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Recent Opinions

Landlord/Tenant Law Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5955

SC20927 - Centrix Management Co., LLC v. Fosberg ("When a consumer contract or lease includes a unilateral attorney's fees provision benefitting the commercial party, a consumer who successfully prosecutes or defends an action based on the contract is entitled as a matter of law to attorney's fees, and 'the size of the attorney's fee awarded to the consumer shall be based as far as practicable upon the terms governing the size of the fee for the commercial party.' General Statutes § 42-150bb. In this appeal, the plaintiff landlord, Centrix Management Co., LLC, challenges the trial court's award of reasonable attorney's fees in the amount of $3500, following the judgment rendered in favor of the defendant tenant, Donald W. Fosberg. The plaintiff contends that, because doing so would be 'practicable' pursuant to § 42-150bb, the court had discretion to award the defendant only up to $750, which was the maximum amount of attorney's fees that the plaintiff could have recovered pursuant to the terms of the lease agreement. The defendant responds that the plaintiff's claim rests on an overly narrow construction of two key statutory terms in § 42-150bb, 'based . . . upon' and 'practicable.' Consistent with the equitable purpose of the statute, the defendant contends, the trial court had discretion to award him reasonable attorney's fees in excess of $750. Although we conclude that trial courts have discretion to award a prevailing consumer reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to § 42-150bb when the court determines that it is not practicable to base the award upon the contractual terms governing the commercial party's recovery, in the present case, the trial court did not make this threshold determination. Accordingly, we vacate the trial court's award of attorney's fees and remand the case with direction to conduct a new hearing on the defendant's motion for attorney's fees consistent with this opinion.")


Habeas Law Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5953

SC20727 - Tatum v. Commissioner of Correction ("'[M]istaken eyewitness identification testimony is by far the leading cause of wrongful convictions.' State v. Guilbert, 306 Conn. 218, 249–50, 49 A.3d 705 (2012). Recognizing the developments in the cognitive science of eyewitness identification, this court has recently established new rules for cases in which eyewitness identification evidence is proffered. Specifically, in Guilbert, we determined that "expert testimony on eyewitness identification is admissible upon a determination by the trial court that the expert is qualified and the proffered testimony is relevant and will aid the jury." Id., 226. In doing so, we overruled earlier decisions from this court, which held that the factors affecting eyewitness identification were within the knowledge of an average juror. See id., 226, 229, 251–53. We reasoned that our prior case law was "out of step with the widespread judicial recognition that eyewitness identifications are potentially unreliable in a variety of ways unknown to the average juror. This [broad-based] judicial recognition tracks a near perfect scientific consensus. The extensive and comprehensive scientific research, as reflected in hundreds of peer reviewed studies and meta-analyses, convincingly demonstrates the fallibility of eyewitness identification testimony and pinpoints an array of variables that are most likely to lead to a mistaken identification." (Footnotes omitted.) Id., 234–36. We also noted that a trial court retains discretion to provide "focused and informative" jury instructions on the fallibility of eyewitness identification evidence. Id., 257–58. Four years later, in State v. Dickson, 322 Conn. 410, 141 A.3d 810 (2016), cert. denied, 582 U.S. 922, 137 S. Ct. 2263, 198 L. Ed. 2d 713 (2017), we further developed protections against inherently suggestive identifications. In doing so, we overruled this court's 1991 holding in this petitioner's direct appeal related to a first-time, in-court cross-racial eyewitness identification. See id., 434–36 (overruling in part State v. Tatum, 219 Conn. 721, 595 A.2d 322 (1991)). We concluded that "any [first-time] in-court identification by a witness who would have been unable to reliably identify the [petitioner] in a nonsuggestive out-of-court procedure constitutes a procedural due process violation." (Emphasis in original.) State v. Dickson, supra, 426 n.11. The sole issue in this certified appeal is whether the principles this court set forth in Guilbert and Dickson apply retroactively to the petitioner's case on collateral review. We conclude that the principles articulated in Dickson do. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Connecticut Law Journal - July 16, 2024

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5952

The Connecticut Law Journal, Volume LXXXVI, No. 3, for July 16, 2024 is now available.

