Category Archives: law

reSET, Malloy ‘Walk The Walk’ To State Capitol

by Categorized: Commerce, law, Politics Date:

 It was a fruitful year for the Social Enterprise Trust in 2013, as the group based in Hartford known as reSET opened its community incubator space at 99 Pratt Street, graduated two accelerator classes for startup entrepreneurs and worked with more than 60 groups to advance the cause of business with an explicit social benefit.

But reSET’s main legislative hope, a bill that would allow for “Type-B” benefit corporations,failed for the second straight year as time ran out for a vote in the state Senate last spring. 

Now the good news for reSET is that the bill, which would make it easy for companies to incorporate for a purpose other than only profit for owners, is on the fast track this year and seems like a lock to pass. 

Onyeka Obiocha, left, and Vishal Patel of A Happy Life, a social enterprise coffee company in Hartford. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Onyeka Obiocha, left, and Vishal Patel of A Happy Life, a social enterprise coffee company in Hartford.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy showed up at reSET’s Pratt Street office Tuesday to deliver his support, calling the bill a jobs measure — as social enterprise start-ups gain inspiration under the Type-B flag.  If that’s not enough, the legislature’s top Democrats issued their jobs agenda for 2014 on Tuesday and the Type-B bill is high on the list of priorities.

Under the proposal, companies that incorporate at Type-B would be subject to traditional corporate laws but would also be allowed to provide a stated public benefit as part of their charter. And they would be held accountable for that, in required annual “benefit reports.”

Malloy, at reSET, wondered why a company “making 90 bags of coffee a day” must have a team of lawyers to draw up its incorporation papers if it wanted to form as a social enterprise. He was referring to A Happy Life, whose founder, Vishal Patel, and chief operating officer Onyeka Obiocha, had just explained their plan to the governor.

The partners, who met at the reSET offices last summer, operate at the incubator offices there. They buy raw coffee that has been bought under Fair Trade standards, and roast and package it in Wallingford, with the goal of not only supporting Fair Trade, but, Patel explained, “using profits to develop solutions or holistic approaches to eradicating poverty in coffee-growing communities in underserved countries.

The market is, of course, heavy with boutique coffee roasting firms hoping to improve conditions where subsistence farmers grow the beans, charging somewhat higher prices — $10.99 for a 12-ounce bag in the case fo A Happy Life.  “We’re not justa coffee company. We’re a lifestyle company,” Patel said, with daily online anecdotes, pictures and videos about being happy in life.

“We think we can take Fair Trade to the next level,” said Patel, who works full-time as a research assistant at the Hospital for Special Care, but expects to move full-time to the start-up firm.

After Malloy’s announcement, folks from reSET walked a half-mile in a steady rain to the state Legislative Office Building, where the commerce committee held an informational forum on the bill.

And so, two years ago reSET was on the outside looking in, opposed by the state bar association on technical language in the bill. Last year the group was in the mix with its bill, out of luck when the clock ran out. This year reSET arrives at the Capitol as full-fledged insiders.


Donations Surface in Yale Honorary Degree Case, With Famous Connection

by Categorized: Education, law Date:

A foundation controlled by Stephan Schmidheiny, the billionaire global environmentalist whose 1996 honorary degree from Yale University is under protest, donated money to Yale at least three times in the years around that event, documents show.

Those donations — in unknown amounts — are raising eyebrows among victims, family members and supporters of former asbestos workers in Casale Monferrato, Italy.  The groups say Yale should not have feted Schmidheiny 18 years ago and should revoke the degree, now that an Italian appeals court has upheld a criminal conviction of the former industrialist and sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

At least two of the donations were to the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, then headed by Daniel C. Esty — a Yale professor now serving as Connecticut’s Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner.

Schmidheiny from 1976 to 1986 controlled Swiss Eternit, a producer of asbestos-girded construction products with several plants in Italy.  He exited the 80-year-old family business and dedicated his efforts and much of his fortune to advancing ecologically sustainable business methods, especially land use in Latin America — for which Yale conferred the honorary degree.

