"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 4, 2013
By filing numerous pleadings and frivolous discovery, the defendant managed not to file an answer in this foreclosure action, and delayed it for over two years. When the plaintiff filed its fourth motion for default/plead and a motion for strict foreclosure, both appeared on the court calendar five days later. The defendant showed up in court and claimed he still had two more days under Practice Book § 17-32 to file his answer and special defenses with copy in hand, and thus the Court could not proceed with the hearing. Exasperated, the judge summarily entered a default and proceeded with the entry of a judgment of foreclosure. On appeal, it was held that under Practice Book § 17-32, while the clerk may not act on a pending motion for default within that timeframe, the trial court always has discretion to default a party who has not generally complied with the requirement to advance pleadings in an orderly fashion, especially when the trial court found that the defendant’s delays had been outrageous. Here, the defendant filed every other pleading permitted by the Practice Book except an answer, and never sought an extension of time to file one. The defendant habitually violated Practice Book § 10-8 with regard to the orderly advancement of pleadings, forcing the plaintiff to repeatedly file motions to default. He had over two years to compose a response to the complaint. The trial court also had discretion to refuse to accept a handed up answer on the day of the hearing. Practice Book § 17-32, regarding filing an answer before judgment, only applies to a clerk of the court. Practice Book § 17-33 exempts the judicial authority from complying with that Section of the Practice Book. The trial court was also justified in refusing the hand-offered answer when it was required to be e-filed. Finally, constitutional due process rights were not properly raised, so the Appellate Court refused to consider them. [The moral of the story is that while it may be slow and cumbersome, at some point, dilatory tactics will sometimes raise the sleeping giant to say “enough!”]
City and property owner settled an earlier tax foreclosure by agreeing the property would be granted a forty percent tax exemption based on its use, and that the remaining taxes and arrearage would be paid in installments over time. Several years later, the City brought a new action for back taxes, and the defendant counterclaimed the City was violating the earlier settlement agreement. Nonetheless, the defendant paid the back taxes, and the City withdrew its complaint. The counterclaim remained, and the City moved for summary judgment, asserting that the defendant could not file a counterclaim when it failed to pursue a C.G.S. 12-111 or § 12-119 tax appeal. The property owner objected, claiming those statutory remedies did not apply when it was seeking to enforce a prior court settlement. The Appellate Court held that the City was abiding by the earlier stipulated judgment which should have been submitted to the administrative tax appeal process. Therefore, granting summary judgment in favor of the City dismissing the counterclaim was appropriate.
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.Back to Top