Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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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 judgment of the trial court declining to order a new 2019 Democratic primary election for municipal office in the city of Bridgeport pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-329a(b), holding that the trial court did not err in determining that Plaintiffs lacked standing to invoke section 9-329a(a)(1) and that Plaintiffs failed to establish that they were entitled to an order directing a new primary election under section 9-329a(a)(2).Plaintiffs, registered Democrats residing in the city, brought this action alleging that improprieties leading up to the primary election rendered the result so unreliable that it must be set aside. The trial court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss the action for lack of aggrievement with respect to Plaintiff's claim brought pursuant to section 9-329a(a)(1) but denied the motion with respect to the claims brought pursuant to section 9-329a(1)(2). After a trial, the court rendered judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring a claim under section 9-329a(a)(1) because they were not aggrieved; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to establish that they were entitled to an order directing a new special primary election. View "Lazar v. Ganim" on Justia Law

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In this breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress action the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's judgment affirming the trial court's judgment denying Defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict for Plaintiff.This action stemmed from Defendant's handling of Plaintiff's homeowner's insurance claim. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff on both counts. Defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, renewing its motion for a directed verdict, arguing that the verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence presented during Plaintiff's case-in-chief. The trial court denied the motion. On appeal, Defendant contended that the so-called waiver rule - which provides that a defendant waives the right to appeal the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion for directed verdict at the close of the plaintiff's case by opting to introduce evidence in its own behalf - is inapplicable to civil cases in which a trial court reserves decision on a motion for directed verdict. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a court reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury's verdict must consider all of the evidence considered by the jury returning the verdict, not just the evidence presented in the plaintiff's case-in-chief. View "Riley v. Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Co." 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 rendering summary judgment in favor of Defendants after concluding that Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claims were governed by Delaware law and were thus time-barred, holding that Connecticut law, rather than Delaware law, controlled the timeliness of Plaintiff's claims.Plaintiff brought unjust enrichment claims against Defendants seeking recovery for alleged overpayments issued to Defendants by Plaintiff's putative predecessor in interest pursuant to a limited partnership agreement. The trial court concluded that Plaintiff's claims were governed by Delaware law and were therefore time-barred. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Delaware law governed the substantive rights and liabilities of the parties arising out of the limited partnership agreement, but Connecticut law governed matters of judicial administration and procedure; and (2) because Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claims had a common-law origin, the limitation period properly was characterized as procedural, and therefore, Connecticut law governed the timeliness of Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claims. View "Reclaimant Corp. v. Deutsch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court vacating the trial court's order denying David Salinas's motion for a protective order seeking to prohibit the Town of Redding from taking his deposition, holding that there was no appealable final judgment.Redding Life Care, LLC initiated an action against the Town to challenge the assessed value of real property it owned. The Town served Salinas, who had completed two appraisals of that property, with a subpoena compelling him to appear at a deposition. Salinas filed a motion for a protective order seeking to prohibit the Town from taking his deposition, arguing that he could not be compelled to testify as an expert because Connecticut law prohibited the compulsion of such unretained expert testimony. The trial court denied Salinas' motion. Salinas then filed a writ of error. The appellate court granted the writ. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court's order denying Salinas' motion for a protective order was an interlocutory ruling that normally is not appealable; and (2) the order satisfied neither the first or second prong of State v. Curcio, 463 A.2d 566 (Conn. 1983), and thus did not constitute an appealable final judgment. View "Redding Life Care, LLC v. Town of Redding" on Justia Law

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In certified appeal arising from a consolidated zoning appeal and enforcement action relating to a manufacturing facility the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the superior court denying proposed intervenors' motions to intervene and remanding the case for further proceedings, holding that the trial court erred in denying the motions to intervene as untimely.Since 1997, the manufacturing facility at issue had been subject to a stipulated judgment imposing various restrictions on its operation. In 2015, the trial court opened and modified the 1997 stipulated judgment by agreement of the parties. The public, however, had been informed that the parties' joint motion to open and modify the judgment would not be heard until one week later. Two proposed intervenors sought to intervene, alleging environmental harm. The trial court denied the motions to intervene as untimely. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court's expedited consideration of the motion to open and modify the stipulated judgment violated the proposed intervenors' right to timely, accurate notice and their statutory right to intervene and to participate in the hearing on the stipulated judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, adopting the Appellate Court's opinion as a proper statement of the issues and applicable law concerning those issues. View "Griswold v. Camputaro" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court in this interlocutory appeal regarding what preclusive effective to give in this action to the findings and judgment rendered by an English court in a prior action brought by Plaintiff against the named defendant, holding that the Appellate Court correctly found that none of the parties was entitled to the claimed preclusive effect.The English action resulted in a $243,023,089 judgment, plus interest, against the named defendant, Sebastian Holdings, Inc. Plaintiff, Deutsche Bank AG, later commenced the instant action against Sebastian and Alexander Vik, the sole shareholder and sole director of Sebastian. Plaintiff sought to pierce Sebastian's corporate veil and hold Vik personally liable for his corporation's judgment debt. All parties claimed, unsuccessfully, an entitlement to a preclusive effect as a result of the final judgment rendered in the prior English action. The Appellate Court agreed with the trial court that the parties were not entitled to have this action decided in their respective favor on the basis of the alleged preclusive effect of the English judgment. The Supreme Court adopted the Appellate Court's opinion as the proper statement of the issues and the applicable law concerning those issues and affirmed. View "Deutsche Bank AG v. Sebastian Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this writ of error brought by the plaintiffs in error seeking to protect their rights with respect to the judgment of the trial court that was challenged on appeal in Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2019), holding that the writ of error was moot.In its judgment, the trial court resolved a dispute between the Danbury and Waterbury factions of the state’s Independent Party by granting declaratory and injunctive relief directing Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept only those endorsements made pursuant to the party’s 2010 bylaws. The plaintiffs in error were thirteen candidates for the state House of Representatives endorsed by the Danbury faction prior to the trial court’s decision. The endorsed candidates argued that the writ of error was moot because of the Secretary’s unchallenged decision to accept the Danbury faction’s endorsements with respect to twelve of them. The Supreme Court dismissed this action, holding (1) the writ of error was moot; and (2) the defendant in error’s separate request for relief was not properly before the Court. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court for Defendants Michael Telesca and Rocco Frank, Jr. in this battle between the Danbury faction and the Waterbury faction over the control of the state’s Independent Party, holding that the trial court’s decision was timely and that the trial court properly construed Conn. Gen. Laws 9-374.In its decision, the trial court ordered Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept candidate endorsements made pursuant to the 2010 bylaws of the Independent Party of CT-State Central - which, together with its officers, led the Danbury faction and filed the complaint - which, in effect, gave the Waterbury faction control over the Independent Party’s statewide nominations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court’s order of supplemental briefing and oral argument concerning its subject matter jurisdiction preserved its personal jurisdiction over the parties by stopping and later restarting the decision period, thus rendering the court’s decision timely; and (2) the trial court properly determined that section 9-374 rendered the 2010 bylaws controlling, as opposed to bylaws that the Danbury faction had previously filed with the Secretary. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law