Posts tagged with "benefit"

Court Denies DUI Convict’s Request for Declaratory Judgment; License Suspensions Complied with Applicable Statutes

In a recent criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut found in favor of the defendant Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after the plaintiff unsuccessfully asserted his claims of equal protection and due process violations following his license suspensions.

In this case, the plaintiff was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) of alcohol in violation of Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) § 14-227a. Police notified the DMV of the arrest, who held an administrative license suspension hearing. The hearing officer found that the plaintiff refused to submit to a chemical alcohol test, among three other considerations, and pursuant to CGS § 14-227b(i), ordered that the plaintiff’s driver’s license be suspended for six months.

The plaintiff fully served this administrative suspension before pleading guilty to OMVUI. In connection with this criminal conviction, the DMV ordered that the plaintiff’s driver’s license be suspended for twelve months in accordance with CGS § 14-227a(g). Plaintiff’s counsel requested a “credit” of six months in light of the administrative suspension, but the DMV denied this request. DMV practice allows administrative and criminal suspensions to run concurrently for whatever period of overlap exists, as long as they arose from the same incident. However, it is not DMV policy to issue credits against new suspensions when prior ones have already been fully served.

The plaintiff sought declaratory judgment, arguing that the DMV’s actions were unconstitutional. He first alleged that the DMV policy violated equal protection because it “confers a benefit on those able to serve some or all of their suspensions concurrently, while denying that benefit to those who must serve them consecutively.” The plaintiff further contended that his procedural due process rights were violated because the DMV did not advise him of the practice, thus depriving him of being able to make an informed decision regarding when to plead guilty.

Equal protection directs that similarly situated people be treated alike. This clause is implicated when a statute “either on its face or in practice, treats persons standing in the same relation to it differently.” The threshold inquiry for a reviewing court is whether a petitioner is “similarly situated for purposes of the challenged government action.” However, the equal protection clause does not prohibit a government entity from treating those who are not similar in a dissimilar manner. In this case the Superior Court found that the plaintiff was similarly situated to drivers who have completed one suspension when the other is imposed, not drivers who were serving one suspension when subject to a second. Because the plaintiff failed to meet his burden proving dissimilar treatment, his equal protection claim failed.

To establish a due process violation, a plaintiff must prove “1) that he has been deprived of a property interest cognizable under the due process clause; and 2) that deprivation occurred without due process of law.” In this case, the Court readily agreed that deprivation of a driver’s license clearly satisfies the first prong, but the plaintiff’s claim failed with respect to the second element. The suspensions were imposed in accordance to guidelines set forth in CGS §§ 14-227a and 14-227b, and the plaintiff did not provide any support for “for the proposition that the [DMV] was obligated to give him notice of the [DMV’s] practice.” Therefore, the plaintiff’s due process claim also failed, and his request for declaratory judgment was denied.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Role of Consideration in Connecticut Non-Compete Agreements

Role of Consideration in Connecticut Non-Compete Agreements
J. M. Layton & Co. v. Millar, 2004 Conn. Super LEXIS 2226

Mr. Reid Millar worked at J. M. Layton & Co., a Connecticut commercial insurance brokerage firm, for close to twenty years until he voluntarily terminated his employment on December 3, 2003. During his career at Layton, Mr. Millar developed and maintained client relationships and the company even sent him to seminars in Florida on how to engender customer loyalty. In January 1994, the company’s ownership transferred to an ‘Employee Stock Option Plan” scheme wherein Mr. Millar and the other employees became the new owners of the brokerage firm. Mr. Millar signed an employment agreement later that year in August in response to a memo from the company’s president stating, “The value of the stock in the company would increase when all employees/shareholders signed employment agreements”. The employment agreement contained non-compete and non-solicitation clauses prohibiting Mr. Millar from performing any service provided by Layton for a period of two years to any entity or person that was a client of Layton in the two years prior to termination.
Four years later, in 1998, the employee-owners sold the firm to SIG Acquisition Co. for $5.59 million. Mr. Millar terminated his employment on December 3, 2003 and began to work for a competitor, Shoff Darby, soon after this decision. Several clients made the switch with Mr. Millar and he provided them with services they previously received from Layton. Layton sued Mr. Millar to enforce the terms of the restrictive covenant to which Mr. Millar presented a defense that there was not adequate consideration for the agreement to be enforceable.
The court found in favor of Mr. Millar and held that the agreement between Layton and himself lacked the adequate consideration required to make the covenant legally binding on the signatory parties. The court rejected Layton’s contentions that continued employment and increased value of stock in the firm were adequate forms of consideration for the agreement. Consideration is a crucial contract law principle wherein each party must receive a benefit and/or a detriment from the agreement to make it legally valid and enforceable. In the absence of consideration, an executory promise is generally unenforceable. Courts have determined that continued employment alone is not adequate consideration for a restrictive covenant. Past decisions have permitted it to qualify as adequate consideration when it accompanied by another defined benefit such as a change in compensation.
Likewise, the court held that the “increase in stock value” argument was without merit and did not constitute adequate consideration. There was a timeline disconnect with the issuance of the stock, the employment agreement, and any increase in value that prevented adequate consideration in this form. Mr. Millar received the stock seven months prior to signing the employment agreement and the increase in its value (if any) occurred four years after the agreement’s execution. These components lacked a coherent connection that would unite them in a manner as to represent the adequate consideration needed to make the agreement enforceable. The court concluded that the possible increase in stock value was far too “imprecise, indefinite, and self-serving, to be adequate consideration” and it denied Layton’s request for enforcement of the non-compete agreement.

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