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MOTOR VEHICLE LAW: Trial court finds for defendant municipality, as negligent driver was not employee of the municipality and municipality did not own vehicle

The defendant Town of East Windsor moved for summary judgment in a motor vehicle negligence action. The plaintiff alleged that she was struck by a town-owned vehicle, operated by an agent, servant and/or employee of the town, Richard Austin. The plaintiff also claimed the Town of East Windsor was liable pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §52-183 or was obligated to indemnify Austin pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §§7-308 and 7-465. The Town of East Windsor alleged that Richard Austin was named in a separate action as the agent or servant of the Warehouse Point Fire District, and that he was not an employee of the town. The Town of East Windsor claimed it did not own the vehicle that was involved in the accident. As a result, the town asserted that it had no duty to indemnify Austin because he was not an employee of the town, but rather he was employed by the fire company. An affidavit from the First Selectman of East Windsor confirmed that the Warehouse Point Fire district was a separate and distinct legal entity from the town. The plaintiff could not offer any rebuttal to dispute the facts asserted in the affidavit. The court granted the Town of East Windsor’s motion for summary judgment, holding that absent ownership of the vehicle in question, Conn. Gen. Stat. §52-183 was not applicable. The court reasoned that neither of the other statutory claims applied unless Richard Austin was acting as an employee of the town.  Christine Taylor v. Richard Austin, Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Docket No. CV-19-6104064 (May 27, 2020)