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.

Foreclosure Supreme Court Opinion

by Mazur, Catherine


SC19560, SC19561 - Burns v. Adler ("The primary issue that we must resolve in this certified appeal is whether the bad faith exception to the bar on the enforcement of home improvement contracts that do not comply with the Home Improvement Act (act), General Statutes § 20-418 et seq., entitled the plaintiff contractor, James E. Burns, Jr., to recover damages from the defendant homeowner, David Y. Adler, for home improvement services despite the plaintiff's noncompliance with that statute. The parties entered into an agreement whereby the plaintiff agreed to furnish materials and supply labor in connection with the renovation of a residence owned by the defendant in the town of Salisbury. After the renovation project was largely complete, a dispute arose regarding amounts that the defendant owed the plaintiff for services performed. Thereafter, the plaintiff brought this action claiming, among other things, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The defendant raised the special defense that the plaintiff's claims were barred because the agreement did not comply with the requirements of General Statutes (Rev. to 2007) § 20-429. In turn, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant was precluded from relying on § 20-429 because his refusal to pay the plaintiff was in bad faith. After a trial to the court, the trial court concluded that the plaintiff had incurred damages in the amount of $214,039 and that § 20-429 did not bar recovery because the defendant's refusal to pay was in bad faith. Accordingly, the court rendered judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $214,039. The defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, which affirmed the judgment of the trial court. See Burns v. Adler, 158 Conn. App. 766, 808, 120 A.3d 555 (2015). We then granted the defendant's petition for certification to appeal, limited to the following issues: (1) 'Did . . . § 20-429 (f) abrogate the bad faith exception to the [act] created in Habetz v. Condon, 224 Conn. 231, 240, 618 A.2d 501 (1992)?'; and (2) 'Did the Appellate Court properly affirm the judgment of the trial court in favor of the plaintiff?' Burns v. Adler, 319 Conn. 931, 125 A.3d 205 (2015); see also footnote 7 of this opinion. We conclude that the first certified question is not reviewable because it was not raised in the trial court. We further conclude that the defendant did not act in bad faith and, therefore, the Appellate Court improperly affirmed the judgment of the trial court on the ground that the plaintiff was barred from invoking the protection of the act. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court and conclude that the case must be remanded to the trial court with direction to render judgment for the defendant.")