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Motor Vehicle Law: Conscious disregard of the safety of others that was reckless and exhibited an extreme departure from ordinary care is necessary to plead common law recklessness

The defendant moved to strike count three of the plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds that the allegations are legally insufficient to sustain a cause of action for common law recklessness as to the operation of a motor vehicle. The court explains that in order for an individual to be found to have acted recklessly, “the actor must recognize that his conduct involves a risk substantially greater … than that which is necessary to make his conduct negligent.

Recklessness requires a conscious choice to act with knowledge either of a serious danger to others inherent in that act or, at least, of facts which would disclose such a danger to any reasonable person.” In the present case, the court finds that the plaintiff has not alleged facts that would support an independent claim for common law recklessness. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant “knowingly attempted to pass the plaintiff’s motor vehicle on the right, when he knew it was illegal to do so and unsafe given the traffic conditions then and there existing, however he ignored those known risks and decided to pass the plaintiff’s motor vehicle and thereby put the safety of the plaintiff and others on the road in jeopardy.”

The court starts by explaining that the defendant allegedly knowing that what he was doing was illegal and unsafe does not satisfy “the required allegation that the defendant recognize that his conduct involved a risk substantially greater than the risk – the breach of duty – which makes his conduct negligent.” Nowhere does the plaintiff allege that the conduct of the defendant as described indicates a conscious disregard of the rights and/or safety of the plaintiff and was reckless, exhibiting highly unreasonable conduct involving an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation where a high degree of danger was apparent. Nor did the plaintiff assert that the defendant acted with reckless disregard of the just rights or safety of others.

For these reasons, the court finds that count three is legally insufficient to support a cognizable claim for common law recklessness and the defendant’s motion to strike is granted. Drahota v. Cordero, CV-22-6031801-S, 2023 WL 3840243 (Conn. Super. Ct. June 1, 2023)