Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court insofar as it upheld the trial court's order directing Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for property taxes and insurance premiums, holding that the ordered relief was inconsistent with the remedial scheme available to a mortgagee in a strict foreclosure.At issue was whether a trial court may order a mortgagor to reimburse a mortgagee for the mortgagee's advancements of property taxes and insurance premiums during the pendency of an appeal from a judgment of strict foreclosure. The trial court ordered Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for such property tax and insurance premium payments, and the Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court abused its discretion in directing Defendants to make monetary payments to Plaintiff outside of a deficiency judgment; and (2) the Appellate Court's judgment is affirmed in all other respects. View "JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Ass'n v. Essaghof" on Justia Law

by
In this dispute over who had the authority to lease shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town of Branford, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Town, holding that summary judgment was improper.Plaintiffs had been granted the right of first refusal by Branford's Shellfish Commission to lease certain shellfishing grounds located in the Town, but the Commission leased the grounds to Plaintiffs' competitor. Plaintiff brought this action alleging breach of contract and promissory estoppel and that it enjoyed a right of first refusal. The Town moved for summary judgment, arguing that the right of first refusal was no a valid or enforceable contract because the Commission lacked authority to enter into it. The trial court agreed, holding that only the Town's Board of Selectmen had authority to lease the shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "Shoreline Shellfish, LLC v. Branford" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Appellate Court summarily dismissing Defendants' appeal challenging the priority of Plaintiff's mortgage over Defendants' mortgage for want of a final judgment, holding that a determination of the priority of mortgages can be challenged in an appeal from the judgment of foreclosure by sale, before the foreclosure sale has taken place, when the priority of the foreclosing plaintiff's mortgage is in dispute.Plaintiff sought a judgment of foreclosure on certain real property and a declaratory judgment that his mortgage had priority over an alleged mortgage on the property held by Defendants. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal for want of a final judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the judgment of foreclosure by sale was a final judgment that manifestly met the requirements of Practice Book 61-2. View "Saunders v. KDFBS, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court ordering strict foreclosure, holding that the Appellate Court erred in concluding that an initial entry into a record of debt was not admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule when that entry was provided by a third party in the course of the sale of the debt.Specifically, the Court held that the Appellate Court (1) did not err in concluding that Jenzack Partners, LLC (Jenzack) had standing to foreclose a mortgage executed in support of a personal guarantee of a promissory note given by a third party even though the guarantee was not explicitly assigned to the foreclosing party; and (2) erred in determining that the business records exception did not apply to Jenzack's calculation of the debt owed on the promissory note where the initial entry into the record of the debt was provided by a third party. View "Jenzack Partners, LLC v. Stoneridge Associates, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court with respect to an award of damages, holding that Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-183c applies when the Supreme Court reverses the trial court's judgment as to damages only and remands the case to the trial court to take new evidence and recalculate damages.Plaintiff brought this action to enjoin Defendant from violating certain conservation restrictions on certain of Defendant's real property. The judge trial referee rendered judgment for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case to the superior court with direction to recalculate the award of attorney's fees and damages. The same judge trial referee denied Defendant's motion to disqualify and issued certain orders from which Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment as to damages, holding that section 51-183c, which precludes a judge who tried a case without a jury from trying the case again after the reviewing court reverses the judgment, applied in this case, and the judge trial referee was required to disqualify himself on remand after the first appeal. View "Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Inc. v. Platner" on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's appeal from a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Stamford (zoning board) granting the application of Paul Breunich for variances to reconstruct a legally nonconforming accessory structure on his property after it was damaged by a hurricane, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that the zoning board property granted Breunich's application for variances from the regulations.Plaintiff was the executor of the estate of Gerda Mayer Wittmann, who owned property adjacent to Breunich's property. After the trial court dismissed Plaintiff's appeal, Plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court, renewing his claims that the zoning board improperly granted the variances. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the building retained its status as a legally nonconforming accessory structure, and therefore, Breunich was not barred by the Stamford Zoning Regulations from rebuilding the structure; and (2) the zoning board properly granted the variances on the ground that the enforcement of the regulations would create a hardship. View "Mayer-Wittmann v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment of strict foreclosure in favor of Plaintiff's mortgagee, U.S. Bank National Association, holding that the Appellate Court erred in striking Defendant's special defenses and counterclaims.After Plaintiff commenced this foreclosure action Defendant filed an answer special defenses, and counterclaims. The special defenses sounded in equitable estoppel and unclean hands and the counterclaims sounded in negligence and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq. The trial court granted Plaintiff's motion to strike all of the special defenses and counterclaims on the grounds that the alleged misconduct did not relate to the making, validity, or enforcement of the note or mortgage. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a mortgagee's misconduct that hinders a mortgagor's efforts to cure a default and adds to the mortgagor's debt while the mortgagor is making good faith efforts is a proper basis for special defenses or counterclaims in that action. View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Blowers" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in this action seeking, inter alia, to enforce a foreign judgment, holding that a plaintiff who is neither a party to a mortgage nor an intended beneficiary of the mortgage has no standing to challenge the enforceability of that mortgage under the Connecticut Limited Liability Company Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 34-130.The trial court entered judgment in part for Plaintiff as against the named defendant and entered judgment for defendant Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company (M&T Bank) and set aside certain fraudulent transfers and imposed constructive trusts on certain properties. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff did not have standing to challenge the M&T Bank mortgage; (2) specified transfers between an owner of property and the limited liability companies of which he is either an officer or equity holder constitute fraudulent transfers under the Connecticut Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-552e(a)(1) and (2) and 52-552f; and (3) the doctrine of reverse piercing of the corporate veil is a viable remedy in Connecticut, and the trial court properly applied it to the facts of this case. View "McKay v. Longman" on Justia Law