Yale said in October, after the victims’ group presented a petition calling for Yale to revoke the degree, that “there are no records of any substantial gifts to Yale” by Schmidheiny or by charities that Schmidheiny controls.  Yale did, however, describe collaborations between Schmidheiny and the Yale
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where Esty’s center was jointly located.

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Lawsuit Over Alternative Power Says Esty Overstepped Authority

by Categorized: Energy, law, Utilities Date:

Connecticut’s headaches over two long-term deals for renewable power, including a large contract with a Maine Wind Farm, now include a lawsuit by a New York firm that owns competing solar generation facilities.

Allco Renewable Energy Ltd., based on Wall Street in New York City, submitted bids from five solar facilities when the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection sought bids in July for 15-year contracts to sell power to Connecticut Light & Power.  In September, the department awarded contracts to a Maine wind project and a solar project located in Connecticut — but not to Allco.

Allco filed a lawsuit against Dan Esty, the DEEP commissioner, in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, claiming the contracts amount to the state setting wholesale power rates. That’s against the Federal Power Act that gives U.S. regulators the exclusive right to oversee wholesale markets, Allco said in the lawsuit, which was filed Nov. 27 and seeks to have the deals revoked, along with other relief.

Allco’s lawsuit also said the pricing of the contracts was not done properly under federal law, and that its offer was for a lower amount than one of the winning bids.

The most controversial of the contracts is for 250 megawatts, with the so-called Number Nine Wind Project in Maine, which has not yet been built. Critics say that agreement raises concerns about transmitting the power, and could lead the state to ignore renewable energy sources that are based locally.

Allco “will suffer irreparable harm” because its solar facilities “are competing for a limited supply of long-term renewable energy contracts in Connecticut, and the defendant’s interference with the wholesale energy market in violation of the FPA will cause the Plaintiff to suffer substantial economic losses,” the lawsuit said.

The Department said it conducted the bidding and awarded the contracts properly after working closely with the state Attorney General’s office, the Office of Consumer Counsel and outside lawyers.

“We are confident we followed all legal requirements during this process and are eager to advance Governor Malloy’s agenda of bringing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy to the residents and businesses of Connecticut,” said department spokesman Dwayne Gardner in a written statement.


In Rare Gathering, Lawyers Celebrate Their Man At UConn

by Categorized: Education, law Date:

They compete by day and they don’t usually gather at night as a group, but late Wednesday some of the most prominent partners of greater Hartford’s 17 largest law firms united for a cause — joined by the governor, attorney general, state treasurer and the UConn president.

Their purpose: Not to raise money for a charity, though there was a pitch. They came to honor one of their own, Timothy Fisher, who just left his job as a partner at McCarter & English to become dean of the UConn law school — and to make the point that law schools in general, and UConn especially, must be tied ever closer to the region’s law firms as the profession fights through a siege.

UConn law school Dean Timothy Fisher jokes with Dan Papermaster of Bingham McCutchen, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Marie Herbst, the UConn president. Rick Hartford/The Hartford Courant

UConn law school Dean Timothy Fisher jokes with Dan Papermaster of Bingham McCutchen, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Susan Herbst, the UConn president.
Rick Hartford/The Hartford Courant

Most law school deans come from the ranks of legal scholars and educators, so it was something of a surprise that UConn president Susan Herbst and the search committee plucked a partner in corporate practice.

“This is nothing short of remarkable that we’re all here together,” said Dan Papermaster, managing partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP, which held the reception, co-hosted by all 17 firms, at its office at One State Street. “We’re here to speak with one voice to let the UConn community know that you made a great choice in selecting our colleague, Tim Fisher. He’s going to lead this law school with distinction as we navigate a new normal in legal education.”

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Former Intern Charged With Browsing State Tax Records

by Categorized: law, Public finance Date:

You might think people who work in the state tax department have free access to ogle your returns anytime they want, but that’s a crime — and on Monday, the Department of Revenue Services arrested a former intern and charged him with unauthorized inspection of tax return information.

Brian Frascarelli of Torrington, who worked at the department this summer, was charged with a computer crime in the third degree, the department said in a written release. Other information about Frascarelli was not available.