Contained in the issue is the following:

  • Table of Contents
  • Volume 349: Orders (Pages 918 - 918)
  • Volume 349: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Reports
  • Volume 226: Connecticut Appellate Reports (Pages 651 - 736)
  • Volume 226: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Appellate Reports
  • Miscellaneous Notices


Landlord/Tenant Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5948

SC20787 - Chabad Lubavitch of Western & Southern New England, Inc. v. Shemtov ("This appeal requires us to determine the enforceability of an agreement to arbitrate before a Jewish rabbinical court called a 'Bais Din' to resolve a dispute between the parties concerning the possession of certain real property. The defendants Rabbi Moshe Shemtov, Chabad of Stamford, Inc., and Gan Yeladim of Stamford, Inc., appeal from the trial court's judgment granting possession of a commercial property to the plaintiff, Chabad Lubavitch of Western and Southern New England, Inc. On appeal, the defendants claim that the trial court erred in failing to enforce an arbitration agreement that the plaintiff was bound by and refused to honor. We agree and reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Contract Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5950

AC45666 - Haworth Country Club, LLC v. United Bank ("The plaintiff, Haworth Country Club, LLC, individually and derivatively on behalf of Newberry Village Holdings, LLC (NVH), appeals, following the granting of a motion to strike, from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant, United Bank, on all counts of the plaintiff's third amended complaint. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that, in ruling on the motion to strike, the court (1) did not apply the proper legal standard, (2) erred in concluding that the plaintiff was not entitled to bring a cause of action against the defendant, and that the plaintiff's status as a noncustomer of the defendant is dispositive as to preclude any allegations of liability against the defendant, (3) erred in concluding that the plaintiff's allegations that the defendant violated banking statutes and regulations regarding what a bank is required to do before opening an account for a customer are not allegations of conduct offensive to public policy under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110a et seq., and that General Statutes § 35-1 is inapplicable to the plaintiff's claims, and (4) improperly failed to address that the defendant, as of the date of service of this action, was on notice that the subject bank account had been opened under an improper and fictitious name and that the money in the account was owned by another party. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Criminal Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5949

AC46260 - State v. Jean-Baptiste ("The defendant, Oles Jean-Baptiste, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of larceny in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-124 (a) (1), assault of public safety personnel in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167c (a) (1), and interfering with an officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167a (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that his sixth amendment right to counsel was violated by the trial court's alleged inadequate response to his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Landlord/Tenant Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5947

AC46943 - 914 North Colony, LLC v. 99 West, LLC ("The plaintiff, 914 North Colony, LLC, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing its summary process action against the defendant, 99 West, LLC. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that the plaintiff had reinstated the tenancy by accepting the defendant's tendered payments after service of the notice to quit, despite the fact that the notice to quit included a use and occupancy disclaimer. We disagree with the plaintiff's characterization of the court's judgment and conclude that the court properly found that the plaintiff's actions rendered the notice to quit equivocal, thereby depriving the court of subject matter jurisdiction over the summary process action. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Land Use Law Supreme Court Slip Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5945

SC20808, SC20810, SC20811 - 131 Beach Road, LLC v. Town Plan & Zoning Commission ("These consolidated appeals challenge the judgment of the trial court reversing the decision of the defendant, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission of the Town of Fairfield (commission), on the two part application filed by the plaintiff, 131 Beach Road, LLC, to construct a forty unit, multifamily affordable housing development near Fairfield's Old Post Road Historic District (historic district). The commission denied the first part of the plaintiff's application, which sought a zone text amendment to permit multifamily affordable housing units within the residence A zone district. It approved the second part of the plaintiff's application, which sought a site plan and a certificate of zoning compliance, but imposed two conditions on its approval, one of which limited the height of the proposed building and thereby reduced the number of affordable housing units. The trial court sustained the plaintiff's zoning appeals pursuant to General Statutes § 8-30g (g), concluding in relevant part that the commission had failed (1) to consider the zone text amendment in light of the requirements of § 8-30g, and (2) to satisfy its statutory burden of establishing that the height condition was necessary to protect a substantial public interest that outweighed the need for affordable housing in Fairfield. We agree with the trial court that the commission improperly imposed a height condition on its approval of the plaintiff's site plan and certificate of zoning compliance, and improperly denied the zone text amendment insofar as it applied to the proposed development at issue in this appeal, but we disagree that the commission improperly denied the zone text amendment insofar as it applied to the entire residence A zone district.

