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Tort Law

Tort Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5319

AC45094 - Booth v. Park Terrace II Mutual Housing Ltd. Partnership (Premises liability; negligence; summary judgment; request for admission pursuant to rule of practice (§ 13-22); "The plaintiff, Joseph M. Booth, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting motions for summary judgment filed by the defendants, Park Terrace II Mutual Housing Limited Partnership and Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, Inc. (collectively, owner defendants), and Crosskey Architects, LLC, and TO Design, LLC (collectively, design defendants), and denying the plaintiff's request to amend his complaint and his motion to preclude expert testimony. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court (1) improperly rendered summary judgment because genuine issues of material fact exist, (2) abused its discretion in denying his request to amend his complaint, and (3) abused its discretion in denying his motion to preclude the expert affidavit offered in support of the owner defendants' motion for summary judgment. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC44587 - Aviles v. Barnhill (Premises liability; negligence; motion for summary judgment; "The plaintiffs, Dominique Aviles, individually and on behalf of her minor child, Xavier Bauza, appeal from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant landlord, H-Squared Construction, LLC, on two counts of the plaintiffs' complaint asserting negligence against the defendant arising from an off premises attack by a dog owned by one of its tenants. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the court incorrectly determined that the defendant could not be held liable as a matter of law because, contrary to the court's conclusion, Connecticut case law provides that a landlord has a duty of care under a premises liability theory to use reasonable care to prevent injuries to third parties from known vicious dogs housed on the property by a tenant, including, in certain circumstances, from a dog attack occurring off of the landlord's property. The plaintiffs also argue that this court should adopt § 379A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts (§ 379A), which, if its elements are met, would extend liability to the defendant regardless of where the attack took place. We disagree with the plaintiffs' first claim and conclude that, within the specific context of off premises dog attacks, landlords do not owe a duty of care to injured third parties under a theory of premises liability. We also decline to adopt § 379A for this particular context because we determine that doing so would be contrary to our appellate precedent. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5310

SC20633 - Devine v. Fusaro ("On July 24, 2012, the decedent, Timothy Devine, fatally shot himself with a handgun after state police officers fired nonlethal ammunition at him in an unsuccessful effort to cause him to drop or to surrender his weapon. The plaintiff, Michael Devine, as administrator of the decedent’s estate, filed a wrongful death action against four state police officers—the defendants, Louis Fusaro, Jr., Steven Rief, Michael Avery, and Kevin Cook—alleging that their intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct caused the death of the decedent. The defendants moved to dismiss the action, claiming that it was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity or, alternatively, the statutory grant of immunity set forth in General Statutes § 4-165. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, concluding that the plaintiff’s action was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity pursuant to the four factor test set forth in Spring v. Constantino, 168 Conn. 563, 568, 362 A.2d 871 (1975). See id. (articulating ‘‘the following criteria for determining whether [a] suit is, in effect, one against the state and cannot be maintained without its consent: (1) a state official has been sued; (2) the suit concerns some matter in which that official represents the state; (3) the state is the real party against whom relief is sought; and (4) the judgment, though nominally against the official, will operate to control the activities of the state or subject it to liability’’ (internal quotation marks omitted)).

The Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the trial court, reasoning that the Spring test does not apply because the operative complaint unequivocally stated that ‘‘[t]he defendants are sued in their individual capacit[ies].’’ (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Devine v. Fusaro, 205 Conn. App. 554, 576, 259 A.3d 655 (2021); see id., 585. Alternatively, the Appellate Court determined that the trial court misapplied the third factor of the Spring test because it ‘‘was required to give far greater weight to the fact that the plaintiff specifically pleaded that he brought the action against the defendants in their individual capacities.’’ Id., 582–83. Accordingly, the Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case with direction to ‘‘consider the remaining ground raised in the motion [to dismiss], namely, whether the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently alleges reckless, wanton, or malicious conduct such that, if proven, the defendants would not be entitled to statutory immunity under § 4-165.’’ Id., 585. We granted the defendants’ petition for certification to appeal, limited to the following issue: ‘‘Did the Appellate Court correctly conclude that, when a court determines whether sovereign immunity bars a claim against state officials or employees for actions taken in the exercise of their duties, the [Spring] test . . . ‘has no applicability’ when a plaintiff designates that the state officials or employees have been sued in their individual capacities?’’ Devine v. Fusaro, 339 Conn. 904, 260 A.3d 1224 (2021).

After examining the entire record on appeal and considering the briefs and oral arguments of the parties, we have determined that that the appeal should be dismissed on the ground that certification was improvidently granted.

The appeal is dismissed.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5298

AC44600 - King v. Hubbard ("The defendant, Matthew Hubbard, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying his motion to restore to the active docket a civil action that was brought against him by the plaintiffs, Laura King and Richard King, and later voluntarily withdrawn. The defendant claims that (1) the court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to restore the action to the active docket and (2) this court should fashion a procedural mechanism to guide trial courts when a plaintiff withdraws an action in response to a special motion to dismiss pursuant to General Statutes § 52-196a, which affords protection against so-called SLAPP lawsuits. We affirm the judgment of the court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5293

SC20597 - Solon v. Slater ("This appeal requires us to decide the scope of the preclusive effect, in a subsequent tort action in the Superior Court, of an unappealed Probate Court decree admitting a will to probate. The plaintiff, Linda Yoffe Solon, filed the present lawsuit against the defendants, Joseph M. Slater and Joshua Solon, alleging that they tortiously interfered with her contractual relations and right of inheritance by exercising undue influence over her husband, Michael Solon (decedent), with respect to two different legal instruments, a proposed amendment to an antenuptial agreement and a testamentary will. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, concluding in pertinent part that both of the plaintiff’s tortious interference claims were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the Probate Court previously had admitted the decedent’s will to probate after rejecting the plaintiff’s claim that the decedent executed the will as a result of the defendants’ undue influence. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. See Solon v. Slater, 204 Conn. App. 647, 665, 253 A.3d 503 (2021).

The issue before us is whether both of the plaintiff’s tortious interference claims in her civil tort action are barred by either the doctrine of collateral estoppel, as the courts below concluded, or the doctrine of res judicata, which the defendants have raised as an alternative ground for affirmance. We conclude that neither preclusion doctrine bars the plaintiff from litigating her tortious interference with contractual relations claim, which relates to the proposed amended antenuptial agreement, because the Probate Court did not actually or necessarily determine whether the defendants tortiously interfered with that contract and the plaintiff lacked an opportunity to litigate her claim in the Probate Court. We arrive at a different conclusion with respect to the plaintiff’s tortious interference with her right of inheritance claim because the Probate Court actually and necessarily determined that the defendants had not tortiously interfered with the execution, alteration, or revocation of the will admitted to probate, and the plaintiff therefore is collaterally estopped from relitigating that claim. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court in part and remand the case for further proceedings on the plaintiff’s tortious interference with contractual relations claim.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5289

AC45238 - Murphy v. Clinton (Municipal defective highway statute (§ 13a-149); subject matter jurisdiction; "The plaintiff, Catherine Murphy, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant, the town of Clinton, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiff's complaint on the basis that she failed to comply with the requirements of the notice provision of the municipal defective highway statute, General Statutes § 13a-149. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly granted the defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the written notice and the accompanying photographs that she sent to the defendant sufficiently described the cause of her injury in compliance with the requirements of § 13a-149. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5275

AC45085 - Tunick v. Tunick ("The plaintiff, Stephen M. Tunick, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant Barbara Tunick. On appeal, the plaintiff contends that the court improperly granted the defendant's (1) motion to strike and (2) motion for summary judgment. We agree with the first claim and disagree with the second claim. Accordingly, we reverse in part and affirm in part the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5263

AC44977 - Idlibi v. Hartford Courant Co. ("The self-represented plaintiff, Ammar Idlibi, a pediatric dentist, appeals from the summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendant, Hartford Courant Company, on his claims of defamation and intentional misrepresentation. This appeal arises from two articles the defendant published reporting on the plaintiff's disciplinary proceedings before the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Connecticut State Dental Commission (commission). On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erroneously (1) concluded that the fair report privilege applied to the allegedly defamatory statements made by the defendant, and (2) rendered summary judgment on the plaintiff's intentional misrepresentation claim. We disagree and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC45039 - Westry v. Litchfield Visitation Center ("The self-represented plaintiff, Eric Westry, appeals from the trial court's judgment granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant, Litchfield Visitation Center. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in (1) setting aside a default that had been entered against the defendant and (2) granting the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to commence the action within the ninety day time limitation set forth in General Statutes § 46a-101 (e).We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5241

SC20505 - Adams v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. ("This appeal requires us to revisit the requirements for a forum to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation in the wake of the United States Supreme Court's recent decisions considering this issue in the context of product liability actions. More particularly, we consider whether the corporation's contacts with the forum can sufficiently "relate to" such a cause of action, such that the forum's exercise of specific personal jurisdiction would be consonant with due process, in the absence of any activity or occurrence in the forum concerning either the specific product or product model that allegedly malfunctioned. The plaintiffs, John S. Adams and Mary Lou Hanney, coadministrators of the estate of Ryan Michael Adams, appeal from the trial court's judgment in favor of the named defendant, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., rendered after the granting of the defendant's motion to dismiss the product liability claim brought against it. The plaintiffs contend that the trial court improperly failed to recognize that, as long as the plaintiffs' cause of action is not materially different from an action that might have directly resulted from a person's use of the defendant's product in Connecticut, exercising personal jurisdiction over the defendant would satisfy both Connecticut's applicable long arm statute and due process. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5233