The department found no evidence that any data was stolen but said all affected taxpayers will be offered free data security protections. The department, which monitors access to information on its systems, didn’t say how many accounts might have been viewed improperly.

“As a criminal matter and a state personnel matter, I have been clear from day one that there is zero tolerance for browsing or other unauthorized accessing of taxpayer record information,” Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan said in the release. “We constantly remind our employees of the consequences.  I am always shocked and disappointed when it happens to any taxpayer.”

Gun Group Brings Public Warning Ad Campaign To Hartford

by Categorized: Firearms, law, Media Date:

Here’s a public service effort that may serve a worthy political aim as well as reducing crime: The National Shooting Sports Foundation has expanded its “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” anti-straw-purchase campaign to Hartford and other Southern New England cities.

The campaign includes 13 billboards in Hartford, seven of them along I-91 or I-84, warning people that making a straw purchase — buying a gun for a person who isn’t allowed to buy one for himself — is a serious federal crime.

Billboard along Farmington Avenue in Hartford.  Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Billboard along Farmington Avenue in Hartford.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

The campaign, with the tagline “Buy a gun for someone who can’t…buy yourself 10 years in jail,” is a joint effort of the Newtown-based NSSF, which represents gun retailers and manufacturers, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  In addition to Hartford, the latest cities with a spate of billboards are Providence, Worcester, Springfield and Boston.

The campaign comes to Hartford just months after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Sen. Chris Murphy accused the gun industry of selling firearms irresponsibly, following the Newtown tragedy, as the industry tried to beat back a ban on semiautomatic rifles. So, here at least, the Don’t Lie campaign could help burnish the industry’s reputation among the few people who aren’t glued to one side or the other.

The Don’t Lie web site,, includes videos and other materials that say straw purchases are responsible for relatively few crimes, since the average length of time between the initial purchase and the use of a gun in a crime is 11 years, according to ATF.   Despite that, straw purchases are a problem: Citing the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the web site also said “40 percent of criminals obtain their firearms from friends or family and another 40 percent obtain their firearms from illegal sources on the street.”

“This warning can help deter an illegal purchase long before a person steps into a licensed retail store,” Stephen L. Sanetti, the NSSF president and CEO, in a written release.

“Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” started in 2000 with the aim of educating retailers as well as the public.

“You can’t always tell if somebody is an illegal purchaser or not, but after a while you will get a feel for it and if things just don’t look right or don’t sound right or don’t present themselves right, that’s when we notify law enforcement as to our belief that this may be a straw purchase,” said Carl Roy, president of the Maryland Association of Firearms Retailer, in a video. 

It’s a laudable effort and obviously retailers are the front-lines soldiers in this, rightly.

As we’ve seen throughout the gun control debate, there’s no easy way to keep guns out of the wrong hands without impeding someone’s rights. The hope here is that “just doesn’t look right” is not a euphemism for racial profiling — which would not be a justifiable means.

A crackdown on straw purchases is part of a much broader set of reforms that’s needed in licensing and background checks for gun purchases. NSSF opposes the so-called “universal background check” for all private gun purchases because, NSSF says, the underlying federal system known as National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is ineffective; retailers would be subject to delays, added costs and potential legal liability; and definitions of gun transfers are confusing.

As long as gun-rights and gun-control advocates continue to press the conversation, it remains possible to address these objections and bring about real reforms, some of which will bring real inconvenience. The Don’t Lie campaign is a good-faith effort by the industry to be part of that conversation.

Coming This Fall: State Tax Amnesty For Two Months, With a Twist

by Categorized: law, Politics, Public finance Date:

Buried in the state budget that takes effect Monday is a tax amnesty program that will give delinquent personal and business taxpayers a 2-month window to lower their interest payments and avoid prosecution.

If you owe a tax dating back to last November or earlier, you can come forward and pay up between Sept. 16 and Nov. 15, with 3 percent interest — not the usual 12 percent.

The state tax amnesty was a little-discussed part of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget plan from the start and it will pull an estimated $35 million out of the woodwork in the 2013-14 fiscal year.  It will cost an estimated $7 million in the following year, money the state figures it would have collected eventually.

