Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics

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Defendant served as Plaintiff’s defense counsel in a criminal jury trial in which Plaintiff was convicted of fourteen offenses. While awaiting sentencing, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant, alleging legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. After precluding Plaintiff from presenting expert testimony on the issue of causation due to her failure to disclose an expert witness by a date previously ordered, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that expert testimony was necessary to prove her allegations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that expert testimony was required for Plaintiff to establish the element of causation in her legal malpractice case. View "Bozelko v. Papastavros" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a married couple proceeding as self-represented parties, commenced a legal malpractice action against Defendants by way of a complaint and a summons. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the writ of summons failed to provide either a recognizance by a third party or a certification of Plaintiffs’ financial responsibility. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the action. The Appellate Court summarily affirmed the judgment of dismissal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to afford Plaintiffs an opportunity to file a bond to avoid dismissal of the action. Remanded. View "Costello v. Goldstein & Peck, P.C." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs and their older brother, Kenneth Stuart, Jr. (Kenneth) were the children of Kenneth Stuart, Sr. (Stuart). When Stuart died, Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that Kenneth, who became an estate fiduciary, unduly influenced Stuart and breached numerous fiduciary duties owed to them as estate beneficiaries. Throughout much of Plaintiffs’ litigation against Kenneth, Kenneth engaged Defendant as a certified public accountant. Ultimately, the trial judge ruled against Kenneth and awarded monetary damages to Stuart’s estate. Plaintiffs then commenced the present action against Defendant alleging that Defendant prepared inaccurate and misleading financial statements that facilitated the misappropriation of estate funds by Kenneth. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Appellate Division reversed in part and remanded. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs, in objecting to summary judgment, did not present sufficient counterevidence of their reliance on Defendant’s financial statements or a casual connection between his financial statements and their alleged injuries, as was necessary to demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact existed on the counts of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and accounting malpractice. View "Stuart v. Freiberg" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a professional negligence action against Defendant, a licensed clinical social worker, alleging that Defendant negligently failed to treat Plaintiff after Plaintiff disclosed to Defendant that he had viewed child pornography. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant’s failure to treat him caused him to be subjected to a police task force raid, which allegedly caused Plaintiff mental distress and other injuries due to potential criminal prosecution. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to strike Plaintiff’s amended complaint on the ground that it would violate public policy to allow Plaintiff to profit from his own criminal acts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that it would clearly violate public policy to impose a duty on Defendant to protect Plaintiff from injuries arising from his potential criminal prosecution for the illegal downloading, viewing, and/or possession of child pornography.View "Greenwald v. Van Handel" on Justia Law

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From 1989 to 2006, Larry Sax, a certified public accountant, prepared federal and state income tax returns for Plaintiff on behalf of the accounting firm Cohen Burger, Schwartz & Sax, LLC. In 2009, Plaintiff filed a professional malpractice and negligence action against Sax and the accounting firm (collectively, Defendants). Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the applicable three year statute of limitations. The trial court granted the motion, concluding that a genuine issue of material fact did not exist as to whether Defendants’ alleged fraudulent concealment tolled the statute of limitations. The Appellate Court affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, contending that, in connection with a claim of first impression regarding shifting the burden of proving fraudulent concealment in cases involving fiduciaries, the Appellate Court improperly concluded that there was no fiduciary duty under the facts of this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to establish a fiduciary relationship with Defendants, his theory of fraudulent concealment did not serve to toll the three year statute of limitations for torts. View "Iacurci v. Sax" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff retained Defendant, a law firm, to represent Plaintiff in an action against other parties. After Plaintiff settled the underlying suit, Plaintiff filed a breach of contract action against Defendant, alleging that Defendant breached its duty of undivided loyalty and failed to follow Plaintiff’s instructions in the underlying lawsuit. The trial court characterized the allegations against Defendant as sounding in legal malpractice and granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations applicable to legal malpractice claims. At issue on appeal was whether Plaintiff’s cause of action was one for malpractice, to which a three-year statute of limitation applied, or contract, to which a six-year statute of limitations applied. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly characterized Plaintiff’s claim as sounding in legal malpractice.View "Meyers v. Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly, P.C." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a licensed physician and surgeon, was charged with violating the applicable standard of care in his treatment of two children. The Connecticut Medical Examining Board (board) found that Plaintiff had violated the standard of care with respect to his treatment of both children and ordered a reprimand, imposed fines, and placed Plaintiff on probation for two years. The trial court primarily affirmed, as did the appellate court. Plaintiff appealed, asserting that the appellate court incorrectly concluded that the preponderance of the evidence standard applied in his disciplinary hearing rather than the clear and convincing evidence standard. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the preponderance of the evidence standard applied at the proceeding because the board is an administrative agency subject to the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act, under which the preponderance of the evidence is the default standard of proof; and (2) the use of the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof at a physician disciplinary proceeding does not offend a physician's due process rights. View "Jones v. Conn. Med. Examining Bd." on Justia Law

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The primary issue in this case was whether a nonparty attorney may bring a writ of error from a trial court's order requiring the attorney to comply with a clear and definite discovery request. The plaintiff in error, Finn, Dixon & Herling, LLP (Finn Dixon) brought this writ of error from an order of the trial court requiring it to comply with a subpoena duces tecum issued by the defendants in error, Shipman & Goodwin, LLP, and Carolyn Cavolo (Defendants), who were also the defendants in the underlying case. Finn Dixon contended that the trial court improperly denied its motion to quash, in which it claimed that Defendants sought materials protected by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) the trial court's order was an appealable final judgment; and (2) the trial court improperly denied Finn Dixon's motion to quash the subpoena. Remanded. View "Woodbury Knoll, LLC v. Shipman & Goodwin, LLP" on Justia Law