LaskeLaw llc has regularly litigated complex issues involving municipalities, their employees, boards, departments and elected officials. From 1993 to 2015, Art Laske represented the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, as an Assistant City Attorney and later as Deputy City Attorney. Art was lead counsel on hundreds of lawsuits alleging wrongful death, violation of civil rights, wrongful arrest, medical malpractice, unlawful employment practices, sexual misconduct and failure to supervise, negligence in the operation of a motor vehicleas well as statutory 13a-149 highway/sidewalk defect cases.
The defense of a lawsuit against a municipality, its employees or elected officials, requires a thorough knowledge of the substantive and procedural law that applies to a municipal entity. Attorney Laske has defended towns and cities in both state and federal court. He has handled some of the most difficult and challenging legal issues confronting municipalities, and has effectively tried, or settled where appropriate, numerous high profile matters.
Because the law applicable to a municipality and its employees or elected officials is constantly evolving, it is vital that counsel for a town or a city have a full and complete understanding of the legal defenses available in this area of the law. As an Assistant City Attorney, and later as Deputy City Attorney for the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Art Laske has argued before the Connecticut Supreme Court and Appellate Court, as well as before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, on over a dozen occasions. He has tried numerous cases to conclusion in both state and federal court. He regularly handles the defense of injunctions seeking to cease, or modify, the operations of government.
Examples of the types of matters defended by Attorney Laske include:
- Represented the interests of the City of Bridgeport in the case of the Estate of Leroy “BJ” Brown v. Sweeney, in the United Stated District Court, District of Connecticut. This case arises from the slaying of an eight year old boy and his mother by a local drug dealer, allegedly to prevent him from testifying in a criminal matter. This case was the subject of an A&E television production of American Justice, during which Attorney Laske was interviewed concerning the claims made against the boy’s family in their civil suit against the City of Bridgeport;
- Lead counsel in the matter of Torres v. City of Bridgeport, arising from the disappearance of a student from school grounds prior to the beginning of the school day. See related article entitled “Child’s Disappearance Creates a Catch 22” from the Connecticut Law Tribune dated September 16, 2002
- Lead counsel in cases alleging negligence by municipal actors arising from a drowning in a public reservoir, a fall on school grounds, and a traffic fatality of a school child on her way to school.
- Prevented a community group from seizing control of a federal empowerment zone grant designated by the federal government for the City of Bridgeport. After preventing the issuance of an injunction in the trial court, Attorney Laske successfully defended the denial of the injunction in the Connecticut Supreme Court case of Community Collaborative of Bridgeport, Inc. v. Ganim, 241 Conn. 546 (1997);
- Successfully defended against an injunction seeking to prevent the closing of a local fire house on the basis that the closing of a particular house would lead to an unacceptable increase in response times to fires;
- Defeated an injunction sough to prevent the privatization of a water pollution control agency based on a lack of standing;
- Successfully prosecuted a declaratory judgment action against an insurance company for the City of Bridgeport Board of Education when the carrier refused to indemnify or defend against a claim arising from an assault against a student who disembarked from one of the Board’s buses. The issue raised by Attorney Laske was one of first impression in Connecticut, and the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the Board’s position in the case of Board of Education of the City of Bridgeport v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, 261 Conn. 37 (2002). An article in the Connecticut Law Tribune describing this case is enclosed, entitled “Part Transport, Part Safety Device”;
Civil Rights Violations
- Defended First Selectman in civil matter brought by former police chief alleging retaliatory removal from office, violation of civil rights, and wrongful discharge;
- Defended police officer against claim of wrongful arrest and federal civil rights violations when suspect was arrested pursuant to fugitive warrant and extradited to Connecticut, but was eventually cleared of the underlying charges;
- Obtained directed verdict after trial of matter involving wrongful arrest, civil conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution. This matter was appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court, Crone v. Connelly, 74 Conn. App. 788 (2003), and was recently argued in the Connecticut Supreme Court. An article related to this matter is enclosed, entitled “Dismissal of Teacher’s Wrongful Suit Upheld”;
- Obtained summary judgment on an eight count complaint in United States District Court alleging violations of the federal rights of former city employees whose employment was transferred to a private company pursuant to the privatization of a water pollution control agency;
- Represented members of a Regional SWAT team involved in an operation where service of an arrest warrant led to a use of force in which the resident of the home was fatally injured;
- Successfully defended police officers at trial accused of improper use of force while making arrest of an armed individual, and in which during the course of the arrest a TASER was utilized and a concealed handgun discharged;
- Successfully defended at trial a police detective accused of causing the death of a suspect during a foot pursuit in which shots were exchanged between the suspect and the police.
- Obtained summary judgment against a claimant who was injured by the force of water released from an illegally opened fire hydrant. Although the City of Bridgeport and its Fire Department prevailed at the trial court level, the Connecticut Appellate Court and Supreme Court, interpreting C.G.S. Sec. 52-557n, held for the first time that a direct action in negligence can be maintained against a municipality without directly naming an employee of the municipality. These decisions dramatically changed the landscape of municipal law, and both appellate arguments were made by Attorney Laske. Spears v. Garcia, 263 Conn. 22 (2003) and Spears v. Garcia, 66 Conn. App. 669 (2001);
- Defended numerous matters through trial involving allegations that teachers failed to properly supervise students within their control, including cases arising from gym classes, class trips, premises liability issues, and the use of discipline by teachers;
- Numerous cases have been defended involving issues arising from C.G.S. Sec. 13a-149, the “sole proximate cause” defense, as well as those involving coverage issues pertaining to C.G.S. Sec. 7-465 and C.G.S. Sec. 10-235;
- Successfully brought suit against a municipality and prevailed at trial in a case where a pedestrian leaving a municipal office fell and was seriously injured on a defective sidewalk that the municipality failed to maintain despite having specific notice of the defective condition, resulting in a $120,000 verdict for the injured person.
- Defended a Board of Education against allegations that one of its male teachers engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a minor female student;
- Defended against claims that Board of Education employees failed to supervise a special education student sufficiently and therefore allowed him to sexually assault another student;
- Defended the Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education against allegations that they improperly screened applicants for vacant teaching positions when a long-term temporary teacher was accused of engaging in the sexual assault of a minor student while on school grounds;