AC44902 - Speer v. U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. ("The self-represented plaintiff, Sheri Speer, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. (U.S. Bank). The plaintiff claims on appeal that the trial court (1) erred in granting U.S. Bank's motion to strike dated February 26, 2021, because the motion to strike (a) "did not comply with Practice Book § 10-41" and (b) was not directed to the operative complaint and (2) erred in granting U.S. Bank's motion for judgment dated September 21, 2021, because it was filed while an automatic appellate stay was in effect. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5232

AC44491 - Parnoff v. Stratford ("The plaintiff, Laurence V. Parnoff, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered following the granting of motions to strike filed by the defendants, the town of Stratford (town), Melinda Fonda, Berchem Moses PC (Berchem Moses), and Laura Hoydick. On appeal, the plaintiff argues that (1) his claims under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110a et seq., and his negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, all stemming from a public records request he made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (act), General Statutes § 1-200 et seq., were improperly stricken because he pleaded allegations sufficient to support those claims, and (2) the court improperly granted the motions to strike with prejudice. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5231

AC44878 - Healey v. Mantell ("This appeal arises out of an action brought by the plaintiffs, Gabrielle Ceruzzi Healey and James Ceruzzi, against the defendants Charles Mantell and David Novicki for claims originating out of the defendants' administration of the estate of Louis L. Ceruzzi, Jr. (decedent), the plaintiffs' father. The defendants were the coexecutors of the will and the cotrustees of trusts created by the will, and the plaintiffs were beneficiaries of one of these trusts.

The defendants appeal from the trial court's judgment granting their motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' action in its entirety. The defendants do not challenge the judgment of dismissal itself but, rather, they claim that, although the court properly granted their motion to dismiss, they nevertheless are aggrieved by certain additional determinations the court made that, although not necessary to the court's decision, could have a preclusive effect in a subsequent proceeding between the parties. Specifically, the defendants claim that the court improperly concluded that the plaintiffs had standing, as beneficiaries, to sue the defendants for their actions as coexecutors of the estate. We conclude that, because the court ultimately concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the entire action because counts one and three were not ripe and the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring count two, its determination regarding standing to bring counts one and three was not essential to the court's decision and is dictum. Consequently, because the determination regarding standing is dictum and cannot have a preclusive effect in subsequent proceedings between the parties, the defendants are not aggrieved. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5226

AC44749 - Gonzalez v. New Britain ("The plaintiff, Cristina Gonzalez, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendants, the city of New Britain (city) and James Davis, following the granting of the defendants' motion to strike the plaintiff's amended complaint on the basis of governmental immunity. On appeal, the plaintiff asserts that the court incorrectly concluded that her amended complaint was legally insufficient because she did not plead facts demonstrating that she was an identifiable victim for purposes of the identifiable person-imminent harm exception to governmental immunity. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5217

AC44506 - Laiuppa v. Moritz ("In this motor vehicle negligence action, the plaintiff, Paul Laiuppa, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant, Mary Moritz. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court (1) improperly determined that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to the applicability of the accidental failure of suit statute, General Statutes § 52-592, and (2) abused its discretion in granting the defendant's motion to reargue. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Environmental Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5218

AC44833 - 10 Marietta Street, LLC v. Melnick Properties, LLC ("The plaintiff, 10 Marietta Street, LLC, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Melnick Properties, LLC, Kenneth Maratea, Ellen Maratea, and Kathleen Bednarcik. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly determined that no genuine issue of material fact existed and the defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all thirty counts of the plaintiff's operative complaint, which seeks to hold the defendants responsible for environmental contamination of the plaintiff's property.We agree with the plaintiff that genuine issues of material fact exist regarding whether one or more of the defendants are legally responsible for the alleged contamination of the plaintiff's land and its groundwaters. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5208

AC42742 - Randolph v. Mambrino (Petition for new trial; summary judgment; "The self-represented petitioner, Gordon Randolph, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the respondents, Donna Mambrino and the state of Connecticut, and its subsequent dismissal of his petition for a new trial. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the trial court incorrectly concluded that General Statutes § 52-595, which provides for the tolling of the statute of limitations applicable to a particular cause of action upon proof by the party bringing the action that the defendant fraudulently concealed the existence of the cause of action, does not toll the three year limitation period of General Statutes § 52-582 applicable to petitions for a new trial brought under General Statutes § 52-270. We agree with the petitioner that the trial court incorrectly determined that § 52-595 does not apply to § 52-582. We also conclude, however, that the respondents are entitled to summary judgment because the petitioner, who alleges that the respondents intentionally concealed exculpatory evidence from him in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963), has failed to demonstrate that the facts, viewed most favorably to sustaining his claim under § 52-595, are sufficient to satisfy the stringent requirements of that tolling provision. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5200

