The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

New Office of Legislative Research Reports

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4129

The Office of Legislative Research has published the following reports:

Claims Against the State - 2020-R-0193 - Summarize the process for filing a claim against the state with the Office of the Claims Commissioner. This report updates OLR Report 2017-R-0298 to reflect changes in PA 19-182.

OLR Backgrounder: Regional Boards of Education - 2020-R-0211 - Does state law establish requirements for member town representation and voting power on regional boards of education? What processes must regional boards follow when making school construction and school closure decisions?

COVID-19 Executive Orders Authorizing Remote Notarization - 2020-R-0196 - Summarize the governor's COVID-19 executive orders temporarily authorizing remote notarization.

Locating a Polling Place Outside of a Voting District's Boundaries - 2020-R-0216 - Discuss the circumstances under which a municipality may locate a polling place outside of a voting district’s boundaries.


Landlord/Tenant Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4127

AC41920 - Josephine Towers, L.P. v. Kelly (Summary process; motion to open judgment; motion to dismiss; claim that plaintiffs served insufficient notice to quit; "In this summary process action, the defendant, Diana Kelly, appeals from the decisions of the trial court denying her motions to open the judgment and to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. She contends that the court lacked jurisdiction and, thus, improperly denied her motions, because the plaintiffs, Josephine Towers L.P., and SHP Management Corporation, served an insufficient notice to quit. She argues that the notice to quit was insufficient to confer jurisdiction because (1) although a pretermination notice previously had been served, the notice to quit alleged new violations that had not been included in the prior pretermination notice, and (2) the notice to quit did not adequately allege a serious nuisance. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Declaratory Judgment Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4128

AC43008 - Jeweler v. Wilton (Declaratory judgment; "This case concerns the reconfiguration of lot lines in an existing resubdivision. The plaintiffs, Richard S. Jeweler and Derry Music Company, own seven parcels of land situated between Millstone Road and Hickory Hill Road in Wilton. They brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that certain boundary line adjustments among those parcels do not require subdivision approval under General Statutes § 8-18. The trial court concluded that the boundary line adjustments proposed by the plaintiffs did not constitute a subdivision pursuant to § 8-18, but did constitute a resubdivision thereunder. We disagree with the latter conclusion and, accordingly, reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.")


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4125

AC42438 - Parisi v. Niblett (Child custody; motion to modify; "The plaintiff, Jason S. Parisi, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his motion for modification of Florida child custody orders on jurisdictional grounds. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) failed to conclude that it had subject matter jurisdiction to modify the Florida judgment pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-56 (a), and (2) deferred to the Florida court and determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction regarding the plaintiff's motion for modification without first conducting an evidentiary hearing. We do not agree with the plaintiff's first claim, but agree with his second claim. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Foreclosure Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4124

AC41607 - Castle v. DiMugno (Action to recover on promissory note; foreclosure; standing; subject matter jurisdiction; "This appeal arises out of the plaintiff's action to collect on a promissory note (note) executed by the defendant, Katherine DiMugno, and to foreclose on the mortgage securing the defendant's obligations under the note. The plaintiff, AnnMarie Castle, as trustee for the Mary DiMugno Irrevocable Trust (trust), appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant following its granting of the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff's complaint. The plaintiff claims that the court (1) misinterpreted the defendant's payment obligations under the note, (2) improperly considered parol evidence regarding the meaning of certain language in the note, and (3) incorrectly concluded that there are no genuine issues of material fact regarding the defendant's alleged default under the note. In response, in addition to defending the analysis of the trial court, the defendant reasserts her claim that the plaintiff lacks standing to enforce the note and to foreclose on the corresponding mortgage, and that the court, therefore, should have dismissed the action. We agree with the defendant that the plaintiff lacks standing, and, therefore, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case to the trial court with direction to render a judgment of dismissal.")


Criminal Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4126

AC42080 - State v. Errol J. (Risk of injury to child; cruelty to persons; "The defendant, Errol J., appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of two counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (1) and one count of cruelty to persons in violation of General Statutes § 53-20 (b) (1). The defendant challenges several of the trial court's evidentiary rulings and jury instructions and raises claims of prosecutorial impropriety. Specifically, he claims that (1) the court erred by restricting his cross-examination of the state's expert witnesses, which violated his constitutional rights to confrontation and to present a defense, (2) the court erred in admitting into evidence certain medical records and testimony, (3) the prosecutor advanced several improper arguments during her closing arguments, violating the defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial, and (4) the court erred in failing to give the parental justification instruction on one of the counts of risk of injury to a child. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Criminal Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4123

SC20145 - State v. Liebenguth (Criminal; Free Speech; "Under General Statutes § 53a-181 (a) (5), a person is guilty of breach of the peace in the second degree when, with the intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, he uses abusive language in a public place. That broad statutory proscription, however, is limited by the free speech provisions of the first amendment to the United States constitution, which prohibit the government from "restrict[ing] expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content"; (internal quotation marks omitted) Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U.S. 564, 573, 122 S. Ct. 1700, 152 L. Ed. 2d 771 (2002); thereby protecting speech "without regard . . . to the truth, popularity, or social utility of the ideas and beliefs [that] are offered." National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 445, 83 S. Ct. 328, 9 L. Ed. 2d 405 (1963). These safeguards, however, although expansive, are not absolute, and the United States Supreme Court has long recognized a few discrete categories of speech that may be prosecuted and punished, including so-called "fighting words"—"those personally abusive epithets [that], when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction." Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 20, 91 S. Ct. 1780, 29 L. Ed. 2d 284 (1971). In this certified appeal, we must determine whether certain vulgar and racially charged remarks of the defendant, David G. Liebenguth, which included multiple utterances of the words "fucking niggers" directed at an African-American parking enforcement official during a hostile confrontation with that official following the defendant's receipt of a parking ticket, were "fighting words" subject to criminal sanctions. As a result of his conduct, the defendant was arrested and charged with breach of the peace in the second degree in violation of § 53a-181 (a) (5) and, following a trial to the court, was found guilty. On appeal to the Appellate Court, the defendant claimed, inter alia, that the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court's finding of guilty because the words he uttered to the parking official constituted protected speech that could not, consistent with the first amendment, provide the basis of a criminal conviction. See State v. Liebenguth, 181 Conn. App. 37, 47, 186 A.3d 39 (2018). Although acknowledging that the defendant's language was "extremely vulgar and offensive" and "meant to personally demean" the official; id., 53; the Appellate Court, with one judge dissenting, agreed with the defendant that his speech was constitutionally protected and that, consequently, his conviction, because it was predicated on that speech, could not stand. See id., 54; see also id., 58 (Devlin, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). We granted the state's petition for certification to appeal, limited to the question of whether the Appellate Court correctly concluded that the defendant's conviction must be reversed because the first amendment barred his prosecution for the verbal statements at issue. See State v. Liebenguth, 330 Conn. 901, 189 A.3d 1231 (2018). We now conclude that the defendant's remarks were unprotected fighting words and, therefore, that his conviction does not run afoul of the first amendment. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court in part and remand the case to that court with direction to affirm the trial court's judgment with respect to his conviction of breach of the peace in the second degree.")


Connecticut Law Journal - August 25, 2020

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4122

The Connecticut Law Journal, Volume LXXXII, No. 8, for August 25, 2020 is now available.

Contained in the issue is the following:

  • Table of Contents
  • Volume 199: Connecticut Appellate Reports (Pages 663 - 734)
  • Volume 199: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Appellate Reports
  • Notices of Connecticut State Agencies


Workers' Compensation Law Supreme Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4121

SC20350 - Vitti v. Milford (Workers' Compensation; "This appeal presents a question of first impression in our workers' compensation law, namely, whether a claimant who undergoes a heart transplant is entitled to a specific indemnity award for permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act (act), specifically, General Statutes § 31-308 (b), for the total loss of the claimant's native heart, or whether the award should instead be based on the rated function of the claimant's new, transplanted heart. The plaintiff . . . who had been employed as a police officer by the named defendant, the city of Milford (city), appeals from the decision of the Compensation Review Board (board) affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commissioner for the Fourth District (commissioner), who awarded him permanent partial disability benefits of 23 percent based on the function of his transplanted heart. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that § 31-308 (b) mandates compensation for the 100 percent loss of his native heart because his transplanted heart is akin to a prosthetic device and, therefore, not considered in any function rating for purposes of awarding permanent partial disability benefits. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the decision of the board.")

SC20373 - Feliciano v. State (Sovereign Immunity; Workers' Compensation; "The plaintiff . . . a state employee, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the named defendant, the state of Connecticut (state). We must resolve whether the state's waiver of sovereign immunity in General Statutes § 52-556 for claims arising from a state employee's negligent operation of a state owned and insured motor vehicle extends to litigants who are state employees. The state claims that it does not. We conclude that it does.

The state contends that the judgment of the trial court nevertheless may be affirmed on the alternative ground that, even if § 52-556 applies to state employees, the plaintiff's action is barred by the workers' compensation exclusivity provision in General Statutes § 31-284 (a). More specifically, the state argues that the waiver of sovereign immunity pursuant to § 52-556 does not preclude it from raising its defense to liability under § 31-284 (a). We agree. Because we also conclude that the state is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, we reverse the judgment of dismissal and remand this case to the trial court with direction to render judgment in favor of the state.")


Contract Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4119

AC42047 - Falcigno v. Falcigno (Breach of fiduciary duty; "Following a trial to the court, the plaintiff, David Falcigno, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant, Stephen Falcigno, on his cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty. The defendant cross appeals from the judgment of the court, rendered in favor of the plaintiff, on the defendant's counterclaim for breach of the representations and warranties contained in an agreement signed by the plaintiff. In his appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred in finding that the defendant proved, by clear and convincing evidence, fair dealing and full disclosure as to the defendant's purchase of the plaintiff's minority shares of stock. In his cross appeal, the defendant claims that the court improperly failed to award him attorney's fees pursuant to the agreement that the plaintiff signed as part of the stock transaction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court")

AC41283 - Demattio v. Plunkett (Breach of contract; violation of Home Improvement Act (§ 20-418 et seq.); judicial bias; "The self-represented plaintiff contractor, Arthur M. DeMattio, appeals from the judgment of the trial court, rendered following a bench trial, in favor of the defendant homeowners, Robert Plunkett and Karen Plunkett, on the plaintiff's complaint and the defendants' counterclaim in the amount of $21,720.34. On appeal, the plaintiff's claims distill to whether the trial court erred by (1) concluding that the home improvement contract entered into among the parties (contract) was invalid and unenforceable against the defendants as a result of the contract's noncompliance with the Home Improvement Act (HIA), General Statutes § 20-418 et seq., (2) making numerous factual findings contrary to the evidence presented at trial, (3) failing to determine that the defendants did not mitigate their damages, (4) improperly calculating its damages award, and (5) acting in a biased manner toward the plaintiff. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Tort Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4120

AC42987 - Augustine v. CNAPS, LLC (Negligence; premises liability; "In this negligence action sounding in premises liability, the plaintiff, Sandra Augustine, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant, CNAPS, LLC. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that there was no evidence that the alleged premises defect was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's fall. We conclude that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to show the existence of a genuine issue of material fact on the question of causation. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Foreclosure Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4118

SC20090 - JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Assn. v. Essaghof (Foreclosure; "In this certified appeal, we must decide whether a trial court may order a mortgagor to reimburse a mortgagee for the mortgagee's ongoing advancements of property taxes and insurance premiums during the pendency of an appeal from a judgment of strict foreclosure. The defendants Roger Essaghof and Katherine Marr-Essaghof appeal from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's order requiring that the defendants reimburse the plaintiff, JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, for property tax and insurance premium payments advanced by the plaintiff during the pendency of this appeal. The defendants' principal claim is that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that the trial court's order was a valid exercise of its equitable authority. We conclude that the trial court abused its discretion because the relief it ordered is inconsistent with the remedial scheme available to a mortgagee in a strict foreclosure. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court insofar as it affirmed the trial court's order directing the defendants to reimburse the plaintiff for property taxes and insurance premiums. We affirm the Appellate Court's judgment in all other respects.")


