(§7-308 Barring Firefighter’s From Suing Other Negligent Firefighters Operating Motor Vehicles is Constitutional)

Keane v. Fischetti, 300 Conn. 396, 13 A.3d 1089, (Conn. 2011

The plaintiffs, both firefighters, brought a negligence complaint against a fellow employee who was driving the fire truck. The trial court struck their complaints on the ground that §7-308 barred injured firefighters who are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits from bringing negligence action against other firefighters for their injuries. The plaintiffs appealed claiming that the immunity provided to firefighters by §7-308 violates the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions.

In affirming the trial court’s decision, the Supreme Court first assumed that §7-308 discriminates against firefighters in favor of other municipal employees because it prevents firefighters who are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from bringing a negligence claim against other firefighters, whereas other municipal employees are not similarly prevented The Supreme Court adopted the rational purpose standard in holding that because state law requires municipalities to indemnify their employees from liability arising during the course of their employment, there was a legitimate governmental objective. Specifically the legislature could have concluded that the litigation arising from motor vehicle accidents between firefighters poses a greater risk to municipal liability than to other municipal employees, who are less likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents.