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Civil Procedure Supreme Court Opinion

by Oumano, Emily


SC20746 - In re Cole (“In 1993, the legislature, for the first time, enacted a so-called ‘homestead act,’ whereby a debtor could protect up to $75,000 of the value of a primary residence from attachment in postjudgment proceedings or bankruptcy. See Public Acts 1993, No. 93-301, § 2 (P.A. 93-301). Although P.A. 93-301 had an effective date of October 1, 1993, and thus applied to any proceedings initiated on or after that date, the act included a special carve-out: the homestead exemption could not be claimed for debts accrued prior to the effective date. See P.A. 93-301, § 3. In 2021, the legislature amended the homestead act and replaced it with a new version that included several changes from the prior version of the act. For purposes of this appeal, the relevant change made by the legislature was to increase the exemption from $75,000 to $250,000, but this time the legislature did not include any carve-out for preexisting debts. See Public Acts 2021, No. 21-161, § 1 (P.A. 21-161). The primary question presented by this appeal, which reaches us in the form of a certified question in a bankruptcy appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, is whether we should nevertheless read a carve-out into the 2021 public act. We decline to do so.”

“The District Court therefore certified to this court the question of ‘[w]hether [P.A.] 21-161 applies retroactively to debts incurred by the debtor before [P.A.] 21- 161 took effect or prospectively.’ We accepted certification but, pursuant to General Statutes § 51-199b (k), and for the reasons discussed in part II B 3 of this opinion, we will answer a slightly modified version of the certified question: does the expanded homestead exemption contained in P.A. 21-161, § 1, apply in bankruptcy proceedings filed on or after the effective date of the act to debts that accrued prior to that date? We answer that question in the affirmative.”