Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Contracts

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Defendant was an attorney who represented clients in contingency fee matters that originated while he was a member of a two-person law firm with Plaintiff. After the dissolution of that firm, Defendant continued to represent those clients, and those fees were not paid until after the dissolution. Plaintiff brought this action claiming that Defendant’s failure to pay him those fees constituted, inter alia, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The trial court concluded that Plaintiff was entitled to recover on his claim of unjust enrichment with respect to the contingency fee cases and found that Defendant owed Plaintiff $116,298.89. Defendant appealed, arguing that the award violated the fee splitting provisions of Rule 1.5(e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct because the clients had not consented to the fee sharing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly awarded Plaintiff a portion of the contingency fees that Defendant collected subsequent to the firm’s dissolution. View "Horner v. Bagnell" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff entered into a purchase agreement providing that Plaintiff was to provide various telecommunications equipment, software, and services to Defendant for a switch room located in Los Angeles. Defendant later terminated the purchase agreement. Plaintiff filed a complaint claiming breach of contract for Defendant’s failure to pay the amounts owed and account stated. Defendant counterclaimed for, inter alia, breach of contract for Plaintiff’s failure to provide services under the purchase agreement. The trial court entered judgment for Defendant on the complaint and the breach of contract count of the counterclaim. The court later articulated that Plaintiff had breached the purchase agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not err in concluding that Plaintiff breached the purchase agreement; (2) did not err in finding that Plaintiff failed to prove its breach of contract claim; and (3) properly awarded damages, cost and attorney’s fees in light of a limitation of liability clause in the purchase agreement. View "CCT Communications, Inc. v. Zone Telecom, Inc." on Justia Law
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Defendant Gary Proctor set up an account of electric services for a new business. After Defendant contacted Plaintiff, Connecticut Light and Power Company, Plaintiff provided electric service to the business under an account in Defendant’s name until it disconnected service for non-payment. Plaintiff then brought an action against Defendant for breach of an implied contract and unjust enrichment seeking $14,620 in outstanding bills. The trial court rendered judgment for Plaintiff on the breach of an implied contract count, finding that Defendant manifested assent to enter into an implied in fact contract with Plaintiff under which Defendant would be responsible for payment for the provision of electric services to the company. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Defendant entered into an implied in fact contract with Plaintiff. View "Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Proctor" on Justia Law
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At issue in this case was whether, under Connecticut law, after a judgment debtor’s wages have been garnished, the remaining wages are exempt from execution, and whether the transfer of those wages to a third party constitutes a fraudulent transfer. Pursuant to two state court judgments, The Cadle Company was Terry Fletcher’s judgment creditor, Fletcher owing the company more than $3 million. Since at least 2005, Terry has transferred more than $300,000 of his residual wages to the bank account of his wife, Marguerite Fletcher. The Cadle Company sued the Fletchers in federal district court, alleging, inter alia, that the transfer violated the Connecticut Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (CUFTA). The district court granted the Fletchers’ motion for partial summary judgment, granted The Cadle Company’s motion for partial summary judgment, and ultimately rendered judgment for The Cadle Company in the amount of $401,426 on its CUFTA claim. The Fletchers appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Second Circuit subsequently certified a question to the Supreme Court, which the Court accepted. The Supreme Court answered that Terry’s residual wages would not have been exempt from execution if he had retained possession of them, and therefore, they were subject to execution after Terry transferred them to his wife’s account. View "Cadle Co. v. Fletcher" on Justia Law

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After hiring Plaintiff, Defendant-employer amended its sales commission plan. At dispute in this case was a revised commission provision, which provided that Plaintiff’s commissions would not be paid unless Defendant had invoiced commissionable amount to the client prior to Plaintiff’s termination. After Plaintiff was terminated, he filed a wage statute claim alleging that the commission provision was contrary to public policy and a violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-72. Plaintiff’s remaining two claims were stricken upon Defendant’s motion. After a trial, the court granted judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the commission provision at issue was contrary to public policy. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the trial court (1) improperly determined that the commission provision violated public policy and constituted a violation of section 31-72; (2) erred in striking Plaintiff’s claim alleging breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) did not err in striking Plaintiff’s claim alleging wrongful discharge. Remanded. View "Geysen v. Securitas Security Servs. USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The predecessors of Plaintiff and Defendants entered into a right-of-way agreement that created an express easement for the benefit of property owned by Plaintiff over a driveway located on the property owned by Defendants. Plaintiff commenced this action asserting a quiet title claim and a claim seeking an injunction restoring Plaintiff’s rights under the agreement. Defendants raised special defenses, asserting that Plaintiff’s property had been used for purposes other than “professional offices or residential uses” in violation of the terms of the agreement. The trial court entered judgment for Defendants, concluding that the easement was in effect until Plaintiff’s property was used by a mortgage brokerage, a home health-care agency, and an appliance delivery coordination service, which tenancies terminated the agreement. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Appellate Court improperly concluded that the term “professional offices,” as used in the agreement, was plain an unambiguous; and (2) using the broader definition of the term “professional” indicates that the agreement did not preclude offices of the type that had been previously operated out of Plaintiff’s property. Remanded. View "NPC Offices, LLC v. Kowaleski" on Justia Law