Obviously that’s a good tradeoff in a tough budget year. The last time the state offered an amnesty window was 2009, and before that it was 2002 and 1995, according to Charles Lenore, a tax partner in the Day Pitney law firm’s Hartford office.

But this year, apparently for the first time, there’s a stick along with the carrot.  Any taxpayer who  neglected to file in the past and is eligible for the amnesty but fails to come forward during this year’s window will owe an extra 25 percent penalty.

That hefty penalty, which is designed to smoke out more delinquent taxpayers, raises concerns, said Lenore, who generally believes the amnesty is a good move this year.

“It worries me because there can be legitimate differences of opinion as to whether or not you’re supposed to file,” Lenore said. “There’s lots of times when things are gray.”

It’s almost always clear for personal taxpayers. But, for example, a business in another state may or may not have to file in Connecticut depending on whether its operations here form a “nexus,” which basically is a presence in the state.  How many visits by a sales team amount to a nexus?  Not always clear, Lenore said.

Who will likely use the amnesty? It’s not, for the most part, taxpayers who simply shirked their responsibilities. Many are in disputes with the state Department of Revenue Services, part of the usual run of business.

“It runs the complete gamut from small companies that haven’t paid, can’t pay or are late in paying, to companies that are larger that may have audit issues,” Lenore said.

The state’s sales tax, for example, “is so complex, it’s almost impossible to get it right,” he said

The amnesty creates some immediate tension. If a company is now being audited or thinks it might have a dispute, should it pay up at the lower interest rate and eliminate further risk, or take a chance and wait? Everyone in the audit hopper will want the department to finish up before the amnesty window ends.

Most business and personal taxes are part of the amnesty, including the most violated tax law of them all: Failure to pay a use tax, typically 6.35 percent, for goods bought in other states and shipped here. So if you had B&H ship $6,000 worth of video equipment in early 2012 and you didn’t declare and pay that $381 tax on this year’s return, you have another chance to come clean this fall.

Not eligible are taxpayers in a criminal case as of July 1; those who already signed a payment agreement with the department or reached a compromise agreement; and those who are in a “managed agreement” with a deal to have the department oversee a self-audit.

Like other budget tricks, the amnesty is a way of raising a few million more dollars without raising tax rates. It only works if it’s done rarely, of course, since an annual amnesty would just mean a lower interest rate on late bills.

And as the estimated revenue figures show, it’s not all money that the state would have eventually collected.

“Does it bring in money that the state doesn’t know about? It almost certainly does,” Lenore said. “Out-of-state businesses may use it as an opportunity to come forward and start filing.”

For the state, he said, “getting some cents on the dollar today is probably better than waiting some number of years to see whether you collect.”

How The Court Rulings On Gay Rights Help Connecticut

by Categorized: Economy, law Date:

The pair of rulings Wednesday morning on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 represent a double victory for Connecticut’s economy even though they fall short of delivering the right-to-marry order that many had hoped to see.

In fact, the rulings help Connecticut precisely because they don’t confer same-sex marriage rights across the land. In striking down the DOMA, the narrow, 5-4 majority said the federal government cannot take away a legal standing that states choose to allow.

Excerpt of the opinion from SCOTUS Blog:

 The federal statute…for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.

That means states such as Texas and South Dakota, whose governors traveled to Connecticut last week to poach our businesses, are still free to deny same-sex rights. And that gives business owners who live in Connecticut one more factor to think about as they weigh staying or leaving.

Do they want themselves and their employees to live in a place that restricts civil rights? And even if they don’t care about gay rights or if they oppose same-sex marriage, they will have to consider that many potential employees won’t move to states that are less progressive.

And the decision is a double victory because it says that for those states that do confer marriage rights, the federal government can’t take those rights away. That means Social Security and other benefits, and it means there will be a rush at the stroke of midnight on Year’s Eve for married couples of the same sex to become the first to file federal income taxes jointly.

