9910041, O'Brian - Ruling on Motion to Stay

Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities,  ex rel. Andrew O’Brien and Barry E. Amos, et al.,  Complainants CHRO # 9910041, 9910198, 9910199, 9910200, 9910201, 9910202
Town of West Hartford, Cornerstone Aquatics Center, Respondent

June 5, 2000

Ruling on Motion to Stay

On May 23, 2000, the Town of West Hartford ("Respondent") filed a Motion to Stay Proceedings ("Motion") in the above-captioned consolidated cases. On June 1, 2000, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ("Commission") filed an Objection to the Respondent’s Motion. None of the Complainants filed any response or objection to the Motion.

The Respondent asserts in its Motion that these administrative proceedings should be stayed because a ruling from a judicial authority on its action for declaratory judgment may obviate the need for the proceedings. The Respondent is seeking guidance on the appropriate pricing of "family" memberships at a town facility, especially in light of the General Assembly’s recent passage of HB 5830 concerning the adoption of children. The Respondent argues that "there is a real and substantial dispute between the parties with respect to how and whether Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 46a-64 and 46a-81d apply to the facts and circumstances of the Complainants’ Complaints."

The Commission contends that it is a well-accepted practice of administrative law to set a matter down for specified proceedings through the contested case process of the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act. The Commission states that the contested case process began in this matter with a hearing conference held on November 15, 1999, at which dates for pre-hearing and public hearing were scheduled and in which the Respondent actively participated.

The Respondent has not offered a compelling reason to stay these proceedings. The Commission is charged by the General Assembly with addressing complaints of discrimination on the bases enumerated in the General Statutes in matters of employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. Since the complaints in the instant cases allege discrimination on the basis of marital status and sexual orientation (two protected bases), this matter seems to fit squarely within the Commission’s mandate. The Commission declined to address this matter through a declaratory ruling and rather set it down for specified proceedings, namely the public hearing at issue and its pre-hearing matters. There is no reason to deviate from this course.

This matter is ripe for adjudication. Documents have been produced or disclosed, settlement discussions have occurred and failed and all parties are on notice of the dates for public hearing which were scheduled more than six months ago. The public hearing is the most appropriate forum for all parties to offer testimony, documents and other evidence to prove or disprove their cases. Staying this matter pending the outcome of a possible ruling from a judicial authority will not resolve the "real and substantial dispute between the parties." Proceeding, as scheduled, will bring resolution of the allegations in the complaints.

The Respondent’s Motion is accordingly DENIED. The following dates remain as scheduled:

  • Filing and Exchange of Witness and Exhibit Lists June 23, 2000
  • Pre Hearing Conference July 17, 2000
  • Public Hearing July 24-28, 2000

It is so ORDERED and dated at Hartford, this _____ day of June, 2000.

Hon. Lara L. Manzione
Presiding Human Rights Referee

C: Mary L. Bonauto., Esq. and Jennifer Levi, Esq.
Maureen M. Murphy, Esq.
Robert J. Kor, Esq.
David Teed and Karla Turekian, Assistant Attorneys General
Kevin O’Connor, Corporation Counsel
James Sconzo, Esq. and Wendi L. Boyden, Esq.