Category Archives: Connecticut Superior Court Decisions

A discussion of recent Connecticut Superior Court decisions.

Analysis Of TicketNetwork v. Fay Ruling

TicketNetwork is claiming the denial of the motion to dismiss as a victory. The Bushnell was unable to be reached for comment.

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision as this is the victory for the public,” Vaccaro said in a press release. “The outcome of this case demonstrates that truth outweighs fabrication of information in the court of law.“ CT NewsJunkie

In so far as winning a motion is better than losing a motion – Vaccaro should be pleased with Judge Rittenband’s ruling not to dismiss his case against the Bushnell.

A motion to dismiss is the way a party contests the Court’s jurisdiction to hear a matter.  It is a threshold matter that has nothing to do with the merits of a case:

The motion to dismiss shall be used to assert (1) lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) lack of jurisdiction over the person, (3) improper venue, (4) insufficiency of process, and (5) insufficiency of service of process. This motion shall always be filed with a supporting memorandum of law, and where appropriate, with supporting affidavits as to facts not apparent on the record.  Conn. Prac., Super. Ct. Civ. Rules § 10-31

In my opinion,  Vaccaro’s claims that “the judge’s decision as this is the victory for the public” and “the outcome of this case demonstrates that truth outweighs fabrication of information in the court of law” make for good copy. His case merely survived the first attack by the defendant.

Given how contentious this case is – it seems likely that the parties are going to take a walk through the practice book. Look for a motion to strike to be filed (to test the legal sufficiency of the claims) and a motion for summary judgment to be filed.  It would be unusual for a case like this to be tossed out of court on a motion (though, I have no opinion on this as I have not read through all of the pleadings nor have I researched all of the relevant law) – generally the superior court errs on giving parties their day in court.

Expect this matter to go to trial or settle before that.

Neighbors In Court: Bamboo Edition

Nothing makes for good neighborly relations like a law suit!

When neighbors take each other to court it’s like an angry divorce without any incentive to be civil to each other for the sake of the kids.

Connecticut has not shortage of neighbors suing each other for one thing or another. Fence companies aren’t marketing themselves well enough.

From Wikipedia

This morning while reviewing cases, I came across a case involving every earthy yuppie’s favorite plant – bamboo. Rickel v. Komaromi, No. CV105010673 (Keegan, J.).

The plaintiff who the court notes was self-represented brought suit against her neighbors seeking money damages for bamboo encroaching on her property.  She alleged that the bamboo invaded her property.

What do you do when bamboo invades your property? Plead a count of “Encroachment by Vegetation?!?!?” That’s what the plaintiff did.

And if that was your answer –  you’d be wrong! The Court granted the Defendant’s Motion to Strike the Plaintiff’s “Encroachment by Vegetation” count finding it was not a cause of action.

The opinion does not address whether or not the plaintiff is seeking the injunctive remedy of caning as relief.

CT Law Did You Know? Groundhog Day Edition

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The movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray has been cited in a Connecticut case.

Judge Jon Blue dropped the hammer on an attorney in the case of Baden v. Dorflinger, 2004 WL 3130536.  Judge Blue was so frustrated with an attorney that his opinion began with: “The motion for summary judgment now before the court arises in a setting of staggering professional incompetence.”

Judge Blue then went through a litany of things that counsel should have done or failed to do and wrote: December 20, 2004, resembled the plot of the well-known motion picture, Groundhog Day (1993). The opinion is scathing and concludes with Judge Blue sending a copy of it to Statewide Bar Counsel.

CT Home Improvement Act Applies To Contracts With Condo Association

by Ryan McKeen

A Connecticut Superior court has held that CT’s Home Improvement Act applies to contracts with condominium associations. Bridgeport Garden Apartment, Inc. v. Villa Gesell Construction, LLC (Cocco, JTR). CT’s home improvement act is broad in scope, provides powerful protections to homeowners, and imposes significant obligations on contractors.

This case is interesting.  Most home improvement contract cases (and there are many) involve a homeowner and a contractor.  This case involved a contract with an association of 215 units for repairs to porches of ten units. The porches were limited common elements. None of the individual units were parties to the contract.

Contractors need to be aware of this when dealing with Condo associations and proceed with caution.

Connecticut Mechanic’s Liens: Notice of Work

by Ryan McKeen

I love the area of mechanic’s lien law. For real.

