PAUL MORASKI et al. v. STATE OF CONNECTICUT, BOARD OF EXAMINERS OF EMBALMERS AND FUNERAL DIRECTORS, SC 18248

Judicial District of New Britain

 

Public Health; Occupational Licensing; Summary Suspension; Whether Summary Suspensions Violated the Plaintiffs' Constitutional Rights; Whether Trial Court Properly Dismissed the Plaintiffs' Appeal from Board's Decision Revoking Licenses and Imposing Penalty. Paul Moraski, who held a license to practice as an embalmer in Connecticut, operated Colonial Funeral Home (Colonial). Colonial held a funeral home inspection certificate, which permitted it to operate as a funeral service business in Connecticut. In connection with allegations of misconduct in arranging a funeral, the department of public health (department) brought statements of charges against Moraski and Colonial (the plaintiffs). The department also filed motions to summarily suspend Moraski's license and Colonial's certificate, alleging a clear and immediate danger to public health and safety. The defendant board of examiners of embalmers and funeral directors suspended Moraski's license and Colonial's certificate pending a final determination. In doing so, it found, based on the supporting affidavits, that emergency action was required. On the first day of the subsequently scheduled hearing, the defendant permitted the department to amend its statements of charges to add a new count concerning misconduct with respect to another funeral. It also permitted the department to add new allegations of misconduct involving an out-of-state witness. After hearing the evidence, the defendant found, among other things, that Moraski insisted on cash payments for services, failed to provide statutorily required price lists, improperly stored human remains, and used abusive language toward family members and employees of other funeral homes. It determined that these actions constituted grounds for disciplinary action under subsections (2), (4) and (5) of General Statutes 20-227. Accordingly, the defendant revoked Moraski's license and Colonial's certificate and imposed a fifty thousand dollar civil penalty upon Moraski. The plaintiffs appealed to the Superior Court, challenging, among other things, the defendant's actions in ordering the summary suspensions without a hearing and in permitting the department to amend its statements of charges. The court dismissed their appeal, finding that the summary suspension issue was moot because, as Moraski's license had been permanently revoked, there was no practical relief available. The court also rejected the plaintiffs' other claims. On appeal, the plaintiffs contend, among other things, that the trial court improperly dismissed the claim concerning the summary suspensions, arguing that these suspensions deprived them, without due process, of their property interest in the continued practice of their profession. They further argue that the court wrongly found that the board properly permitted the department to proceed upon the amended statements of charges.