Free Workshop For Judicial Branch Employees Considering Starting A Small Firm

Yesterday, the Connecticut Judicial Branch issued layoff notices to 126 employees. These cuts are devastating to both the judicial system and to the individuals losing their jobs. Sad news all around. Our hearts go out to those impacted.

On Saturday, June 4th, 2016, we’re offering a free workshop for those judicial branch employees considering opening a solo or small law practice. The workshop will be small. We will cover the basics. Everything from phones, to office space, to email, to accounting, to office supplies, and marketing. We’re willing to candidly share our experiences with you in the hopes of saving you time and money.

Please contact me if you are interested in attending at: An RSVP is required. Lunch will be provided. Space will be limited.


I Was Injured In A Car Accident. Will An Attorney Take A Fee On The Property Damage Settlement?

We can’t answer for what other attorneys may do.

At McKeen Law Firm, LLC we never take a fee on a property damage settlement for a car wreck.

When folks get hurt by someone choosing to violate safety rules, our job is to help get them back on their feet as soon as possible. For many folks, a car is a lifeline to get to their jobs and school.

When a car is totaled, folks need a new vehicle as soon as possible.  We’re here to help make sure the insurance company promptly pays you full value for your loss. And when we do so, we hand the whole check over to you.

When your car needs to be fixed that money needs to go to fixing it.

Some other attorneys may see this differently and charge a fee. Not us. Not now. Not ever.

There is no charge for a consultation and never a fee unless we recover for you.

Injured in a car accident? Need Help. Contact Connecticut Attorneys at McKeen Law Firm, LLC. The CT Law Tribune’s Personal Injury Hall of Fame Recently Recognized McKeen Law Firm, LLC for its outstanding results. We can help. Call us (860) 471-8333 or contact us using the form below.

I Was Injured. Will The Insurance Company Use Private Investigators To Follow Me?

For many folks the incident that caused an injury is just the start. The start of many more injuries to come. Chapter 1 of the Blackhat Bible for Defending Personal Injury cases is to keep adding insult to injury.

Whatever insurance company is representing the person who injures you is doing whatever they can to prevent you from recovering for the harms and losses that you’ve suffered. Make no mistake about it – they’re out to get you.

One of their “go to” tactics is to hire a private investigator to stalk you. They’ll pay some goon squad to video tape you grocery shopping.

The primary reason insurance companies do this is to intimidate someone their insured has injured into settling their claim for less than fair value. Frankly, it’s bullshit.

At McKeen Law Firm, we arm our clients against the goon squad. Here are some simple tips:

1. Talk with your neighbors. Ask them to report any unusual vehicles in your neighborhood. If they see something ask them to say something – call the police.

2. If you think you are being watched call the police. If at all possible get the vehicle’s license plates.

3. When it’s safe to do so – turn your cell phone’s video camera on and film the goons.

4. Immediately notify your lawyer that you are being followed.

5. They’re doing this to scare you. Being stalked is no joke. Consider going to counseling to address these fears.

Don’t let them intimidate you. That’s all they want. They want you to lose sleep thinking there’s someone in the bushes at your family picnic. That’s because insurance companies aren’t above putting a goon in those very bushes.

We’ve got more ideas on how to deal with this kind of stalking that we’re not going to share on this site. Too good to post. Don’t want the blackhats getting ahold of them. We know how to judo the goons.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. We know how to turn the tables on insurance companies.


Protecting Connecticut’s Children: Pass Senate Bill 1028 And Toll Statutes of Limitations For Minors

Connecticut has the terrible distinction of being the only State in the country that does not toll statute of limitations for minors. This is shameful. We shouldn’t lag every other state in protecting the rights of injured children.

In CT most claims must be brought within two years of the date the claim arose. For example if someone is in a car accident on January 1, 2015 that person has until January 1st of 2017 to file suit. Failing to file suite within the statute of limitations is in most cases an absolute bar to the claim.

Minors in CT cannot bring suit on their own. Any claims must be brought through their parent or guardian.

Under existing CT law if a minor (16 or younger) suffers injuries as a result of someone choosing to violate safety rules and his parents don’t bring suit he will never have the ability to seek compensation for the harms and losses he has suffered.

We know for a variety of reasons including shame and self preservation that minors may not immediately report harms and losses caused to them by a person bent on creating mayhem.

Senate Bill 1028 seeks to bring CT in line with beacons of more progressive states like Mississippi by tolling statutes of limitations for negligence until the child reaches the age of 19 or no more than 8 years from “the date the act or omission complained of.”

Connecticut Legislators should pass Senate Bill 1028. Providing folks with the opportunity to hold those who injure minors accountable for their actions makes us all safer. Accountability protects CT’s children and is good for us all.