Connecticut Law Journal - August 18, 2020

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4117

The Connecticut Law Journal, Volume LXXXII, No. 7, for August 18, 2020 is now available.

Contained in the issue is the following:

  • Table of Contents
  • Volume 199 Conn. App. Replacement Pages 187 - 188
  • Volume 199: Connecticut Appellate Reports (Pages 532 - 663)
  • Volume 199: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Appellate Reports
  • Notices of Connecticut State Agencies


Environmental Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4112

AC42069 - Crouzet v. First Baptist Church of Stonington (Environmental contamination; real property; "The plaintiff, David Crouzet, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendants, First Baptist Church of Stonington and Second Congregational Church of Stonington, following a trial to the court in a factually complex case involving environmental contamination. The question underlying all of the plaintiff's claims on appeal is what was the cause of the oil contamination in and around the plaintiff's residence and, in particular, to what extent fuel oil that leaked from the underground storage tank on the defendants' property migrated onto the plaintiff's property and infiltrated the plaintiff's basement. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court's finding of a secondary source of contamination in his basement is clearly erroneous and that the court's decision is based on speculation and is legally unsound. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Declaratory Judgment Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4114

AC41417 - Prime Locations of CT, LLC v. Rocky Hill Development, LLC (Declaratory judgment; "This case was brought by the plaintiffs, Prime Locations of CT, LLC, Hasson Holdings, LLC, SMS Realty, LLC, and C&G Holdings, LLC, to prevent one of the defendants, Luke DiMaria, from constructing a crematorium on a lot in the Coles Brook Commerce Park in Cromwell. The plaintiffs appeal from the judgment of the trial court, rendered after a court trial, in favor of the defendants MPM Enterprises, LLC, (MPM Enterprises) and DiMaria. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the court (1) improperly concluded that the Declaration of Easements, Covenants and Restrictions (declaration), which created a common interest community, the Coles Brook Commerce Park Owners Association, LLC (association), to govern the use of the property in the business park, did not prevent the defendants from voting to withdraw from the association a lot formerly owned by MPM Enterprises and currently owned by DiMaria, (2) improperly concluded that the defendants were entitled to connect a lot to the association's drainage system, (3) improperly concluded that the plaintiffs' cause of action was barred by the doctrines of laches and equitable estoppel, and (4) erred in declining to grant the plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction prohibiting DiMaria from constructing a crematorium on his lot without approval from the association. We disagree with the plaintiffs and affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Habeas Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4113

AC42302 - Boyd v. Commissioner of Correction (Habeas corpus; motion to dismiss; "The petitioner, Ray Boyd, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which challenged the failure of the respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, to advance the petitioner's parole eligibility date by applying statutory good time credit he has earned. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the court improperly dismissed his petition. We disagree 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=4115

AC42155 - 25 Grant Street, LLC v. Bridgeport (Negligence; recklessness; statutory governmental immunity (§ 52-557n (b) (8)); "This appeal arises from an action brought by the plaintiff, 25 Grant Street, LLC, against the defendant city of Bridgeport (city), following the destruction of the plaintiff's warehouse by a fire that caused substantial environmental damage to the surrounding area. The plaintiff ultimately alleged that the city was liable for the damage because it had failed to inspect the warehouse prior to the fire, which constituted a reckless disregard for health and safety. The plaintiff appeals from the trial court's summary judgment rendered in favor of the city on the ground that it is entitled to governmental immunity pursuant to General Statutes § 52-557n (b) (8). We affirm the judgment of the trial court on the alternative grounds that are discussed herein.")


