LANDMARK INVESTMENT GROUP, LLC v. CALCO CONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT CO. et al., SC 19287
Judicial District of New Britain
Contracts; CUTPA; Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations; Whether the Trial Court Erred in Granting the Defendants’ Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict. In January, 2005, the plaintiff, a real estate developer, entered into a contract with Chung Family Realty Partnership, LLC (Chung), for the purchase of a parcel of land in Plainville. The parties subsequently modified their contract in June, 2005, to address environmental contamination at the site and potential problems arising therefrom. The modified contract allowed the plaintiff to condition its payment and performance under the contract on Chung’s facilitation of environmental remediation efforts. The plaintiff began to market the property to potential commercial tenants in 2006, even though remediation efforts had stalled. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, however, Chung was entertaining other offers to purchase the parcel at the time, including one from the named defendant and its principal (defendants). Additional problems involving the remediation efforts caused further deterioration in the relationship between the plaintiff and Chung, prompting Chung to proceed in its negotiations with the defendants. By March, 2007, Chung had entered into a formal contract with the defendants, after purportedly terminating its contract with the plaintiff in October, 2006. The plaintiff brought an action against Chung seeking specific performance of the contract in 2009. The plaintiff prevailed in that action, and the Appellate Court affirmed the judgment awarding specific performance in 2010. During the pendency of the specific performance action, however, the parcel of land went into foreclosure because Chung had failed to keep up with the property tax payments. The named defendant’s principal formed a new company which purchased the parcel at the foreclosure sale. The plaintiff then brought this action in 2009, alleging tortious interference with contractual relations and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). While a jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on all counts, the trial court granted the defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The plaintiff appeals, claiming that, in granting the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the trial court wrongly substituted its own factual findings for the jury’s and considered issues not properly before it. The plaintiff also argues that the court erred in rendering judgment for the defendants where the evidence overwhelmingly established that the defendants engaged in tortious interference with the plaintiff’s contract rights and that the defendants’ actions constituted a violation of CUTPA.