This post was co-authored by Ben Jensen, member Robinson+Cole’s Technology Industry Team.
On July 25, 2023, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued an opinion in High Watch Recovery Center, Inc. v. Dept. of Public Health that addresses the subject of the right to file an appeal of a Certificate of Need (CON) decision under the Connecticut Uniform Administrative Procedure Act (APA). High Watch involved a case where a party was allowed to intervene in a CON proceeding after the state CON agency had already elected to hold a discretionary hearing on the application at issue. A trial court declined to hear the appeal, and the Appellate Court affirmed that declination, on the basis that there was no “contested case” and no right to appeal the decision in Superior Court because the intervenor never expressly requested a hearing. The Supreme Court reversed this holding, concluding that intervention in opposition to the application was sufficient to render the case contested without need for the intervenor to request a hearing that was already scheduled. The ruling is significant in that it rejects a rigid application of the statutes governing CON procedures and instead focuses on the substance of the public hearing at issue in assessing whether a contested case is presented. Understanding the distinction between mandatory and discretionary hearings is an essential consideration for parties to CON proceedings to avoid foreclosing potential appellate rights.