A Connecticut Superior Court in McGhee-Fichtner v. Kusek ruled that the placement of  a generator at the construction site was sufficient to give a mechanic’s lien priority over mortgage.

Off site preparation by a contractor is not sufficient to give sufficient notice of visible work to establish priority.

That may sound like a subtle difference but for a contractor that may be the difference between being paid in full or not paid at all.  If the lien has priority over the mortgage then the lienor is in the driver’s seat to get paid. If the situation is the mortgage precedes the lien then the contractor may be SOL.

On Judicial Nominees, Point West Hartford

by Ryan McKeen

The MDC should test the water in West Hartford for law.

Forty-eight judicial nominees since 1985 have been residents of West Hartford (not including the most recent nominees).

New Haven comes in a distant second with 24 nominees.

The town I was raised in Enfield, puts up a big fat goose egg. As does my current town of East Granby. There must not be law in my water. Enfield and East Granby aren’t alone, 58 towns have had no nominees since 1985.

Check out the OLR’s Judicial Nominees By Town Since 1985 report to see how your town stacks up.

As an aside, I’m rediscovering what an excellent source of blog topics OLR’s reports are. They answer lots of inane questions about CT Law.

Google Enters The Legal Search Engine Market

by Ryan McKeen

Huge tip of the hat to Julie Jones, Associate Director for Library Services and Adjunct Professor of Law at UConn.

Julie linked to my post on Why Android is For Attorneys.

When someone links to this site it shows up on my WordPress Dashboard. Her post made me happy for reasons other than it linked to my site. Big news. Huge news even.  A revolution of access to legal opinions is underway.

Experience it for yourself.

Google wants to inventory all of human knowledge. At least this is what I heard on a podcast this summer. But I believe it.

Julie writes:

In an interesting, if not completely unanticipated development, Google Scholar has added the capability to search patents, case law, and legal journals.

Wow. Free, easily searchable case law. Available to everyone.  Everywhere.

Google Scholar allows a person to limit a search to a jurisdiction.  A person can search both federal and state law opinions.

From my limited experience playing around on the site it does not appear as if Connecticut Superior Court opinions are available online.  Which is a loss that’s likely the fault of the Connecticut judicial branch and not Google.

Right now some of the search features are a little limited.  It’s no Bloomberg Law.  But it’s a start.  If history teaches us anything about Google it’s that they aim to be the best at whatever they choose to do. Sometimes that takes time.

It wouldn’t shock this lawyer if within five years Google is the number one legal search engine in the country. Google doesn’t want to be a legal search engine. It wants to be your legal search engine.

I’ll looking forward to an app for that on my phone.

A Pain In The Asset: Dividing Pet Medical Expenses In A Divorce

by Ryan McKeen

For better or for worse continues to go to the dogs.

Dog’s are expensive. Especially, sick dogs.

Any dog owner understands that pet medical bills can be no small expense.

Under Connecticut law, pets are personal property. There is little legal difference between a dog and a car.

Recently, a Connecticut Superior Court in the case of Geiger v. Geiger was confronted with the issue of post divorce pet medical bills.

The court ordered that the husband and the wife are to equally divide the costs of medical treatment for dogs.

The court treated the dogs as if they were marital debt. Think about that the next time you think of buying a pet. Pets are not just personal property. They’re marital debt.

Pets = A pain in the asset.

Connecticut Superior Court Clarifies Mechanic’s Lien Statute Regarding Time Limit For Filing Of Lien

The following situation comes up more often then you think.

A contractor performs services. Several months later, a homeowner notices a defect and calls the contractor to repair the work that was done months ago. The contractor comes out and performs the work and there’s a billing dispute.

Under Connecticut law, a contractor must file a mechanic’s lien within 90 days of the last day he performed work on the job site or the contractor loses his lien rights.

In Cianci v. Original Works, LLC., Judge Shaban held that any services performed at the property owner’s request, even trivial services, restarts the 90 day time limit for filing a lien.

Prior to this holding, this issue was one of some debate between contractor’s and homeowners.

What does this mean?

I don’t think it means much. It’s always been my interpretation of the statute that this is the law. Of course, my interpretation doesn’t make for law and a judge’s opinion does. In my opinion, this is nothing more than a clarification of existing rights.