Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court after concluding that expert testimony was necessary to establish the standard of care in this negligence action, holding that, under the facts of this case, expert testimony was not necessary. Plaintiffs, a minor child, by and through her mother, alleged that the City of Waterbury and the Waterbury Board of Education were negligent for injuries sustained by the child during recess at a Waterbury public school. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court improperly found in the absence of expert testimony that Defendants breached their duty of care to the child on the basis that there was an inadequate number of adults on the playground to supervise the students at the time the child was injured. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the fact finder here did not need to apply scientific or specialized knowledge to determine whether Defendants adequately supervised the children in this case. View "Osborn v. Waterbury" on Justia Law

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In this complaint alleging that a residential loan servicer engaged in systematic misrepresentations and delays over several years of post default loan modification negotiations with mortgagors the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court insofar as it struck Plaintiff's negligence claim but reversed the judgment insofar as the court struck Plaintiffs' claim alleging a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 24-110a et seq., holding the alleged facts could support a claim under CUTPA but would not support a claim of negligence. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant committed unfair or deceptive acts in the conduct of trade or commerce by failing to exercise reasonable diligence in reviewing and processing Plaintiffs' loan modification applications, causing undue delay, and misrepresenting many aspects of the loan modification. Defendant moved to strike both the CUTPA and negligence counts. The trial court granted the motion to strike. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiffs alleged a CUTPA violation sufficient to survive a motion to strike; and (2) Defendant did not owe a common-law duty of care to Plaintiffs, and therefore, the trial court properly struck Plaintiffs' common-law negligence count. View "Cenatiempo v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law

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In this writ of error the Supreme Court held that state courts lack jurisdiction to extend the automatic stay provision of the federal bankruptcy code, 11 U.S.C. 362(a)(1), to motions proceedings against nondebtor plaintiffs in foreclosure actions and overruled Equity One, Inc. v. Shivers, 93 A.3d 1167 (Conn. 2014), on that ground. U.S. Bank National Association brought a foreclosure action against Jacquelyn Crawford. The trial court ordered a foreclosure by sale and appointed Douglas Evans as the committee for sale. Before the sale could be completed Crawford declared bankruptcy and the foreclosure action was stayed. Evans then filed a motion seeking to recover from the bank fees and expenses he incurred in preparing for the sale. Relying exclusively on Shivers, which ruled that courts have authority to extend the application for the automatic stay to nondebtors in unusual circumstances, the trial court concluded that Evans's motion for fees and expenses was stayed. Evans then filed this writ of error. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) state courts do not have jurisdiction to change the status quo by modifying the reach of the automatic stay provision; and (2) Shivers must be overruled. View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Crawford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the trial court's conclusion that Plaintiff was entitled to a credit for income taxes that he paid in New York, thus reversing in part the decision of the Commissioner of Revenue Services assessing personal income tax deficiencies against Plaintiff, holding that the appeal was moot because the Commissioner failed to challenge an independent basis for the trial court's ruling. Plaintiff was a general partner who lived in Connecticut and managed intangible property owned by limited partnerships operating in New York. The Commission concluded that Plaintiff's income consisted income derived from trading intangible property for Plaintiff's own account, and thus it was taxable in this state. The trial court disagreed, concluding that Plaintiff was not trading intangible property for his own account but was trading intangible property owned by the limited partnerships and thus was entitled to a credit for the income tax that he paid in New York. The Commissioner appealed, challenging only one of the two independent bases for the trial court's decision. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot as a consequence of the Commissioner's failure to challenge both grounds for the trial court's decision. View "Sobel v. Commissioner of Revenue Services" on Justia Law

