved in horseplay, and at no time did he leave the shoulder of the road. The court concluded that the Commissioner could reasonably conclude that the motorist did cause or contribute to the death of the pedestrian and that it did result from the motorist’s negligence and carelessness in that he failed to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians of whose presence he was aware. OUTCOME: No error was found.

Dolgner v. Alander, 237 Conn. 272 (1996)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: P day care operator challenged an order from the Superior Court which dismissed her appeal of a decision by D commissioner of the department of human resources revoking her family day care home registration based on a finding that she violated agency regulations by abusing and inadequately supervising children. OVERVIEW: Based on a parent’s complaint, the day care was investigated resulting in a report describing inappropriate conduct. The commissioner initiated revocation proceedings, and the hearing officer determined that the day care operator had abused and inadequately supervised day care children in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat.§ 17-31q-19(h)(2), (3). The day care operator’s appeal to the trial court was dismissed. On further appeal, the court reversed, holding that the revocation was not supported by substantial evidence. The only evidence to support her finding that the P had engaged in inappropriate conduct consisted of conclusory and general statements. The evidence presented at the hearings failed to disclose any specific factual predicates upon which the witnesses’ conclusions had been based. The evidence adduced at the administrative hearings, lacking any specificity as to the misconduct with which the day care operator had been charged, was insufficient to support the hearing officer’s determination. OUTCOME: The court reversed the trial court’s order dismissing the day care operator’s appeal and remanded the case to the trial court with direction to render judgment sustaining the appeal.

Funderburk v. Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 68 Conn. App. 655 (2002)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: P driver sought review of a decision of D commissioner of motor vehicles, which suspended the driver’s operator’s license. The Superior Court, judicial district of New Britain dismissed the appeal. The driver appealed. OVERVIEW: The driver was stopped, and after he failed three field tests, he was arrested and charged with operation of motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor. The driver submitted to a breath test and failed. Following a hearing, the commissioner suspended the .driver’s operator’s license. On appeal, the driver claimed that (1) there was insufficient evidence that he failed a chemical alcohol test and (2) the hearing officer improperly allowed into evidence an arrest form and attachments. The appellate court held that an agency was not required to use in any particular fashion any of the materials presented to it so long as the conduct of the hearing was fundamentally fair. Judicial review of an action of the commissioner was very restricted. The driver needed to prove that the commissioner’s decision was clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record. Administrative tribunals were not strictly bound by the rules of evidence so long as the evidence was reliable and probative. The appellate court found that the commissioner’s decision was not clearly erroneous and was supported by substantial evidence. OUTCOME: The judgment was affirmed.

Huck v. Inland Wetlands & Watercourse Agencv, 203 Conn. 525 (1987)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: D wetland agency appealed from a decision of the Superior Court which sustained P property owner’s appeal of D’s denial of P’s application to construct a house and septic system on her property. OVERVIEW: P property owner appealed D wetland agency’s decision, which denied her application to residentially construct upon her wetland property. The trial court reversed and found that P had been deprived by D of the reasonable and proper use of her property and that there had been an unconstitutional taking without just compensation. D appealed, and the court reversed, holding the failure of P’s application to garner enough votes for its approval amounted to a rejection of the application and constituted “action” by D within the 65 day period required. Therefore, D did not fail to take “action” within 65 days of the public hearing. The court concluded that the record contained substantial evidence to support D’s reason for denying the application, and there was substantial evidence to support the denial. D did not “whimsically ignore substantial expert testimony,” nor was its action the result of the prejudicial desire of D to have P’s land remain in a natural state. D did not act arbitrarily on its own experience nor in disregard of contrary expert evidence. OUTCOME: The court reversed and remanded the trial court decision, which had reversed D agency’s decision denying P property owner’s application to residentially construct upon her property. The court found error in the trial court’s conclusion that D did not give “reasons” for its decision, and it concluded that there was substantial evidence to support D’s denial.

Kirei v. Hadley, 47 Conn. App. 451 (1998)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: P driver challenged the decision of the Superior Court which dismissed the driver’s appeal from the suspension by D commissioner of motor vehicles, suspending the driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. OVERVIEW: The driver’s motor vehicle operator’s license was suspended after the driver refused to submit to a chemical alcohol test following his arrest for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The driver contended that the trial court improperly concluded that there was substantial evidence in the record to support the findings that the driver was operating the motor vehicle in question and that there was probable cause to arrest the driver. The court reasoned that review of the commissioner’s action was highly restricted. The court held that neither it nor the trial court could retry the case or substitute its judgment for that of the commissioner. The court further held that in order to sustain an administrative decision, all that was required was that the determination have been reasonably supported by the evidence in the record. The court affirmed the judgment, holding that the record contained substantial evidence supporting the finding that the driver had operated the motor vehicle in question and that there was probable cause to arrest the driver. OUTCOME: The court affirmed the dismissal of the driver’s action challenging the suspension of his driver’s license by the commissioner.

Lawrence v. Kozlowski, 171 Conn. 705 (1976)

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: P driver appealed an order of the Court of Common Pleas in New Haven County which dismissed the driver’s appeal of the order of D Commissioner of Motor Vehicles which suspended the driver’s motor vehicle operator’s license after a hearing pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat.§ 14-111. OVERVIEW: The Commissioner found that the driver had failed to maintain a proper lookout and caused the death of a pedestrian. The trial court dismissed the driver’s appeal of the Commissioner’s order suspending his license. The court affirmed, holding that although the driver’s nolo contendere plea to a charge of negligent homicide and arrest report should not have been admitted, the driver failed to show substantial prejudice given that the Commissioner’s conclusion was supported by other substantial evidence, much of it undisputed and provided by the driver himself. The court also held that the driver was not denied his due process right to cross examine witnesses by the Commissioner’s failure to subpoena the coroner, whose report concluding that the driver was at fault was admitted. The coroner’s report was properly admitted under the “public records” exception to the hearsay rule, and the fact that the Commissioner reached the same conclusion as the coroner did not indicate an improper delegation of the Commissioner’s authority. Cross-examination was not required because the coroner could have provided no direct testimony of the facts of the accident. OUTCOME. The court affirmed the dismissal of the driver’ a appeal of the suspension of his driver’s license by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles based on his finding that the driver had caused the death of a pedestrian.

STEVEN TOMEO, ESQ.

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