Workers' Compensation Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4111

SC20196 - Barker v. All Roofs by Dominic ("The sole issue in this certified appeal is whether, under the Workers' Compensation Act, General Statutes § 31-291, a municipality is the "principal employer" of an employee of an uninsured roofing subcontractor injured while repairing a municipal building. The defendants city of Bridgeport (city) and PMA Insurance Company contend that the city is not a principal employer under the statute because it is not in the "trade or business" of roof repair. The Second Injury Fund (fund) responds that the city is in the "trade or business" of maintaining and repairing municipal buildings and facilities, and, therefore, the Appellate Court properly affirmed the judgment of the Compensation Review Board (board), which found that the city was liable for the payment of the workers' compensation benefits of the plaintiff, Christopher Barker, as his principal employer. We agree with the fund and affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Connecticut Law Journal - August 11, 2020

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4110

The Connecticut Law Journal, Volume LXXXII, No. 6, for August 11, 2020 is now available.

Contained in the issue is the following:

  • Table of Contents
  • Volume 335: Orders (Pages 932 - 938)
  • Volume 335: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Reports
  • Volume 199: Connecticut Appellate Reports (Pages 485 - 531)
  • Volume 199: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Appellate Reports
  • Miscellaneous Notices


Juvenile Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4109

SC20465 - In re Ava W. (Termination of Parental Rights; Posttermination Visitation; "In this certified appeal, we must decide whether a trial court has the legal authority to order posttermination visitation between a parent and the parent's minor child at the time the court considers termination of parental rights pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j). The respondent, Kiarah P., challenges the trial court's determination that it lacked authority to order visitation between her and her minor daughter, Ava W., upon ordering termination of the respondent's parental rights. The respondent claims that the trial court should have considered her request for posttermination visitation under its broad authority to enter "any order," pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-121 (b) (1), so long as the order serves the best interest of the child.

In response, the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, makes three arguments: (1) the respondent lacks standing to challenge the trial court's order regarding visitation because the court terminated her parental rights; (2) the trial court correctly determined that, as a matter of law, it lacked the authority to issue an order for posttermination contact; and (3) even if the trial court had the authority to order posttermination visitation, it correctly determined that posttermination visitation would not be in the child's best interest.

We agree with the respondent that the jurisdictional hurdles of aggrievement and mootness have been satisfied and do not defeat this court's subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate this appeal. We also agree with the respondent that a trial court has authority to issue a posttermination visitation order that is requested within the context of a termination proceeding, so long as it is necessary or appropriate to secure the welfare, protection, proper care and suitable support of the child. That authority derives from the court's broad common-law authority over juvenile matters and the legislature's enactment of § 46b-121 (b) (1) codifying that authority. The trial court in the present case incorrectly determined that it lacked authority to consider a posttermination visitation order on the basis of the respondent's failure to satisfy the statutory requirements of § 17a-112 (b) through (h). Section 17a-112 (b) governs "cooperative postadoption agreement[s]" under which parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights and intended adoptive parents willingly enter into a postadoption contact agreement. The present case does not fall within that category of circumstances, and the respondent's failure to satisfy those requirements did not deprive the trial court of authority to consider posttermination visitation pursuant to its broad authority under § 46b-121 (b) (1). Therefore, the trial court incorrectly determined that it lacked authority to evaluate whether posttermination visitation would be necessary or appropriate to secure the welfare, protection, proper care and suitable support of the child. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's order denying request of the minor child and the respondent mother for posttermination visitation with the respondent and remand the case with direction to consider the request consistent with the standard we now establish. Specifically, trial courts have authority pursuant to § 46b-121 (b) (1) to consider motions for posttermination visitation within the context of a termination proceeding and can order such visitation if necessary or appropriate to secure the welfare, protection, proper care and suitable support of the child.")


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