LEYLA MIRJAVADI et al. v. ANTHONY VAKILZADEH et al., SC 18813
Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk
Torts; Negligence; Whether Trial Court's Factual Findings Supporting Ruling that Father's Abduction of his Daughter was not Reasonably Forseeable Were Clearly Erroneous. In 1995, the plaintiff came to this country from Iran with her husband, Orang Fabriz, and her daughter, Saba, to visit relatives. While in the United States, the plaintiff filed for divorce and was granted political asylum. During the pendency of the divorce, Fabriz was granted rights of visitation with Saba. It was agreed that the visitation would be supervised, and the plaintiff hired defendant Maria Varone to oversee the father-daughter visits. In October, 1996, the defendant supervised a visit scheduled to last between 2 and 5 p.m. at a shopping mall. Fabriz left a restaurant at the mall with the child, claiming he was going to a bookstore across from the restaurant, and instead departed with Saba on a 6 p.m. flight to Istanbul, Turkey. The plaintiff has not seen or heard from her daughter since that day. She brought this negligence and breach of fiduciary duty action, claiming, among other things, that the defendant failed to supervise the visitation properly and failed to report the kidnapping promptly. The trial court found in favor of the defendant and the plaintiff appealed. The Appellate Court (128 Conn. App. 61) reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the case for a new trial, finding that some of the underlying facts found by the trial court were clearly erroneous and therefore undermined confidence in the trial court's judgment for the defendant. Specifically, the Appellate Court found that the record did not support the trial court's findings that the abduction took place as late as after 4 p.m., that the parties agreed that a law student would serve as a substitute for the defendant if the defendant was unavailable, and that the father's abduction of the child was improbable and not reasonably foreseeable. The Supreme Court will review the Appellate Court's determination that several of the facts found by the trial court were clearly erroneous.