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Decedent entered into a contract for the sale of a parcel of real property to Buyer. Before entering into the contract, Decedent specifically devised the property to Plaintiff, a church, in his will. After Decedent died, a botanical garden and museum claimed entitlement to the proceeds from the sale of the property by the by the coexecutors of Decedent’s estate, due to a charitable pledge made by Decedent prior to his death. The trial court concluded that title to the property passed to Buyer at the signing of the contract under the doctrine of equitable conversion. The appellate court reversed, concluding that equitable conversion did not apply because Decedent died prior to the fulfillment or expiration of a mortgage contingency clause in the contract. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the mortgage contingency clause did not preclude the application of equitable conversion, and equitable title passed to Buyer at the execution of the contract. View "Southport Congregational Church-United Church of Christ v. Hadley" on Justia Law

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Kleen Energy Systems, LLC, an electric generating facility, entered into a contract with Connecticut Light and Power Company, an electric distribution company. A dispute subsequently arose concerning the proper interpretation of the contract’s pricing provision. At the request of Waterside Power, LLC, which had entered into a similar contract with Connecticut Light and Power, the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, acting through the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (the Authority), conducted proceedings to resolve the dispute. Kleen Energy was a participant in, but not a party to, those proceedings. Waterside subsequently filed a petition for a declaratory ruling challenging the decision. The Authority issued a declaratory ruling denying Waterside relief. Kleen Energy filed an administrative appeal from the Authority’s ruling, claiming that it had a contractual right to submit the dispute to arbitration and that the Authority lacked jurisdiction to issue a declaratory ruling to resolve the dispute. The trial court ultimately concluded (1) the Authority had jurisdiction to issue a declaratory ruling to resolve the dispute, (2) Kleen Energy had waived its contractual right to arbitration, and (3) the Authority had properly resolved the dispute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in determining that the Authority had jurisdiction to resolve the pricing dispute. View "Kleen Energy Sys., LLC v. Comm’r of Energy & Envtl. Prot." on Justia Law

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In 2005, Landmark Investment Group, LLC entered into a contract with Chung Family Realty Partnership, LLC (Chung, LLC) to purchase certain property. Chung, LLC repudiated the contract after receiving a more attractive offer from CALCO Construction & Development Company (Calco) and John Senese, Calco’s president and owner (together, Defendants). Landmark successfully sued for specific performance of the contract but was unable to purchase the property after it was sold at a foreclosure auction where a company controlled by Senese was the highest bidder. Landmark then filed suit against Defendants, alleging tortious interference with its contractual relations and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). The jury returned a verdict in favor of Landmark on both counts. The trial court, however, granted Defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and rendered judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court (1) improperly granted Defendants’ motion for JNOV because it failed to view the evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the jury’s verdict; and (2) incorrectly concluded that Landmark presented insufficient evidence to support its claims. View "Landmark Inv. Group, LLC v. CALCO Constr. & Dev. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs manufactured industrial ball bearings, and Defendant was Plaintiffs’ exclusive distributor for certain Nice Ball Bearings, Inc. products. Plaintiffs brought this action for Defendant’s failure to meet its contractual obligations under an agreement between the parties and for Defendant’s anticipatory breach of contract. The trial court ruled in favor of Defendant on Plaintiffs’ claims, finding that Plaintiffs had waived a contractual requirement that Defendant purchase a minimum dollar value of bearings from Plaintiffs each year. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that, even if Plaintiffs had waived the minimum purchase requirement as to certain years of the contract, the trial court clearly erred in finding that the waiver continued into subsequent contract years. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the record contained sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Plaintiffs waived the minimum purchase requirement on a continuing basis. Remanded. View "RBC Nice Bearings, Inc. v. SKF USA, Inc." on Justia Law
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