This is the legal opposite of Roe v. Wade, in which the Supreme Court in 1973 said no state may deny reasonable rights to abortion. As we saw in Texas Tuesday night, states are still debating what abortion rights are reasonable 40 years later, but the point is, the court has denied states a lot of leeway in setting abortion rules.

So, yes, an overturning of Roe v. Wade would also help Connecticut, as it would let states decide whether to confer abortion rights, and we all know what places such as Texas and South Dakota would do.

“From a narrow perspective of what helps Connecticut, this ruling is what helps Connecticut,” said UConn economist Fred V. Carstensen. He added that because big companies already bless same-sex unions in their employment policies, “in the short run, it may make the 12 states that are hospitalble to gay marriage more attractive to Fortune 500 companies.”

This is just one of many factors businesses must weigh, and not the biggest one by a long shot. So we’re not going to see a flood of people and companies into the gay-marriage states. But Carstensen said, in a comment that flies in the face of what we’re seeing these days, “The states that are more progressive…are going to be the winners.”

I first heard the economic argument about Roe v. Wade  from Lewis Mandell, an economist and associate dean at the UConn business school who left in the mid-90s. It sounded at first like a crackpot theory or a joke, but it isn’t.  Consider that much of the industrial move to the low-cost South in the ’60s and 70s coincided with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil rights Act, backed up by a series of crucial rulings by the Warren Court.

And if you think recruitment of progressive-minded people doesn’t matter to businesses, think again. We would not be here today talking about federal gay marriage rights if it weren’t for those Fortune 500 companies, which offered health benefits to same-sex couples in the ’90s as part of their desperate search for top-flight, educated workers — long before the first state blessed the first gay marriage.

Now the baby boomers are hitting age 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day, and soon the United States will again be a place where employees can call their own shots — maybe even in slow-growth states like Connecticut.

If those Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers can see a big difference between states, they might just choose to avoid what many perceive as backward places. And gays and lesbians tend to have more education and income than the population as a whole, according to some research.

As it happens, many of the states that are lowest-cost for companies, the red states, will be the ones that restrict abortion rights, deny same-sex marriage, sanction school prayer and a religious curriculum, ban stem-cell research, keep the death penalty and shun gun control.  Personally, I oppose Connecticut’s new ban on semiautomatic rifles that have a pistol grip, but in general I and many other people would not choose to live in a state that had a conservative social agenda.

The California ruling in the Proposition 8 case adds to the state’s rights canon, by remanding the decision back to California rather than striking down the ban on same-sex marriage outright. It isn’t every day that Justice Kagan joins with Justice Scalia.

From SCOTUS Blog:

Here’s a Plain English take on Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage: After the two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court, declined to do so. So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law. But today the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.

Wednesday’s Supreme court ruling confirmed that states have a right to set a social agenda, and that’s part of the reason Connecticut should celebrate. “This puts another arrow in our quiver,” Carstensen said.

Put another way, we need all the help we can get.









Two Months After Gun Control, Stag Arms Prepares To Ship Connecticut-Legal Rifles

by Categorized: law, Manufacturing Date:

Stag Arms will begin shipping its new, Connecticut version of the AR-15 military-style rifle to retailers in the state this week, two months after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law the strict gun controls that outlawed sales of Stag’s entire product line.

The new version is in some ways a breakthrough, in other ways not. Using modified components, it fires a smaller bullet, the standard .22 round, which is much less powerful than the round typically shot by military-style weapons.  The .22 bullet is specifically permitted under the Connecticut law in any firearm.

There are other companies that make a .22 version of the AR-15, including O.F. Mossberg & Sons in North Haven. So it’s not a radical design, but it gives Connecticut Stag customers access to the brand, and it gives the New Britain company sales in its home state.

Stag president Mark Malkowski said his firm worked with the state police firearms unit not only for approval in writing, but also for suggestions. The company made a few modifications that the firearms unit said would make the weapon harder to modify back into a traditional AR-15, taking larger, more powerful rounds known as the Remington .223.

Stag will assemble the first of the firearms this week after receiving components from some vendors, said Malkowski, who said he expects solid sales of the new model.

One retailer, Vic Benson of The Freedom Shoppe in New Milford, said he has already been carrying a brand of the .22-caliber AR-15.