. . . .

The judgment is reversed with respect to the trial court's determination concerning the commission's denial of a zone text amendment applicable to the residence A zone district and the case is remanded to the trial court with direction to remand to the commission and to order the commission to grant the plaintiff's application for a zone text amendment limited solely to the subject property; the judgment is affirmed in all other respects.")


Attorney Discipline Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5946

SC20751 - Epright v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. ("This case requires us to consider whether, under Practice Book § 13-4, an attorney may be sanctioned for engaging in ex parte communications with an expert witness who has been retained and disclosed by the adverse party for the purpose of providing testimony in litigation. The defendant in error, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (Liberty Mutual), appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court, which reversed the trial court's order imposing sanctions on the plaintiff in error, Brignole, Bush & Lewis, LLC (firm), the law firm representing the plaintiff, Jacqueline Epright, in the underlying underinsured motorist action brought by Epright against Liberty Mutual. The trial court imposed monetary sanctions after finding that attorneys with the firm engaged in impermissible ex parte communications with Liberty Mutual's expert witness, James Depuy, an orthopedic surgeon retained and disclosed by Liberty Mutual to provide testimony regarding damages and causation. The trial court determined that the firm's communication with Depuy was a clear violation of the rules of expert discovery set forth in § 13-4. The Appellate Court reversed the order of the trial court, concluding that § 13-4 does not clearly prohibit ex parte communication between an attorney and an opposing party's disclosed expert witness. We agree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Connecticut Law Journal - July 9, 2024

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5942

The Connecticut Law Journal, Volume LXXXVI, No. 2, for July 9, 2024 is now available.

Contained in the issue is the following:

  • Table of Contents
  • Volume 226: Connecticut Appellate Reports (Pages 547 - 651)
  • Volume 226: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Appellate Reports
  • Miscellaneous Notices
  • Notices of Connecticut State Agencies


Juvenile Law Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Greenlee, Rebecca

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5941

AC 47283 - In re Javonte B. et al. ("The respondent father, Amaris B., appeals from the judgments of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families (commissioner), terminating his parental rights with respect to his minor children, J and A. On appeal, the respondent claims that the court improperly concluded that it was in the best interests of the children to terminate his parental rights because, contrary to the determination of the court, he had an existing relationship and bond with his children. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Habeas Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Oumano, Emily

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5939

AC46421 - Best v. Commissioner of Correction (“The petitioner, Durante Best, appeals, following the grant of his petition for certification to appeal, from the judgment of the habeas court dismissing, on its own motion pursuant to Practice Book § 23-29 (1) and (2), his petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed on October 5, 2017, which challenged only the structure of his sentence on the convictions that were affirmed by this court after his first criminal trial.”

“Because there is no practical relief in the present appeal that we can afford the petitioner, we dismiss the appeal as moot.”)

AC46531 - Williams v. Commissioner of Correction (“Following the granting of his petition for certification to appeal, the petitioner, Stanley Williams, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his second amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court erred by declining to issue a capias for his former girlfriend, whom he had sought to call as a witness at his habeas trial. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the habeas court.”)


Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Oumano, Emily

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5938

AC46208 - Martinelli v. Martinelli (“In the latest chapter in this family dispute arising out of the administration of the estate of Kevin P. Martinelli (Kevin), the plaintiffs, Aubri E. Martinelli, Zachary Martinelli, and Linzy Martinelli, who are Kevin’s children, appeal from the judgment of the trial court granting the motions to dismiss filed by the defendants, Martin P. Martinelli (Martin), who is Kevin’s brother and was the first executor of Kevin’s estate, and Reid & Riege, P.C. (Reid & Riege), the law firm that represented Martin in the administration of Kevin’s estate. The court concluded that the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert their claims of breach of fiduciary duty, common-law conversion, and statutory theft against Martin and their legal malpractice claim against Reid & Riege. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that the trial court improperly (1) concluded that they lacked standing to assert their claims against the defendants, and (2) denied their request to amend their complaint. We are unpersuaded by either claim and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the trial court.”


