Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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In this declaratory action concerning the per stirpes distribution of two family trusts the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court rendering summary judgment for Defendants, the trustees of the trusts and potential beneficiaries, and dismissing this action brought by Plaintiffs, potential beneficiaries, holding that the trial court did not err.The two trusts in this case contained language that, upon the expiration of the trust term, the trust principal was to be distributed to the grantor's issue then living, per stirpes. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the trial court erred in concluding that the language of the trust agreements treated the grantors' children, rather than the grandchildren, as the heads of the respective stirpes for purposes of distributing the trust principal. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that the trust instruments unambiguously provided that the heads of the respective stirpes should be the grantors' children. View "Schwerin v. Ratcliffe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss the murder and tampering with physical evidence charges against her, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that dismissal was not warranted.At issue was whether police officers executing a search and seizure warrant for Defendant's home invaded her attorney-client privilege to the extent the charges against her should be dismissed pursuant to State v. Lenarz, 22 A.3d 536 (Conn. 2011). On appeal, Defendant argued that the police prejudiced all further prosecution against her by examining, reading, and publishing privileged information that was in the arrest warrant application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly determined that Defendant was prejudiced by the examination and seizure of certain privileged documents but that the State demonstrated that the remedial actions that the State and trial court took cured the prejudice to Defendant. View "State v. Kosuda-Bigazzi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment convicting Defendant's criminal possession of a firearm and having a weapon in a motor vehicle, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions.On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to establish that she constructively possessed a firearm under Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-217(a) or that she knowingly had a firearm under Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-38(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the facts and inferences reasonably drawn from the facts sufficiently established Defendant's constructive possession of the firearm beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) in light of the conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's conviction under section 53a-217(a), the same conclusion can be reached to support Defendant's conviction under section 29-38(a). View "State v. Rhodes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court dismissed this petition for certification to appeal from an order of the Appellate Court affirming the order of the trial court denying Defendant's motion for bond modification, holding that three related concerns inform the Court's decision not to exercise jurisdiction over Defendant's claims.Defendant moved for modification of his $250,000 bond and an order granting his release on a promise to appear, asserting that his asthma and sleep apnea put him at a heightened risk of serious consequences should he contract COVID-19. The lower courts denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding (1) the procedural posture of this case would require the Court to exercise jurisdiction on grounds that were not raised by Defendant; (2) the record was devoid of evidence regarding the nature and degree of the risk Defendant claimed was heightened by his detention at a correctional facility; and (3) the fact that Defendant provided no information regarding the scope of the problem among other pretrial detainees was problematic. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction for carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-35(a), holding that there was sufficient evidence that the firearm Defendant was alleged to have been carrying had a barrel length of less than twelve inches.During trial, the State did not present direct, numerical evidence of the length of the firearm's barrel that Defendant was alleged to have been carrying. The State did, however, present relevant circumstantial evidence about the firearm. On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence that he carried a firearm with a barrel length of less than twelve inches. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court correctly concluded that there was sufficient evidence that the firearm had a barrel length of less than twelve inches. View "State v. Covington" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the Appellate Court determining that it was required to apply State v. Hossan-Maxwell, Inc., 436 A.2d 284 (Conn. 1980), to this case, holding that Hossan-Maxwell, Inc. is overruled.Plaintiffs and Defendants entered into agreements for the sale of property. Defendants included list-back provisions in their purchase and sale agreements for two parcels. Plaintiffs later filed suit alleging breach of contract and anticipatory breach. Defendants raised several defenses, arguing, as relevant to this appeal, that the list-back provisions in the parties' purchase and sale agreements were illegal tying arrangements. The trial court ruled for Defendants. The Appellate Court affirmed on the basis of the antitrust defense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court should not have found the list-back agreements unenforceable without first engaging in a full market analysis, as a per se ban on list-back agreements, as applied in Hossan-Maxwell, Inc. is inconsistent with federal antitrust law as it has evolved over the decades; and (2) the trial court's judgments cannot be affirmed under the proper legal standard. View "Reserve Realty, LLC v. Windemere Reserve, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's dismissal of Petitioner's petition for a new trial brought against Respondent, the state's attorney, as time barred, holding that the Appellate Court improperly disregarded the remedial purpose of Conn. Stat. Ann. 52-593a in concluding that the successful fax transmission of process to the state marshal is not personal delivery as contemplated by the savings statute.Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to forty-five years imprisonment. Petitioner subsequently sought to file a petition for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence. Respondent claimed that the petition as time barred because Petitioner did not serve process on him until one day after the expiration of the three-year limitation period. The trial court agreed, determining that there was no proof of timely delivery of process to the state marshal for purposes of section 52-593a because the state marshal did not endorse the date of delivery, and Petitioner failed to provide support for the proposition that a fax constituted personal delivery as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Petitioner satisfied the personal delivery requirement via successfully faxing process to the state marshal for service. View "Johnson v. Preleski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the trial court that the collapse provisions of Insured's homeowners insurance policy unambiguously foreclosed coverage under the circumstances of this case, holding that the trial court did not err.Insured brought this action against Insurer claiming that Insurer breached the homeowners insurance policy it issued by denying coverage for cracks in the basement walls of Insured's home under the collapse provisions of the policy. The trial court granted summary judgment for Insurer because the policy defined "collapse" as "an abrupt falling down or caving in" of the home and because Insured's remained standing and was in no imminent danger of falling down. On appeal, Insured argued that the definition of "collapse" in Beach v. Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co., 532 A.2d 1297 (Conn. 1987), applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, even if this Court agreed that the definition of collapse contained in the policy was ambiguous and that, therefore, Beach's substantial impairment standard applied to Insured's claim, Insured's claim of coverage would fail even under that standard. View "Jemiola v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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The Supreme Court answered certified questions concerning the application of Connecticut insurance law in this action to recover damages for, among other things, breach of an insurance contract, concluding that the definition of "collapse" in Beach v. Middlesex Mutual Assurance co., 532 A.2d 1297 (Conn. 1987), applied in this case.In Beach, the Supreme Court held that the term "collapse," when not defined in a homeowners insurance policy, is "sufficiently ambiguous to include coverage for any substantial impairment of the structural integrity" of the insureds' home. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Beach standard also required a showing that the building was in imminent danger of falling down or caving in. The Supreme Court concluded that it does, holding that the "substantial impairment of structural integrity" standard requires a showing that the building is in imminent danger of falling down or caving in, or in other words, in imminent danger of an actual collapse. View "Vera v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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The Supreme Court reformulated a certified question concerning the application of Connecticut insurance law in this action to recover damages for, among other things, breach of an insurance contract, concluding that the definition of "collapse" in Beach v. Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co., 532 A.2d 1297 (Conn. 1987), applied in this case.At issue before the Supreme Court was the definition of the term "collapse" in a homeowners insurance policy, when otherwise undefined, as set forth in Beach v. Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co., 532 A.2d 1297 (Conn. 1987), as "any substantial impairment of the structural integrity" of the insureds' home. The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut certified questions to the Supreme Court regarding whether Beach's definition of collapse applied in this case. Insureds sued Insurer, claiming that their homeowners insurance policy covered the cracking and tumbling of their concrete basement walls. The Supreme Court held (1) the Beach standard applied to Insureds' policy; (2) the "substantial impairment of structural integrity" standard requires proof that the home is in imminent danger of falling down; and (3) the term "foundation" unambiguously encompasses the basement walls of Insureds' home. View "Karas v. Liberty Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law