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.

Contract Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Booth, George


SC20526 - Centerplan Construction Co., LLC v. Hartford (Contracts; "The case before us involves a dispute over the party responsible for delays in constructing Dunkin Donuts Park, home of Hartford's minor league baseball team, the Yard Goats, and a key part of the planned economic revitalization of Connecticut's capital city. As often occurs with such projects, the parties blame one another for the delays. The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the trial court correctly concluded, as a matter of law, that the plaintiffs, the project's developer, DoNo Hartford, LLC (DoNo), and the project's design-builder, Centerplan Construction Company, LLC (Centerplan), "controlled" the architect and were therefore responsible for any mistakes in and changes to the stadium's design. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that, in its pretrial interpretation of various agreements the plaintiffs and the defendant, the city of Hartford (city), had executed to construct the ballpark, the trial court incorrectly concluded that the agreements plainly had assigned to the plaintiffs both the power to direct the design of the ballpark as well as the responsibility for the architect's errors and omissions. After the trial court's ruling, a jury found the plaintiffs responsible for failing to complete the stadium by the contractually agreed on deadline, returned a verdict against the plaintiffs on their claim against the city, and awarded the city $335,000 in liquidated damages on its counterclaim.

Upon our careful review of the contracts at issue, we conclude that, contrary to the trial court's pretrial ruling, the parties' contracts did not unambiguously grant the plaintiffs legal control of the architect and the stadium's design across all relevant time periods. Because the trial court's pretrial ruling improperly took several questions of fact from the jury's consideration, we must reverse the judgment and remand the case for a new trial.")