Contract Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Oumano, Emily

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5937

AC46268 - Stoor v. Vehs (“The intervening plaintiff, Attorney Gregory P. Cohan, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered after a court trial wherein the court determined that the plaintiff, Zachary Stoor, owed Cohan $9000 for his services as the plaintiff’s attorney. Specifically, Cohan claims that the court improperly awarded him less than the amount provided for in his contingency fee agreement with the plaintiff. On cross appeal, the plaintiff claims that ‘the discharge of an attorney in a contingency fee case prior to settlement does not constitute a breach of contract under Connecticut law and the award of damages for quantum meruit under [the breach of contract count] . . . was improper.’ As to both the appeal and cross appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.”)


Family Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Greenlee, Rebecca

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5936

AC 45572 - R. G.-R. v. S. R. ("In this postjudgment dissolution matter, the plaintiff, R. G.-R., appeals from the judgments of the trial court awarding the defendant, S. R., sole legal and physical custody of their minor child. On appeal, the plaintiff challenges postjudgment orders made by the court on May 26 and October 26, 2022. As to the May 26, 2022 judgment, the plaintiff claims that the court erred by granting the defendant’s motion to modify custody and motions for contempt filed by the defendant and the guardian ad litem, and denying a motion for contempt that she filed. As to the October 26, 2022 judgment, she claims that her constitutional right to procedural due process was violated when the court modified custody without affording her notice and a hearing and that the court failed to base the modification on the best interest of the minor child or a substantial change in circumstances. We dismiss as moot the plaintiff’s appeal from the May 26, 2022 judgment, except the portions of the appeal that challenge the court’s contempt rulings, which we affirm in part and reverse in part. We also dismiss as moot the plaintiff’s appeal from the October 26, 2022 judgment.")


Landlord/Tenant Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5935

AC46250 - Edgewood Properties, LLC v. Dynamic Multimedia, LLC ("In this summary process action, the defendants, Daniel A. Martin, Dynamic Multimedia, LLC, and Badger Entertainment, LLC, appeal from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the plaintiff, Edgewood Properties, LLC. On appeal, the defendants claim that the trial court improperly (1) determined that the plaintiff was entitled to a judgment of possession of the subject property based on lapse of time, (2) denied their motion in limine to present evidence of a purported settlement agreement reached by the parties, and (3) denied their motion for summary enforcement of the purported settlement agreement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Business Law Supreme Court Opinions

   by Oumano, Emily

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5933

SC20821, SC20823 - Dur-A-Flex, Inc. v. Dy (“These appeals arise from a dispute over whether the defendants misappropriated the trade secrets of the plaintiff, Dur-A-Flex, Inc., in violation of the Connecticut Uniform Trade Secrets Act (CUTSA), General Statutes § 35-50 et seq. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered judgment for the plaintiff on certain of its claims and for several defendants on other claims.” The plaintiff appeals from the judgment in favor of the defendants Indue Sales and Services, Inc. (Indue), Christopher Krone, Engineered Coatings, Inc. (ECI), and Merrifield Paint Company, Inc. (Merrifield). The defendants Steven Lipman, Durafloor Industrial Flooring & Coating, Inc. (Durafloor), and ProRez Performance Resins and Coatings, LLC (ProRez), appeal from the judgment against them in favor of the plaintiff. In turn, the plaintiff cross appeals, challenging a number of adverse rulings. We conclude that the trial court incorrectly determined that the plaintiff was not required to prove that Lipman and, through him, Durafloor and ProRez, had knowledge of the plaintiff’s trade secrets and used that knowledge in order to establish the elements of misappropriation under General Statutes § 35-51 (b) (2) (B) (iii). The case must therefore be remanded for a new trial limited to that issue. We further conclude that the trial court applied an incorrect standard when it crafted the monetary and injunctive relief as to Lipman, Durafloor, and ProRez. If the trial court determines on remand that those defendants had knowledge of and used the plaintiff’s trade secrets, it must then apply the correct standard. Finally, we conclude that the trial court incorrectly determined that the noncompete agreement between the plaintiff and the named defendant, Samet Dy (Samet), was unenforceable because continued employment can never constitute consideration for a noncompete agreement. The judgment as to the breach of the noncompete agreement claim must herefore be reversed, and the trial court must determine on remand whether there was sufficient consideration for the noncompete agreement and, if so, whether Samet breached the agreement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all other respects.”)

