Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
Scholz v. Epstein
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the trial court's dismissal of the statutory theft claim Plaintiff brought against Defendant for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground of absolute immunity, holding that there was no error.Defendant, an attorney, represented Benchmark Municipal Tax Services, Ltd., in the foreclosure proceeding underlying this appeal. The appellate court determined that Defendant was entitled to absolute immunity from Plaintiff's claim of statutory theft by concluding that public policy considerations were served by granting Defendant this immunity and that the entirety of Defendant's alleged misconduct occurred within the scope of the foreclosure proceeding. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's arguments on appeal failed. View "Scholz v. Epstein" on Justia Law
Traylor v. State
In this medical negligence action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court rendered in accordance with the court's granting of Defendants' motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, holding that the Court could not reach the merits of Plaintiff's claim that Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-190a is unconstitutional.Plaintiff brought this case against the State and numerous superior court judges, a psychiatrist and his employer, and business entities after his wife committed suicide. The trial court granted judgment for Defendants. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that section 52-190a, which requires a plaintiff to append a good faith certificate and supporting opinion letter to the complaint in cases of medical negligence, is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to challenge the trial court's threshold conclusions that his claims against Defendants were barred by, among other things, the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel, this Court could not address the single substantive issue that Plaintiff raised and that the judgment of the trial court must be affirmed. View "Traylor v. State" on Justia Law
Bozelko v. Papastavros
Defendant served as Plaintiff’s defense counsel in a criminal jury trial in which Plaintiff was convicted of fourteen offenses. While awaiting sentencing, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant, alleging legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. After precluding Plaintiff from presenting expert testimony on the issue of causation due to her failure to disclose an expert witness by a date previously ordered, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that expert testimony was necessary to prove her allegations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that expert testimony was required for Plaintiff to establish the element of causation in her legal malpractice case. View "Bozelko v. Papastavros" on Justia Law
Costello v. Goldstein & Peck, P.C.
Plaintiffs, a married couple proceeding as self-represented parties, commenced a legal malpractice action against Defendants by way of a complaint and a summons. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the writ of summons failed to provide either a recognizance by a third party or a certification of Plaintiffs’ financial responsibility. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the action. The Appellate Court summarily affirmed the judgment of dismissal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to afford Plaintiffs an opportunity to file a bond to avoid dismissal of the action. Remanded. View "Costello v. Goldstein & Peck, P.C." on Justia Law
Stuart v. Freiberg
Plaintiffs and their older brother, Kenneth Stuart, Jr. (Kenneth) were the children of Kenneth Stuart, Sr. (Stuart). When Stuart died, Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that Kenneth, who became an estate fiduciary, unduly influenced Stuart and breached numerous fiduciary duties owed to them as estate beneficiaries. Throughout much of Plaintiffs’ litigation against Kenneth, Kenneth engaged Defendant as a certified public accountant. Ultimately, the trial judge ruled against Kenneth and awarded monetary damages to Stuart’s estate. Plaintiffs then commenced the present action against Defendant alleging that Defendant prepared inaccurate and misleading financial statements that facilitated the misappropriation of estate funds by Kenneth. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Appellate Division reversed in part and remanded. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs, in objecting to summary judgment, did not present sufficient counterevidence of their reliance on Defendant’s financial statements or a casual connection between his financial statements and their alleged injuries, as was necessary to demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact existed on the counts of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and accounting malpractice. View "Stuart v. Freiberg" on Justia Law
Greenwald v. Van Handel
Plaintiff filed a professional negligence action against Defendant, a licensed clinical social worker, alleging that Defendant negligently failed to treat Plaintiff after Plaintiff disclosed to Defendant that he had viewed child pornography. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant’s failure to treat him caused him to be subjected to a police task force raid, which allegedly caused Plaintiff mental distress and other injuries due to potential criminal prosecution. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to strike Plaintiff’s amended complaint on the ground that it would violate public policy to allow Plaintiff to profit from his own criminal acts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that it would clearly violate public policy to impose a duty on Defendant to protect Plaintiff from injuries arising from his potential criminal prosecution for the illegal downloading, viewing, and/or possession of child pornography.View "Greenwald v. Van Handel" on Justia Law
Iacurci v. Sax
From 1989 to 2006, Larry Sax, a certified public accountant, prepared federal and state income tax returns for Plaintiff on behalf of the accounting firm Cohen Burger, Schwartz & Sax, LLC. In 2009, Plaintiff filed a professional malpractice and negligence action against Sax and the accounting firm (collectively, Defendants). Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the applicable three year statute of limitations. The trial court granted the motion, concluding that a genuine issue of material fact did not exist as to whether Defendants’ alleged fraudulent concealment tolled the statute of limitations. The Appellate Court affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, contending that, in connection with a claim of first impression regarding shifting the burden of proving fraudulent concealment in cases involving fiduciaries, the Appellate Court improperly concluded that there was no fiduciary duty under the facts of this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to establish a fiduciary relationship with Defendants, his theory of fraudulent concealment did not serve to toll the three year statute of limitations for torts. View "Iacurci v. Sax" on Justia Law
Meyers v. Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly, P.C.
Plaintiff retained Defendant, a law firm, to represent Plaintiff in an action against other parties. After Plaintiff settled the underlying suit, Plaintiff filed a breach of contract action against Defendant, alleging that Defendant breached its duty of undivided loyalty and failed to follow Plaintiff’s instructions in the underlying lawsuit. The trial court characterized the allegations against Defendant as sounding in legal malpractice and granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations applicable to legal malpractice claims. At issue on appeal was whether Plaintiff’s cause of action was one for malpractice, to which a three-year statute of limitation applied, or contract, to which a six-year statute of limitations applied. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly characterized Plaintiff’s claim as sounding in legal malpractice.View "Meyers v. Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly, P.C." on Justia Law
Jones v. Conn. Med. Examining Bd.
Plaintiff, a licensed physician and surgeon, was charged with violating the applicable standard of care in his treatment of two children. The Connecticut Medical Examining Board (board) found that Plaintiff had violated the standard of care with respect to his treatment of both children and ordered a reprimand, imposed fines, and placed Plaintiff on probation for two years. The trial court primarily affirmed, as did the appellate court. Plaintiff appealed, asserting that the appellate court incorrectly concluded that the preponderance of the evidence standard applied in his disciplinary hearing rather than the clear and convincing evidence standard. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the preponderance of the evidence standard applied at the proceeding because the board is an administrative agency subject to the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act, under which the preponderance of the evidence is the default standard of proof; and (2) the use of the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof at a physician disciplinary proceeding does not offend a physician's due process rights. View "Jones v. Conn. Med. Examining Bd." on Justia Law
Woodbury Knoll, LLC v. Shipman & Goodwin, LLP
The primary issue in this case was whether a nonparty attorney may bring a writ of error from a trial court's order requiring the attorney to comply with a clear and definite discovery request. The plaintiff in error, Finn, Dixon & Herling, LLP (Finn Dixon) brought this writ of error from an order of the trial court requiring it to comply with a subpoena duces tecum issued by the defendants in error, Shipman & Goodwin, LLP, and Carolyn Cavolo (Defendants), who were also the defendants in the underlying case. Finn Dixon contended that the trial court improperly denied its motion to quash, in which it claimed that Defendants sought materials protected by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) the trial court's order was an appealable final judgment; and (2) the trial court improperly denied Finn Dixon's motion to quash the subpoena. Remanded. View "Woodbury Knoll, LLC v. Shipman & Goodwin, LLP" on Justia Law