“They’re not flying off the shelves,” Benson said. “Here’s the irony: You come in here you can buy a .22-caliber AR rifle…change the upper caliber in about two seconds. ”

Changing the upper chamber would allow the larger, .223 rounds to be fired again. “It’s illegal to do it but criminals don’t obey the law.”

The Stag version should be less easy to modify. The hope is that Malkowski’s willingness to work with the law doesn’t hurt sales any more than are already hurt. And the breakthrough is that a Connecticut company celebrating its 10th anniversary was able to move a redesigned, manufactured product onto the market in two months.

Benson, like many in the industry, has nothing positive to say about the law.  “They say we should also embrace the spirit of the law but I’ll be honest, the spirit of the law is not anything I care about,” he said. As for the gun control rules themselves, he added,  “What we had before was a big block of swiss cheese with big holes in it. Now we’ve got the same block with a whole bunch of little holes in it.”



Pregnant Cop’s Discrimination Case Highlights Law

by Categorized: Labor, law Date:

Pregnant women are among the people protected by state and federal anti-discrimination laws, and one of the key rules says employers must make a reasonable effort to find suitable work for women whose pregnancy keeps them from their normal line of duty.

A case involving the Wallingford Police Department reached a settlement Friday, and it highlights that rule — specifically, what exactly is a reasonable effort? Officer Annie Balcastro charged that the police chief and the town gave her no choice but to take an unpaid leave in January of 2012, after she became pregnant and was unable to work on regular patrol.

The ACLU of Connecticut, which was part of the case on behalf of Annie Balcastro, says the case is a rare reminder that employers — public sector or private — must heed the law. Rare, because there are not a lot of cases in which that particular rule is at issue.

Lawyers for Wallingford say the case illustrates no such thing, because they followed the rule — but settled for $20,000 to avert costly litigation.

Either way, the case, which was launched as a complaint to the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, is a good window into the law. Balcastro sought work that would accommodate her  inability to, for example, apprehend and handcuff a suspect. Police Chief Douglas Dortenzio, however, runs a department that has no so-called light-duty work, as a matter of policy.  So he rejected options that included desk work and community policing assignments that many departments have.

“We have a policy that if you can’t perform the essential aspects of the job, there is no job for you in law enforcement,” said attorney Michael Rose of Rose Kallor LLP in Hartford, who represented the town. “We can’t make exceptions…we’re not going to go down that slippery slope, and I can tell you there are dozens of departments in this state who do that and they have officers who are making six figures and couldn’t make an arrest if their lives depended on it.”

That’s not okay when it comes to discrimination issues, said Sandra Staub, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut, especially since a sergeant supported the idea of community policing for Balcastro.

“Our contention is that you can’t reconcile ‘no light duty’ with the requirement under the law that you accommodate a pregnant woman,” Staub said. “If the answer is already no, then there was by definition no reasonable effort.”

You might say the town should have offered Balcastro temporary work in a municipal office somewhere. That’s where the facts become muddy in this case. The town said it did make an offer, which she turned down.  Staub said what happened was that Balcastro went to the town after a month of her leave, and asked for something — only to have town officials offer work she wasn’t qualified for, then drag their feet until she was fully disabled due to her pregnancy.

Balcastro, who Rose said was “a good officer and a good person,” gave birth in August. She later resigned from the force to remain with her baby, Staub said.

It’s unfortunate, in a way, that the dispute became muddy on the facts, and that it settled.  Only a few dozen cases involving the rights of pregnant women come before CHRO each year, spokesman Jim O’Neill said, and virtually all are settled. It’s easy to see why, as the town of Wallingford and its insurer in this case would have been nuts to risk hundreds of thousands of dollars when it could walk away for a mere $20,000.

At some point it would be important to have a court decision on that core question: Should a public safety agency have to offer light-duty work to a pregnant woman or otherwise protected person who becomes disabled, even if that agency doesn’t have any light-duty jobs as a matter of policy?

I might side with the taxpayers on that one, but in this case there was an easy answer — a job in a non-police office for Balcastro, offered quickly.