Appellate Notes: Week of February 18

by Pullman & Comley, LLC

"Welcome to our Supreme and Appellate Court summaries webpage.  On this page I will provide abbreviated summaries of newly-released decisions from the Connecticut appellate courts which highlight important changes 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.   By necessity, I may from time to time add commentary to a summary to enhance a point, and may even criticize a decision’s reasoning.  Such commentary is solely my opinion….and when mistakes of trial counsel are highlighted by me because they triggered a particular outcome, I will try to be mindful of the old adage…..There but for the grace of God…..  I hope the reader finds these summaries helpful."  - Edward P. McCreery

Posted February 18, 2013

  • AC34039 - Landmark Investment Group, LLC v. Calco Construction & Development Co.

Developer’s intense interest in a piece of property that was already under contract for sale to the plaintiff included: (i) submitting a back-up offer to buy the property contingent upon the seller getting out of his deal with the plaintiff; (ii) buying up the mortgages on the property and taking an assignment thereof; (iii) lending money to the seller to fund his (unsuccessful)  lawsuit seeking to break his contract with the plaintiff/ buyer; and (iv) successfully bidding at a foreclosure sale of the tax liens on the property and refusing to help the buyer prevent the sale, but did not rise to the level of tortious interference with contract.  There was no evidence that the developer did anything to motivate the seller to attempt to break his contract with the plaintiff.  A tortious interference claim only exists when it is established that a defendant intentionally sought to interfere with the pre-existing contractual relationship, and such interference caused damages.  The defendant’s conduct can be by way of fraud, misrepresentation, intimidation or molestation.  Ill will is not enough.  The Court added that while an unfair trade claim embraces a wider range of business conduct than most torts if it is unfair or deceptive, nothing the developer did here rose to anything other than aggressive business practices.  There was no evidence the conduct was unfair, deceptive or contrary to public policy.  It was business as usual in the development world.

The Trial Court properly granted a motion to preclude the plaintiff in this medical malpractice action from presenting an expert witness at trial, when eight months after the scheduling order deadline and one month before trial, the plaintiff had still failed to disclose an expert.  Preclusion was in accordance with Practice Book § 13-4.  A claimed oral disclosure by the plaintiff’s counsel to the defendant’s counsel five months beforehand was denied by the defendant’s counsel, even though such oral disclosure would have altered the outcome of the motion to preclude.  The Trial Court was entitled to rely upon representations of the defendant’s attorney that no such disclosure had been made.  Without an expert witness, the trial court also properly granted summary judgment to the defendant doctor.

  • AC34253 - Klemonski v. University of Connecticut Health Center

The trial court properly granted a motion to dismiss a malpractice claim against the UConn Mental Health Center by a former prisoner on the grounds of sovereign immunity.  No prior approvals for the lawsuit had been obtained from the Claims Commissioner.  It mattered not that the Claims Commissioner informed the plaintiff that it would not review his claim unless he paid a filing fee on the grounds that he had been a serial filer of numerous frivolous claims against the State. 

The factual summary, or even the legal conclusions, of any case may be summarized, redacted, paraphrased or altered at the author’s discretion for ease of reading.  Accuracy of the summary cannot be guaranteed and the viewer is referred to the actual case for an exact reading. The Docket number should be a link to the full decision.  ©2013 Pullman & Comley, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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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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