Welcome to our Supreme and Appellate Court summaries webpage. On this page, 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 May 8, 2014
This is Connecticut’s first interpretation of the Federal Communications Decency Act (CDA). Author published several on-line articles, defamatory to the plaintiff. Blogger, then encouraged his readers to read the articles, and included a hyperlink to them. That author’s website was owned and operated by the defendant. This decision held that the Trial Court properly struck the complaint in its entirety because the defendant web operator was protected under the CDA as a provider of interactive computer services. The defamatory statements were created by another content provider, and the defendant was not the publisher of the defamatory statements. The CDA treats providers of computer services differently than traditional publishers so as to avoid impeding the development of the internet. They are effectively immunized from tort due to the dissemination of materials created by others. A motion to strike was the proper way to address the immunity afforded by the CDA, as it is analogous to using a motion to strike claims barred by governmental immunity. The defendant was not required to plead the CDA as a special defense and then move for summary judgment.
The CDA is not limited to situations where the information is directly transmitted to the service provider. The CDA immunity applies even when the website posts a hyperlink to the defamatory materials. This is because the service provider is not to be treated as a publisher. The statutory term “provided by” others is to be interpreted broadly. As such, it covers hyperlinks to third party content. The immunity may not apply for materials that were never intended to be posted on the internet, such as the dissemination of someone’s private e-mail…..but that is not the situation here.
Further, the author encouraging others to read the article and including a hyperlink, did not rise to “materially contributing” to the defamation such as to make the website a “co-developer.” There is no requirement on the part of the web site operator to preclude individuals from using multiple screen names. The author merely posted a link to the statements, it did not actively solicit disparaging comments about the plaintiff. At best, the author using the defendant’s web site amplified, endorsed, or adopted the defamatory statements. This does not matter, however, because neither the author, nor the defendant web site operator, played any role in the composition of the defamatory statements.
Husband and wife got divorced and included a hold-harmless and indemnification agreement for any liabilities contracted by the other. One month prior to the divorce, one spouse borrowed money from lenders without telling the other. The lenders brought collection efforts against the innocent spouse who turned around and sued the other spouse. The Trial Court concluded that the complaint against the defendant spouse sounded in civil fraud and thus was barred by the three-year statute of limitations in §52-577. On appeal, it was claimed that the Trial Court should have applied the longer statute of limitation for an indemnification claim. But, the Appellate Court noted an exchange between counsel where the Trial Judge kept asking….. where was there an indemnification count in the complaint, and plaintiff’s counsel never gave a straight answer…..nor made any effort to amend his complaint to conform with the trial evidence. Thus the trial court properly held the complaint sounded in fraud…..not indemnification. Merely reciting a fact about the divorce indemnification agreement does not make a Count in a complaint sound in Indemnification. A party cannot present a case to the Trial Court on one theory in a complaint and then seek appellate relief on a different one. Claims for indemnification, as well as any allegation of tolling on the statute of limitations should have been affirmatively pled, and cannot be resurrected on appeal.
Individual beneficiary cannot pursue a claim that properly belongs to a trustee.
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. ©2014 Pullman & Comley, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Back to Top