Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
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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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In this breach of contract action, the Supreme Court reversed in part the trial court's judgment rendered in favor of Plaintiff as to his derivative claims, holding that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring them under the common law or the Connecticut Limited Liability Company Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 34-100 et seq., but affirmed the judgment for Plaintiff as to his direct claims.This case arose from the deterioration of a business relationship between three individuals. Plaintiff sought damages for, inter alia, breach of contract. Defendants filed a counterclaim. The trial court awarded judgment in part for Plaintiff on the complaint and on the counterclaim. The Supreme Court reversed in part and vacated the court's award of attorney fees under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., holding (1) Plaintiff lacked standing to bring his derivative claims; and (2) the trial court properly entered judgment for Plaintiff on his direct counts and did not abuse its discretion in refusing to order Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for the fees incurred by a joint, court-appointed fiduciary hired to wind up the companies at issue. View "Saunders v. Briner" 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 action brought by the administrators of the estates of nine people killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Supreme Court held that the trial court properly determined that, although the trial court properly struck most of Plaintiffs’ claims against various manufacturers, distributors and sellers of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S semiautomatic rifle, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), 15 U.S.C. 7901 through 7903, did not bar Plaintiffs’ claims that Defendants violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., by marketing the firearm to civilians for criminal purposes and that those wrongful marketing tactics contributed to the massacre.Adam Lanza carried out the massacre using a XM15-E2S. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment that most of Plaintiffs’ claims were precluded by established Connecticut law and/or PLCAA. However, as to Plaintiffs’ claims that Defendants knowingly marketed, advertised, and promoted the XM15-E2S for civilians to use to carry out offensive, military style combat missions, the Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs pleaded allegations sufficient to survive a motion to strike because (1) PLCAA does not bar Plaintiffs’ wrongful marketing claims; and (2) to the extent that it prohibits the unethical advertising of dangerous products for illegal purposes, CUTPA qualifies as a predicate statute. View "Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms International, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the Appellate Court, which reversed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendant on both Plaintiff’s complaint seeking recovery on six promissory notes and on Defendant’s counterclaim alleging a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). On appeal, Plaintiff challenged only the scope of the Appellate Court’s remand order, arguing that the court erred in ordering a new trial rather than restricting the remand proceedings to a hearing in damages. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court in part, holding that a new trial was unnecessary because Defendant lacked standing to pursue a claim alleging a violation of CUTPA. View "Channing Real Estate, LLC v. Gates" on Justia Law

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The trial court found that VitalWorks, Inc. and Cerner Physician Associates, Inc. (together, Defendants) violated the Connecticut Unfair trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by making misrepresentations during the sale of practice management and electronic medical records software to Western Dermatology Consultants, P.C. (Plaintiff). The Appellate Court reversed and directed the trial court to render judgment for Defendants on the CUTPA count, concluding that, under applicable choice of law principles, the law of New Mexico, rather than CUTPA, governed Plaintiff’s unfair trade practices claim. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court with respect to its disposition of Plaintiff’s CUTPA claim and otherwise affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court did not err in determining that Plaintiff’s unfair trade practices claim is governed by New Mexico law, but the case must be remanded for a new trial so that New Mexico law can be applied to that claim. Remanded to the trial court for a new trial on Plaintiff’s unfair trade practices claim. View "Western Dermatology Consultants, P.C. v. VitalWorks, Inc." 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, automobile body shops and an auto body association, brought this class action against Defendant, The Hartford Fire Insurance Company, on behalf of more than 1,000 independent auto body repair shops in Connecticut, claiming that Defendant violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by requiring its staff motor vehicle physical damage appraisers to use, when appraising auto body damage sustained by Defendant’s insureds, the hourly labor rates agreed on by Defendant and the plaintiff auto body shops instead of rates that more accurately reflect the actual value of those services. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs, concluding that Defendant’s hourly rate practices constituted an unfair trade practice because they offended the public policy found in section 38a-790-8 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court incorrectly concluded that section 38a-790-8 supports Plaintiffs’ CUTPA claim alleging unfair labor rate practices. View "Artie's Auto Body, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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John and Jane Couto entered into a contract with Joseph General Contracting, Inc. for the purchase and construction of a home and carriage house. The trial court found that the contract existed also between the Coutos and Anthony Silvestri, the owner and president of Joseph General. After disputes arose regarding the construction of the dwellings, Joseph General sued the Coutos for, inter alia, breach of contract. The Coutos counterclaimed against Joseph General, Silvestri and Landel Realty, LLC. The trial court held Joseph General, Landel and Silvestri each jointly and severally liable for breach of contract and implied warranty, trespass and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). Silvestri appealed the propriety of these adverse rulings with respect to his personal liability. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment pertaining to Silvestri in an individual capacity. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court as to the claims of breach and contract and implied warranty against Silvestri in his individual capacity and affirmed in all other respects, holding that the Appellate Court (1) erred in determining that Silvestri had incurred contractual obligations to the Coutos in his individual capacity; and (2) properly determined that Silvestri could be held individually liable for alleged violations of CUTPA. View "Joseph Gen. Contracting, Inc. v. Couto" on Justia Law

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Fairchild Heights Residents Association, Inc. (Association), filed suit against Defendant, Fairchild Heights, Inc., for negligence and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). The trial court found in favor of Defendant on all counts. The Association appealed, arguing that the appellate court erred in concluding that it failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before requesting declaratory relief and that it did not have standing to bring an action under CUTPA. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the Association had standing to assert a CUPTA claim, as (1) there was no administrative remedy the association could have exhausted to obtain the relief it sought before bringing its CUTPA claim; and (2) the Association did not require the participation of all its individual members to allege ascertainable loss for the purpose of obtaining injunctive and other equitable relief under CUTPA. Remanded for a new trial on Plaintiff’s CUTPA claim. View "Fairchild Heights Residents Ass’n, Inc. v. Fairchild Heights, Inc." on Justia Law