Appellate Court Notes


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.

Posted July 17, 2014

Attorney appointed for a minor child cannot appeal the trial court’s award of only a portion of her fees w/o trial court permission.  But that same attorney has personal standing to appeal the refusal of the trial court to award her legal fees for the attorney that she had to hire to fend off attacks from one of the spouses even though she was not a “party” to the proceedings. The award of fees to her for her attorney is not authorized by statute or practice book and thus would have to be pursued under the inherent power of the trial court to award any civil litigant their attorney fees when the losing party acted wantonly, vexatiously, and in bad faith.  The matter was remanded to the trial court to apply this test in deciding whether to award fees and on remand specific clear evidence will have to be shown to establish the improper motive of the spouse in order to meet the high hurdle of this test which is high so as to not scare off litigants with legitimate complaints. [Note:  while this was a matrimonial matter, the rule applies to all civil actions.]

Domestic partner/co-plaintiff asserting a loss of consortium claim in this med malpractice action should have been allowed to plead that but for CT’s illegal ban on gay marriage she would have been the spouse of the injured plaintiff and thus entitled to loss of consortium damages. 

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. 

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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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