Welcome to our Supreme and Appellate Court summaries. 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
AC35201, AC35270 - Henderson v. Lagoudis
The “law of the case” doctrine does not preclude a trial court from re-considering subject matter jurisdiction (standing of the plaintiff in this case), even if the plaintiff survived an earlier Motion to Dismiss. Subject Matter jurisdiction may be reconsidered in a later Summary Judgment Motion when discovery is completed and a more detailed examination of the evidence may be considered by the court. The reviews done for a Motion to Dismiss are different than those considered for a Motion for Summary Judgment.
A second issue, the trial court’s dismissal of a PJR application filed by the plaintiff as punishment for his “tampering with a witness” by sending him a pre-hearing threatening letter, did not have to be reviewed, as the case was being dismissed for lack of jurisdiction anyway.
AC34987 - Shevlin v. Civil Service Commission
A demotion from Fire Captain to Fire Lieutenant is not the same as being “laid off” from the captaincy. It is a demotion, not a lay off. There was never a “termination” from employment. This in turn was relevant to the issue of picking the right trigger date to see who was eligible to take a captain promotional exam under the Civil Service rules.
AC34601 - R.S. Silver Enterprises, Inc. v. Pascarella
Plaintiff sued claiming defendant failed to share a commercial building’s profits as required by their agreement. The Trial Court said it was adopting plaintiff’s Motion to Strike brief arguments and struck the defendant’s 21st special defense which asserted that the plaintiff had assigned away its contract rights before initiating the lawsuit. On appeal from a $2.5 million judgment for the plaintiff, the Appellate Court held that since this defense implicated standing, and thus subject matter jurisdiction, the Trial Court should have conducted an evidentiary hearing on it. The case was remanded for that purpose. A valid assignment would extinguish all rights of the assignor. Since these allegations were not inconsistent with the complaint, they were properly pled as a special defense. A footnote commented that the Court disapproves of the practice of a trial court “adopting” any side’s arguments for its decision …….but need not go there ……..because the defendant “unwisely” failed to seek an articulation of the Trial Judge’s opinion …….and ……..their ability to conduct a plenary review made it unnecessary to delve into that impropriety further.
AC24729 - O’Toole v. Eyelets for Industry, Inc.
Trial court improperly dismissed complaint alleging disparate treatment in employment due to military service because the State courts have: (1) concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal courts to decide his claim brought pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq., and (2) State courts have subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate common-law claims of breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The decision concluded the act’s language was ambiguous but legislative history shows the concurrent jurisdiction was contemplated.
AC34267 - Staton v. Commissioner of Correction
AC35397 - Colon v. Autozone Northeast, Inc.
Tenant/ Defendant / AutoZone properly granted summary judgment in lawsuit by customer assaulted in the parking lot when the lease specifically provided that the demised premises did not include the parking lot which was reserved by the landlord for the common use and benefit of all tenants.
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.