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Representing the Seriously Injured

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Injured Motorist Sues the Wrong Company in a Personal Injury Law Car Accident Case

Connecticut Personal Injury Lawyers - Hartford, Bristol, Waterbury
ESPN   Disney in a
Personal Injury Case

Manka v. Walt Disney Co., AC 34777 (March 25, 2014)

The Disney entertainment empire started with a mouse.  The ESPN sports behemoth started with cable tv coverage of a small market, long gone hockey team (Go Whalers!).  If you are a NASCAR fan, you know that Nicole Briscoe is a popular sports reporter married to a race car driver.

            In 2008, ESPN signed a contract with Keko Media, Inc. to have Ms. Briscoe provide commentary for ESPN broadcasts.  While driving in a rental car to ESPN in Bristol on December 7, 2008, Ms. Briscoe collided with a car driven by Carrie Manka, who hired a Connecticut personal injury law firm to sue for her injuries.  Her lawyers sued the Disney Company, claiming that Ms. Briscoe was their employee.  No she was not, Disney’s lawyers told the court, and asked the court to dismiss the personal injury automobile accident case for lack of jurisdiction, which the court did.

            Ms. Manka’s lawyers appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court, claiming that Connecticut’s long arm statute, CGS 33-929(f), gave the court jurisdiction because (1) Ms. Briscoe’s contract was to be performed in Connecticut at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol and (2) she had committed a tort in the state by causing a car accident with personal injuries.  Ms. Briscoe, the lawyers claimed, was Disney’s employee because the contract defined ESPN to include its "affiliated" companies.

            In throwing out the case, the trial court found that although Disney and ESPN "appear to be linked through a number of intermediary corporations," Ms. Manka's lawyers did not provide any credible evidence of a direct relationship between the companies.  The Appellate Court agreed that the trial court was justified in deciding that Ms. Briscoe did not work for Disney and in dismissing the personal injury case, noting that the contract provided that Keko would make Ms. Briscoe available to ESPN.

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