Appelate Court Notes

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Welcome to our Supreme and Appellate Court summaries page.  Here, I provide abbreviated summaries of decisions from the Connecticut appellate courts which highlight important issues and developments in Connecticut law, and provide practical practice pointers to litigants.  I have been summarizing these court decisions internally for our firm for more than 10 years, and providing relevant highlights to my municipal and insurance practice clients for almost as long.  It was suggested that a wider audience might appreciate brief summaries of recent rulings that condense often long and confusing decisions down to their basic elements.  These summaries are limited to the civil litigation decisions based on my own particular field of practice, so you will not find distillations of the many criminal and matrimonial law decisions on this page.  I may from time to time add commentary, and may even criticize a decision’s reasoning. Such commentary is solely my opinion . . . and when mistakes of trial counsel are highlighted because they triggered a particular outcome, I will try to be mindful of the adage . . . “There but for the grace of God . . ..”  I hope the reader finds these summaries helpful. – Edward P. McCreery

Posted June 10, 2014

When Mayor allegedly overpaid a departing employee as he was leaving office himself, the town sued the former employee under the action of “indebitatus assumpsit for money had & received” where it had to prove both that the Mayor had no authority to authorize the payment, but also that it was unjust for the recipient to keep it.  This was an equitable action and the equities here were deemed to be in favor of the employee who was being terminated for no-cause and did not ask for the extra money that amounted to $4,000, and paid taxes on it.  The “change in heart” by the next administration came too late.  The equitable claim for unjust enrichment failed for the same reason.  Finally, the decision held that the trial judge could use its inherent power to award the defendant his attorney fees for defending the action based upon a counterclaim that the suit was brought without merit to harm him.  [Hmmm…no more waiting to win the underlying action to bring a vexatious litigation claim?]  The refusal of the town to talk settlement, (which should not have been a factor in my opinion); the pre-suit press releases of the new Mayor that they were going after him for tens of thousands of dollars;  the basic premise in the law that money given by mistake is not automatically recoverable; and probably most importantly, the town’s loss of an identical case (through the appellate level) against another employee but failing to stop prosecuting this case……was all evidence of bad faith on the part of the town that no reasonable attorney would have maintained….justifying an award of attorney fees for the defense. [Hmmm….the decision like an incentive to turn a blind eye to sweet heart deals the way this came down.  The decision overly focused on the employee paying taxes on the extra money.  What if instead of a couple thousand, it was a lot more money per a wink of the mayor but where you could not prove actual fraud?  Seems to me looking at whether taxes were paid is not the right test. ]

  • AC35825 - Stratford v. Winterbottom

Same facts except ~ $10,000 claimed in overpayment and with a similar outcome.

The facts and holdings of any case may be redacted, paraphrased or condensed for ease of reading.  No summary can be an exact rendering of any decision, however, so interested readers are referred to the full decisions.  The docket number of each case is a hyperlink to the Connecticut Judicial Department online slip opinion.  

[View source.]

 

Topics:  Appeals, Public Employees, Unjust Enrichment

Published In: Civil Procedure Updates, Civil Remedies Updates, Labor & Employment Updates, Tax Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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