AC44393 - DAB Three, LLC v. Fitzpatrick

AC44393 - Fischer v. Lawyers Title Corp. ("The plaintiff Alan Fischer appeals from the summary judgments rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation (LTIC) and Sandra Fitzpatrick on the plaintiff's complaints filed in two actions. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court incorrectly determined that both of his complaints were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgments of the court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5178

AC44555 - Doe v. Bemer ("The plaintiffs John Doe and Bob Doe, who had brought an action against the defendant Bruce Bemer that had been withdrawn in accordance with settlement agreements of the parties, appeal from the judgment of the trial court denying their motion for an order restoring the action to the docket (motion to restore) and from the court's denials of their motion for reargument and reconsideration and amended motion for reargument and reconsideration. The plaintiffs also filed an amended appeal challenging the court's failure to adjudicate and marking off their motion to enforce the settlement agreements, its denial of their motion for reconsideration relating to the disposition of their motion to enforce the settlement agreements, and the denial of their motion to terminate an appellate stay. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that (1) the denial of their motion to restore constituted harmful error, (2) the denial of their motion to reconsider the denial of their motion to restore was clearly erroneous, (3) the hearing on their motion to restore was inadequate and the court improperly failed to hold a hearing "with testimony from witnesses regarding the enforceability of the agreements" in accordance with Audubon Parking Associates Ltd. Partnership v. Barclay & Stubbs, Inc., 225 Conn. 804, 626 A.2d 729 (1993) (Audubon), (4) the court did not have the authority to refuse to rule on the plaintiffs' motion to enforce the settlement agreements, and (5) the court improperly refused to grant their motion to terminate an appellate stay and to order enforcement of the settlement agreements. We disagree with the plaintiffs and affirm the judgment of the court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5172

AC44524 - Adams v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. (Negligent entrustment; summary judgment; "The plaintiffs, John S. Adams and Mary Lou Hanney, brought the underlying action as coadministrators of the estate of their son, Ryan Michael Adams, who was eighteen years old when he died on September 20, 2015, in the airplane crash that also claimed the life of the eighteen year old, newly licensed pilot of the airplane, Cathryn Depuy. The plaintiffs now appeal from the summary judgment rendered against them on the two counts of their complaint brought against the defendant James W. Depuy, the father of the deceased pilot, which sounded in negligence and negligent entrustment.

The plaintiffs claim on appeal that the trial court improperly rendered summary judgment with respect to the negligent entrustment count. In particular, they claim that genuine issues of material fact remain in dispute regarding the defendant's rental of the Cessna 150H airplane that his daughter was piloting when it crashed, which, the plaintiffs contend, if proven, would demonstrate that he had the requisite control over the airplane to establish that he negligently entrusted the airplane to his daughter. We conclude that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on the negligent entrustment count because the undisputed facts demonstrate that, assuming he rented the airplane for his daughter's use, he nevertheless lacked the necessary control over the airplane to meet an essential element of a cause of action sounding in negligent entrustment. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court.")


Tort Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5159

SC20543, SC20544 - Clinton v. Aspinwall (Action to recover damages for breach of contract and fiduciary duty; "When a court renders judgment in a multicount civil action with fewer than all counts of a plaintiff’s complaint accounted for in that judgment, jurisdictional alarm bells should ring if any party files an appeal, alerting the parties and the trial court to a potential final judgment problem. Before the parties and the appellate courts expend resources resolving the appeal, it is important to examine the rules of practice, statutes and our case law to determine whether an appeal can be taken from that judgment. See General Statutes §§ 51-197a and 52-263; Practice Book §§ 61-2 through 61-5. In Meribear Productions, Inc. v. Frank, 328 Conn. 709, 183 A.3d 1164 (2018), we held in the context of a court trial that, when legally consistent theories of recovery have been litigated but not all theories have been ruled on, there is no final judgment. The present appeals require us to determine whether the same threshold jurisdictional rule applies in the context of civil jury trials. We hold that it does and are therefore compelled to vacate the judgment of the Appellate Court and to remand this case to that court with direction to dismiss the appeals for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5153

AC44100 - Ocasio v. Verdura Construction, LLC (The plaintiff, Luis Ocasio, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered after a jury verdict in favor of the defendant Verdura Construction, LLC. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) the court erred when it instructed the jury and provided it with interrogatories to answer regarding the ongoing storm doctrine and (2) such error was harmful because it likely confused and misled the jury as to the relevant law. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")