Elliott v. Waterbury

In Elliott v. Waterbury, 245 Conn. 385, 715 A.2d 27 (1998), the plaintiff administratrix sought to recover from, inter alia, the city of Waterbury for the death of her decedent who had been shot and killed by a hunter while jogging on reservoir land that was owned by the city but located in another town. Id. at 389. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of the city on the ground of governmental immunity and the plaintiff appealed. Id. at 409. The plaintiff argued that the alleged conduct of Waterbury did not constitute governmental acts entitled to immunity because it concerned a proprietary, as opposed to a public activity, namely, the operation of a water utility. Id. at 412-13. The Court explained that Waterbury's allegedly tortious conduct, namely, its decision to open the watershed land to hunting and the manner in which it regulated that activity, was unconnected to its operation of a water utility and that it was apparent that that activity consisted of a set of policy decisions concerning the use of city land for recreational purposes, which the plaintiff conceded required the exercise of judgment and discretion. Id. at 413-14. The Court noted that there was no indication that Waterbury had received any corporate gain or benefit from allowing hunting on its property. Id. at 414. Accordingly, it concluded that, as a matter of law, the conduct of which the plaintiff complained constituted governmental, and not proprietary, acts, which were discretionary in nature and protected by governmental immunity. Id.