Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Bankruptcy
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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 affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting motions to dismiss Plaintiff's state law claims for vexatious litigation and unfair and deceptive business acts or practices during Plaintiff's underlying bankruptcy proceeding, holding that the trial court properly dismissed the claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the claims were preempted by federal bankruptcy law.Plaintiff, who had previously filed a bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court, brought this action asserting claims of vexatious litigation and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq. The trial court dismissed the claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Congress implicitly preempted state law actions by occupying the field of bankruptcy law and that, in the field of law, the federal interest is so dominant that federal law is assumed to preclude enforcement of state laws on the subject. View "Metcalf v. Fitzgerald" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s complaint and Defendant’s counterclaim for damages and declaratory judgment. This case stemmed from a purchase agreement entered into by the parties in which Plaintiff was to provide various equipment and services to Defendant for a telecommunications switch room. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court incorrectly concluded that Plaintiff breached the purchase agreement by filing a petition for bankruptcy protection under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code; and (2) the trial court erred in determining that Defendant was within its rights to terminate the purchase agreement upon Plaintiff’s initiation of bankruptcy proceedings. View "CCT Communications, Inc. v. Zone Telecom, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy, Contracts
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After the bankruptcy court granted Plaintiff a discharge of her debts, Plaintiff filed this action against the named defendants, alleging misuse of funds of a trust established by her mother. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to substitute the bankruptcy trustee as the proper plaintiff. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Plaintiff failed to show that she had brought the action in her own name due to a mistake. The court then dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. While Plaintiff’s appeal was pending, the bankruptcy court granted the bankruptcy trustee’s motion to abandon the underlying cause of action. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal as moot, holding that because the bankruptcy trustee abandoned the underlying action and Plaintiff no longer was seeking to substitute the trustee as party plaintiff, resolution of this claim would afford Plaintiff no practical relief. View "Gladstein v. Goldfield" on Justia Law

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Getty Properties Corp. leased certain properties to Getty Petroleum Marketing, Inc. by way of a master lease. Getty Marketing sublet the properties to Green Valley Oil, LLC. Thereafter, Green Valley entered into an individual sub-sublease with each Defendant, the owners of retail gasoline stations. Getty Properties subsequently terminated the master lease. Getty Marketing then filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court rejected the master lease and ordered that Getty Marketing relinquish possession of the properties to Getty Properties. Getty Properties and NECG Holdings Corp. served Defendants with notices to quit, but Defendants refused to vacate the properties. Plaintiffs subsequently commenced summary process actions against Defendants. The trial court rendered judgment of immediate possession for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in (1) determining that Plaintiffs’ notices to quit were valid; (2) admitting into evidence the lease between Getty Properties and Getty Marketing, as well as the sublease between Getty Marketing and Green Valley; (3) interpreting the various pleadings in Getty Marketing’s bankruptcy case as terminating the lease and the sublease; (4) finding that Plaintiffs proved a prima facie case for summary process; and (5) failing to dismiss the summary process action as premature. View "Getty Props. Corp. v. ATKR, LLC" on Justia Law