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PERSONAL INJURY: Appellate Court affirms holding that plaintiff had no right to jury trial on claims against state

A University of Connecticut student filed a claim against the state with the Office of the Claims Commissioner after he slipped and fell on ice in a university parking lot.  After the claim was denied, the student obtained authorization from the General Assembly and filed suit against the state, alleging negligence and reckless disregard.

The plaintiff claimed the action to the jury list, which the state then moved to strike, arguing that pursuant to the language in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-160, which provides that issues arising in actions against the state where sovereign immunity has been waived pursuant to § 4-159, the plaintiff had no right to a jury trial.  The trial court granted the state’s motion to strike and the trial court found for the state on the complaint.

On the plaintiff’s appeal challenging the denial of a jury trial, the Appellate Court affirmed, holding that the state constitution grants a litigant the right to jury trial only where the cause of action alleged is (1) the same or similar in nature to an action that could have been tried to a jury in 1818; and (2) brought against a defendant who could be sued at common law in 1818.  Neither of these situations applied to the state in the case at bar.

Perez v. University of Connecticut, 182 Conn.App 279 (2018)