SC20822 - Dur-A-Flex, Inc. v. Dy (“This appeal arises from a dispute between the plaintiff, Dur-A-Flex, Inc., a manufacturer of resinous flooring systems, and the named defendant, Samet Dy, a former employee of the plaintiff, over whether the defendant misappropriated the plaintiff’s trade secrets in violation of the Connecticut Uniform Trade Secrets Act (CUTSA), General Statutes § 35-50 et seq. The plaintiff brought this action, claiming that the defendant had breached his noncompete agreement with the plaintiff, misappropriated the plaintiff’s trade secrets in violation of CUTSA, and breached his duty of confidentiality. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the breach of the noncompete agreement and breach of the duty of confidentiality claims. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that (1) the trial court improperly rendered judgment for the defendant on the breach of the noncompete agreement claim on the ground that it was unenforceable for lack of consideration, (2) even if the noncompete agreement was invalid, it became enforceable when the defendant orally reaffirmed his promise not to compete, and (3) the trial court improperly rendered judgment for the defendant on the breach of the duty of confidentiality claim on the ground that it was preempted by CUTSA. With respect to the plaintiff’s first claim, we conclude that the trial court incorrectly determined that the noncompete agreement was unenforceable as a matter of law and that the case must be remanded for further proceedings on that issue. We reject the plaintiff’s second and third claims. We therefore reverse in part and affirm in part the judgment of the trial court.”


Connecticut Law Journal - July 2, 2024

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5932

The Connecticut Law Journal, Volume LXXXVI, No. 1, for July 2, 2024 is now available.

Contained in the issue is the following:

  • Table of Contents
  • Volume 349: Orders (Pages 917 - 917)
  • Volume 349: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Reports
  • Volume 226: Connecticut Appellate Reports (Pages 431 - 547)
  • Volume 226: Cumulative Table of Cases Connecticut Appellate Reports
  • Miscellaneous Notices
  • Notices of Connecticut State Agencies


Criminal Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Greenlee, Rebecca

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5930

AC 45883 - State v. Carlson ("The defendant, Kristopher Carlson, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of manslaughter in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-55 (a) (1). On appeal, the defendant raises multiple claims concerning the trial court’s jury instructions on consciousness of guilt. Specifically, the defendant claims that (1) the instruction diluted the state’s burden to disprove the elements of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, (2) in a self-defense case, a consciousness of guilt instruction improperly burdens the defendant to explain his conduct in violation of his constitutional right not to testify, (3) the instruction was unwarranted based on the evidence presented at trial, (4) the jury was misled by the instruction, and (5) this court should exercise its supervisory powers and adopt a rule categorically prohibiting consciousness of guilt instructions. We conclude that the court did not err by giving a consciousness of guilt instruction and decline to adopt a rule prohibiting such an instruction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Property Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=5928

AC46383 - Mulvey v. Palo ("The plaintiff, Mona S. Mulvey, trustee of the Mona S. Mulvey Trust (trust), appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendants, Stefan Palo, Ema Palo, and Bank of America, N.A., on both her adverse possession claim and the defendants' quiet title counterclaim .On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that she failed to establish (1) her claim of adverse possession with respect to all areas of the property in question and (2) the boundaries of those areas with reasonable certainty. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")