When those who cause harms to children aren’t held accountable the costs shift on to the rest of us. Passing this bill is the right thing to do.

Who Gets The Engagement Ring After A Break Up?

Much has been made in recent days of a Georgia man having to pay $50,000 for breaking an engagement to his fiancee.

Engagement ring.
Engagement ring.

In Connecticut the most common form of engagement litigation involves engagement rings. Engagement ring litigation is really an extension of property and contractual litigation.

Connecticut follows the modern view is that the gift of the engagement ring is a
conditional gift, the condition being the subsequent marriage of the parties. If the
marriage does not take place, the condition has not been met and the ring should be returned to the donor. Thorndike v. Demirs, No. CV05-5000243S (J.D. Waterbury at Waterbury, Jul. 26, 2007.

Connecticut has adopted the modern view for practical reasons. First, “No-fault’ jurisdictions highlight that the primary purpose behind the engagement period is to allow the couple to test the permanency of their feelings for one another, and with that purpose in mind, it would be irrational to penalize the donor for taking steps to prevent a possibly unhappy marriage.

Further, Connecticut has adopted this rule for judicial economy.  “We do not want to require our judiciary to tackle the seemingly insurmountable task of determining which party was at fault for the termination of an engagement for marriage, as such may force trial courts to sort through volumes of self-serving testimony regarding who-did-what during the engagement.”

There are various exceptions to this rule (e.g. fraud) but the general rule in Connecticut is that the ring belongs to the donor until “I-do’s” are exchanged.

Government Shutdown Could Impact Connecticut Real Estate Closings

“This is going to be very disruptive to the mortgage industry and pretty much result in a freeze of the pipeline,” said Craig Strent, CEO of Bethesda, Md.-based Apex Home Loans. “New loans can be taken, but without IRS and Social Security number verifications, [they] will not be able to proceed to closing.” – CNBC

We’re watching this situation very closely. The lenders that I spoke with yesterday were unsure exactly how the government shutdown will impact real estate closings in Connecticut.

Suffice to say the longer the shutdown the greater the impact.


McKeen Law Firm FIrm, LLC is a Connecticut law firm that practices in the area of real estate law.


Using A Mac? Use FireFox To e-file Documents With Connecticut Courts

Converting from using PCs to Macs has been great. The only problem that I’ve encountered is e-filing documents with the Connecticut Judicial Branch.

My default browser is Chrome. My Mac comes preinstalled with Safari. I can’t obtain a viable version of Internet Explorer.

The Connecticut judicial branch website does not play nice with either Chrome or Safari. Some judicial Branch forms won’t download while others will download but won’t allow you to save information in fields. Forget trying to upload documents.

If you are e-filing documents and wish to preserve your sanity – download Firefox.

“Appropriately The Day Preceding Valentine’s Day”……CT’s Great Engagement Ring Case

Engagement Ring

I’ve never posted a full case opinion on this blog before.  Opinions usually lack appeal to a general audience. It’s why lawyers are paid to read them. But the case of White v. Finch is worth the read on this Valentine’s Day:

This is an action in which the plaintiff seeks to recover from the defendant the sum of $515.91, alleged to be the value of an engagement ring which, the engagement broken, the defendant has refused to return.

This is a case in which the credibility of the witnesses has greatly influenced the decision of the court. Pagano v. Mitchell, 9 Conn.Sup. 329. The parties joined in some very spirited issues of veracity. Juliano v. Latella, 12 Conn.Sup. 471.

In October, 1962, the plaintiff, then a teacher in the public school and a church organist in the town of Clinton, met the defendant. Going out together, they developed a mutual fondness, one for the other, and, before Christmas, 1962, the plaintiff proposed marriage to the defendant. More unready then unwilling, the defendant demurred, claiming that she wanted time ‘to think it over.’ On February 13, 1963, appropriately the day preceding Valentine’s Day, the proposal was renewed and accepted. One week thereafter the engagement ring, subject of this action, was given to the defendant by the plaintiff. The engagement was not announced publicly immediately. This is important only in that the defendant’s failure to take immediate action to relay the joyous information to the would became a bone of contention between the parties.

There were other problems. The previous constant companionship became infrequent meetings. The plaintiff, a ski enthusiast, sought out the snowcapped hills, leaving the defendant, uninvited, alone in Clinton. The plaintiff, a forceful man, announced to his immediate friends that the wedding was to be in August, although his bride-to-be had not as yet set the date. This no more pleased her than did his gift of a book of etiquette, ‘so that she might plan the wedding correctly,’ but their status as an engaged couple remained the same.

