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Appellate Court Notes: Weeks of June 27 & July 4, 2016

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. I may from time to time add commentary, and may even criticize a decision’s reasoning. Such commentary is solely my own personal opinion. Pullman & Comley’s Appellate Practice Group of which I am a member includes experienced appellate advocates in almost every area of the law.  Should you have a need to consult about a potential appeal, please email me at I hope the reader finds these summaries helpful. – Edward P. McCreery

Posted July 11, 2016

Appellate Court Advance Release Opinions

The Audubon procedure for a court to summarily enforce a settlement between the parties of pending litigation does not extend to private agreements the parties entered into when the dispute first arose, but long before litigation was started. This is true even though the settlement between the parties was intended to head off at the pass the possibility of that same litigation. The Audubon rule only applies to settlements in the midst of a pending case.

The Trial Court properly enforced Family PB rule 25-34 and dismissed the ex-wife’s motion to modify alimony. After filing the motion, her attorneys spent more than a year seeking financial discovery from the ex-husband, then another year fighting over the ex-husband’s objections; then another year starting discovery again, and yet another year doing basically nothing. The rule is that a (family court) motion may not be reclaimed more than three months after its filing or it is deemed abandoned unless the parties sought and obtained a scheduling order from the court addressed to the motion when it first came up.

  • AC37721 - Amica Mutual Ins. Co. v. Muldowney

Previously the Supreme Court has held that a landlord’s insurer may not maintain an action for subrogation against one tenant in a multi-tenant commercial property whose negligence was responsible for damage to the entire building unless the lease provisions put the tenant on notice that “conventional” subrogation was an option. In this case the Appellate Court held that this should be considered the “default rule,” but where, as here, the lease specifically provided; [1] that the tenant was responsible for the proper use of the heating system; [2] the tenant would not leave the house unattended without keeping the heat on; [3] the tenant would procure property damage insurance naming the landlord as an additional insured; and [4] the tenant would pay for all damages resulting from non-compliance with any lease provision.  If the claim was that the tenant left the premises for an extended period of time during the winter and the furnace ran out of oil causing pipes to freeze and burst, then an “equitable subrogation” claim would be allowed. The tenant was put on reasonable notice of its obligation to maintain the furnace, and that it would be liable if it didn’t do so, and it should procure insurance covering the risk to the entire building. Thus it was fair to make the tenant suffer the wrath of the landlord’s insurer who had to pay the damages from its negligence.

The Appellate Court set aside a civil injunction against stalking under 46b-16a because the statute requires a series of incidents directed specifically at the plaintiff. Here the defendant had (once) threatened to slit the throat of the plaintiff in third grade and they were now in tenth grade with no intervening threats directed at the plaintiff. The Trial Court incorrectly relied upon the school records of the defendant which evidenced multiple other incidents of misconduct during the intervening years, including bringing weapons to school, etc., but none of that conduct was directed specifically at the plaintiff. It did not matter that the plaintiff and defendant were being put together for the first time since third grade in a small class room and she was scared to death of the defendant, because his bad conduct over the intervening years was directed at others. 

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.  © 2016 Pullman & Comley, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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