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 July 14, 2014
Second time is the charm. Defendant succeeded in getting plaintiff’s foreclosure action dismissed for lack of standing due to the inability of the witnesses to establish that the plaintiff held the note when it started the action ……but that decision did not act as a bar under Res Judicata or Collateral estoppel to prevent the plaintiff from filing a second foreclosure once it got its ducks lined up and could establish a proper chain for the loan documents.
AC34674- Marshall v. Marshall
AC35725- State v. Dickerson
AC35468- Good Earth Tree Care, Inc. v. Fairfield
Dismissal of contractor’s action challenging the award of a municipal bid to its competitor upheld due to lack of standing. Ordinarily an unsuccessful bidder lacks standing unless it can show favoritism, and merely not being awarded the contract as the lowest bidder is not enough. Here the contract award was subject to many subjective intangibles with each interviewer scoring the bidder per a chart provided to the potential bidders….and past experience was a factor …….as well as whether the bidders would charge the town for unforeseen problems. The successful bidder had more experience running the facility as it had already been doing it for five years and had agreed it would not charge for unforeseen storm problems.
AC34789- Howard v. Commissioner of Correction
AC34763- State v. Ruocco
CV116009707 - Seven Bridges v. Wilson Agency
I provide a summary of this interesting decision by Judge Povadator forwarded tome by Mr. Gersten….not so much because it is one of only a handful of decisions finding that an insurance agent can owe a fiduciary duty to its client….but more importantly ….because it also explains the little known Doctrine of Coinsurance. Under this doctrine, the insured can unwittingly be liable for more of the loss than they bargained for. The obvious example is where the insurer only agrees to insure up to 80% of value. Then the insured is responsible for the 20% remainder in the event of a total loss. But if the loss is only 20-30% or even 50%, it will be totally covered, so long as is it less than a 80% loss.
But let’s take a different scenario. If the insurer required the property to have total coverage of no less than 80%....or if an outside contract required the insured to cover the property up to 80%.....but the insured cut corners and only covered 50% of the risk, thinking, "What are the odds of a loss totally destroying more than 50% of the building, why it’s got sprinklers for goodness sake," then the insurer is not obligated to cover even 50% of the damage, but rather a lesser amount based upon a formula that equals the total dollar loss multiplied times the dollar limit of the insurance purchased divided by the dollar limit of the insurance that should have been purchased. This is called the co-insurance penalty. The court in this decision upheld a claim of breach of fiduciary duty due to the broker’s failure to explain the consequences of this doctrine to the client when here commended the client could save some money by reducing the coverage limit on a commercial property even though the owner required the insured to procure insurance at 100% of its replacement value.
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.