The climax came in the summer of 1963, coincidentally with the tercentencary celebration of the founding of the town of Clinton. Among the planned festivities, there was to be a beauty contest which the defendant had been asked to enter, representing her mother’s garden club. To this the plaintiff had multiple objections, the most cogent of which was that he was, as he stated, to be a judge in the contest. The ethical argument won out, and the defendant withdrew, attending the contest as an observer. The plaintiff, far from being a judge, was not even there. He had gone to the defendant’s home and, not finding her there, suspected the worst.

However unfounded were these suspicions, they remained with the plaintiff until the next day, when the defendant came to the plaintiff’s lodging to seek the return of a punchbowl given them as an engagement present. The purpose of the quest was innocuous. She wanted to use it. The plaintiff at first refused to return it, saying that it had been given to them for their home and there was to be no home. Then followed his statement, ‘As far as I am concerned, this engagement is through.’ The following day the defendant returned to the plaintiff all gifts given her by him. She did not return the engagement ring. Subsequently, an announcement was made in the newspaper, at the defendant’s bidding, that the engagement had been terminated ‘by mutual consent.’

The question whether the engagement was broken by one of the parties or terminated by mutual consent cannot be determined by a newspaper article, calculated to preserve the dignity of both parties as far as the rest of the world was concerned. The defendant could have done little else.

Whether the defendant would have retreated from the engagement before the plaintiff said the fateful words is not in issue. Whatever words were spoken and whatever action was taken to terminate the engagement were spoken and taken by the plaintiff.

The question as to the ownership of the engagement ring is unique in this jurisdiction. Whether Connecticut people are quick to adjust such problems without adjudication or unwilling to publicize them is not quite clear. Others in other jurisdictions have not been so shy. The Roman Law provided for the return of betrothal gifts when the parties mutually dissolved the contract and for forfeiture by the party at fault when the repudiation was unjustified. Fryer, Readings on Personal Property (3d Ed.) p. 957. The prevailing view in the United States and England follows the Roman Law in placing weight upon the fault of the parties. Hence, it has been held that where an engagement is broken owing to the fault of the donor, he may not recover the ring. Schultz v. Duitz, 253 Ky. 135, 69 S.W.2d 27, 92 A.L.R. 600; Beck v. Cohen, 237 App.Div. 729, 262 N.Y.S. 716; Beer v. Hart, 153 Misc. 277, 274 N.Y.S. 671. The decisions are based upon the theory that the ring is given upon an implied condition that the marriage will take place. The law construes a promise of marriage generally to be a promise to marry on request. Clark v. Pendleton, 20 Conn. 495, 505. Seldom are such contracts expressed in very definite language, and they are not improperly or infrequently inferred as much from the conduct of the parties toward each other as from any direct evidence of expressed stipulations. Waters v. Bristol, 26 Conn. 398, 405.

A breach of an executory contract by anticipation occurs only when there is a distinct, unequivocal and absolute refusal to perform. The renunciation must be so distinct that its purpose is manifest and so absolute that the intention to no longer abide by the terms of the contract is beyond question. Wonalancet Co. v. Banfield, 116 Conn. 582, 586, 165 A. 785; Wells v. Hartford Manila Co., 76 Conn. 27, 35, 55 A. 599. No words could have been more distinct, more unequivocal than the plaintiff’s: ‘As far as I am concerned, the engagement is through.’ There was, indeed, a breach of the promise to marry, but it came about through the actions and words of the plaintiff.

It is well settled that the party who has initiated the action and who seeks a judgment in his favor must prove that which he alleges, if he would prevail. Stevens v. Smoker, 84 Conn. 569, 572, 80 A. 788; Lockwood v. Lockwood, 80 Conn. 513, 521, 69 A. 8. This burden of proof the plaintiff has not sustained.

It would be academic to discuss the question of damages here.

For the reasons above stated, the issues are found for the defendant.

Accordingly, judgment may enter for the defendant, who may receive her costs.

-HOLDEN, Judge

White v. Finch, 3 Conn. Cir. Ct. 138, 139, 209 A.2d 199, 200 (1964)


Are Sunday Liquor Sales Hurting Package Stores?

Laws often have unintended consequences. Critics of repealing Sunday sales argued that allowing Sunday sales would increase alcohol consumption while various liquor industry groups hoped that would be the case.

Last week, I stopped by my local package store.  I asked the clerk about the impact of Sunday sales on his business.

He said “It’s terrible”. beer

I said, “How so? More work for the same money?”

He responded, “I wish. It’s worse than that. Less money and more work. Our revenues have been down since the new law went into effect. People used to over buy on Friday and Saturday and now they’re not because stores are open on Sunday.”

That’s one small package store owner’s experience. It will be interesting to see what impact if any the law has on sales tax revenues from alcohol across the state.