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In this antitrust action alleging that Defendant, a quasi-public agency, engaged in a sham competitive bidding procedure and awarded a contract to a preselected entity for corrupt reasons and in violation of a competitive bidding statute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendant, holding that Plaintiff, a public affairs firm, lacked standing to bring the action. Defendant, an agency responsible for providing solid waste disposal and recycling services to municipalities in the state, issued a request for proposals for the provision of municipal government liaison services. Plaintiff submitted a proposal, but Defendant awarded the liaison services contract to a law firm, whose proposal was noncompliant. Plaintiff later brought this action. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to strike. The trial court granted the motion to strike and rendered judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court vacated the grant of the motion to strike, holding that the trial court improperly denied Defendant's motion to dismiss because Plaintiff lacked standing to bring this action where it did not adequately allege an anti-trust injury. The Court remanded the matter to the trial court to grant Defendant's motion to dismiss. View "Tremont Public Advisors, LLC v. Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's appeal from a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Stamford (zoning board) granting the application of Paul Breunich for variances to reconstruct a legally nonconforming accessory structure on his property after it was damaged by a hurricane, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that the zoning board property granted Breunich's application for variances from the regulations. Plaintiff was the executor of the estate of Gerda Mayer Wittmann, who owned property adjacent to Breunich's property. After the trial court dismissed Plaintiff's appeal, Plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court, renewing his claims that the zoning board improperly granted the variances. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the building retained its status as a legally nonconforming accessory structure, and therefore, Breunich was not barred by the Stamford Zoning Regulations from rebuilding the structure; and (2) the zoning board properly granted the variances on the ground that the enforcement of the regulations would create a hardship. View "Mayer-Wittmann v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning how pre-embryos created through in vitro fertilization should be distributed upon the divorce of their progenitors the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment insofar as the court determined that a storage agreement with the fertility clinic was not enforceable, holding that the parties in this case had an enforceable agreement. Plaintiff and Defendant underwent in vitro fertilization during their marriage, and several pre-embryos resulting from that treatment were stored for implantation at a later date. As part of the storage agreement, the parties stated that they wanted the pre-embryos discarded if they divorced. The parties later divorced, and Plaintiff sought to have the pre-embryos discarded. Defendant, however, wanted the pre-embryos preserved or donated, arguing that the agreement was unenforceable. The trial court determined that the agreement was unenforceable and awarded the pre-embryos to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court incorrectly determined that the storage agreement was unenforceable. View "Bilbao v. Goodwin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence of a firearm that police seized during an investigatory stop, holding that the patdown of Defendant was supported by reasonable and articulable suspicion. Defendant entered a conditional plea of solo contenders to one count of carrying a pistol without a permit and one count of criminal possession of a pistol or revolver. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that the trial court properly concluded that the patdown of Defendant was supported by reasonable and articulable suspicion that he might be dangerous. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court correctly concluded that the trial court properly determined that the patdown of Defendant was lawful under both the federal and state constitutions. View "State v. Lewis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court denying Petitioner's second petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his 1998 murder conviction, holding that the habeas court properly denied the petition. Specifically, the Court held (1) the habeas court correctly concluded that Petitioner failed to establish that he was actually innocent of the murder; (2) the habeas court properly determined that the identification procedures employed in this criminal case did not violate Petitioner's due process rights; (3) the habeas court correctly concluded Petitioner's first habeas counsel did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel; and (4) assuming, for the sake of argument, that the habeas court should have resolved Petitioner's cruel and unusual claims on the merits, Petitioner could not prevail on those claims, and therefore, it need to be determined whether the habeas court improperly applied the doctrine of res judicata. View "Bowens v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court rendering judgment against Petitioner, a juvenile offender, on his claim that the evolution of Connecticut's "standards of decency" regarding acceptable punishments for children who engage in criminal conduct has rendered the transfer of his case to the regular criminal docket and resultant sentencing unconstitutional, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his claims. Petitioner, who was fourteen years old when he committed felony murder, argued that his sentence as an adult after his case was automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket violated the state prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The habeas court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) transferring the case of a fourteen year old defendant to the regular criminal docket comports with evolving standards of decency and, therefore, does not violate the Connecticut constitution; and (2) Petitioner's forty year sentence does not violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment after the provisions of P.A. 15-84 made Petitioner eligible for parole after serving sixty percent of his original sentence. View "Griffin v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law