Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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In this case coming to the Supreme Court on certification from a federal district court, the Court was asked to decide questions regarding Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572g. The Court answered the questions as follows: (1) "the amount of indebtedness then outstanding in connection with the credit transaction" is the amount of indebtedness outstanding at the time of the buyer's written demand on the seller for purposes of limiting an assignee's liability under section 52-572g; (2) an assignee can avoid liability under the statute only if the promissory note, contract, or other instrument is reassigned back to the seller prior to the buyer making such a demand; and (3) if a retail installment contract includes the Federal Trade Commission "holder rule" language mandated by 16 C.F.R. 433.2, an assignee's liability under that rule is cumulative to its liability under section 52-572g. View "Hernandez v. Apple Auto Wholesalers of Waterbury, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court awarding postjudgment, offer of compromise interest to Plaintiff under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-192a and Practice Book 17-18, holding that the trial court's award of postjudgment, offer of compromise interest was improper.Plaintiff, an employment staffing agency that providers workers for temporary assignments, commenced this action against Defendant to recover a debt by filing a complaint for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and awarded Plaintiff interest. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court's award of postjudgment interest under section 52-192a and Practice Book 17-18 was improper. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment as to the award of postjudgment interest under section 52-192a, holding that the award of post judgment, offer of compromise interest was improper under Gionfriddo v. Avis Rent A Car system, Inc., 472 A.2d 316 (Conn. 1984). View "Kelly Services, Inc. v. Senior Network, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the appellate court concluding that the trial court had abused its discretion in awarding Plaintiff $18,000 per month in permanent, nonmodifiable alimony, holding that the award constituted an abuse of discretion.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court's orders impermissibly double counted his income by considering it for business valuation purposes and further by awarding alimony on the basis of his income from those businesses. The appellate court agreed and reversed the judgment as to the trial court's financial orders and remanded the case for a new hearing on all financial issues. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the alimony award was an abuse of discretion; and (2) this Court's rule against double counting does not apply when, as in the instant case, the asset at issue is the value of a business. View "Oudheusden v. Oudheusden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of two counts of interfering with an officer, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-167a(a), holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.At issue on appeal was whether the trial court erred in denying Defendant's pretrial motion to suppress on the grounds that he was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment when a marked police cruiser blocked the egress of his vehicle, which was parked with its engine running and Defendant asleep in the driver's seat. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no violation of the Fourth Amendment occurred because the responding officer was checking on Defendant's well-being pursuant to the officer's community caretaking function and was not engaged in an investigatory stop involving criminal activity. View "State v. Pompei" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of three counts of first degree sexual assault and three counts of risk of injury to a child, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the prosecutor did not engage in prosecutorial impropriety in her questioning of the victim; (2) the prosecutor did not engage in prosecutorial impropriety during closing and rebuttal arguments; and (3) the trial court did not violate Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-84(b) or infringe on Defendant's constitutional right to remain silent when it denied his request to instruct the jury that he elected not to testify and instead referred to his failure to testify. View "State v. Michael T." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court reversing decision the judgment of trial court and directing summary judgment for the Town of Ledyard, holding that the ambit of Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-161a includes a directly related federal action that is determinative of a municipality's authority to pursue the underlying state collection proceeding.The Town brought a complaint to collect unpaid taxes for gaming equipment leased by WMS Gaming, Inc. to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, for its gaming operations. The Tribal Nation responded by filing a second action in the federal court challenging the Town's authority to impose the taxes. The parties eventually executed a stipulation and motions for summary judgment as to liability only with respect to the federal action attorney's fees. The trial court concluded that the Town was liable for the federal action attorney fees pursuant to section 12-161a. The appellate court reversed, construing section 12-161a to conclude that the Town's liability for attorney's fees under the statute was limited to the collection proceeding in state court and did not include the related federal court proceeding. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that WMS Gaming was entitled to reasonable attorney's fees within the meaning of section 12-161a. View "Ledyard v. WMS Gaming, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Gaming Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the superior court dismissing as untimely Plaintiff's application to vacate an arbitration award, holding that the thirty-day limitation period set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-420(b) applied to Plaintiff's application to vacate.The trial court concluded that Plaintiff's application to vacate an arbitration award rendered in favor of Defendants was untimely under section 52-420(b) because the application was filed more than thirty days after Plaintiff received notice of the arbitration award. The appellate court affirmed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the appellate court erred in concluding that its application to vacate the arbitration award was governed by section 52-420(b), in contravention of a private agreement between the parties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly held that section 52-420(b) applied to Plaintiff's application to vacate. View "A Better Way Wholesale Autos, Inc. v. Saint Paul" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that the trial court properly denied the motion.Defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to fifty years of incarceration. In his motion to correct an illegal sentence, Defendant argued that the sentencing court substantially relied on materially inaccurate information concerning both his criminal history and the particular manner in which he committed the criminal offense. The trial court denied the motion, and the appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court correctly concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence. View "State v. Francis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of six counts of capital felony, among other crimes, holding that Connecticut's individual voir dire process protected Defendant's right to a fair trial by assessing and mitigating the prejudicial effects of pretrial publicity about this notorious case.The State charged Defendant with six counts of capital felony, three counts of murder, four counts of kidnapping, and other crimes. Following extensive pretrial motions practice, Defendant's case was tried to a jury, which returned a guilty verdict on all counts. The trial court subsequently sentenced Defendant to six consecutive death sentences. On appeal, Defendant claimed, among other allegations of error, that the trial court improperly denied his motion to change the venue of his trial given the effects of prejudicial pretrial publicity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the pretrial publicity did not result in actual jury prejudice that deprived Defendant of a fair trial; and (2) Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining allegations of error. View "State v. Komisarjevsky" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the trial court erred by failing to inquire into defense counsel's alleged conflict of interest.Defendant was convicted of one count of murder and sentenced to fifty years of imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued that his federal constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel was violated during trial when the court denied his motions to dismiss his counsel without adequately inquiring into certain bases for his motions and when the court failed to conduct any inquiry into defense counsel's alleged conflict of interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court inadequately inquired into the bases for Defendant's motions to dismiss defense counsel. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law