Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court finding Plaintiffs responsible for failing to complete a project by the parties' agreed-upon deadline and awarding Defendant $335,000 in liquidated damages on its counterclaim, holding that the trial court's pretrial interpretation of various agreements between the parties was erroneous.At issue was which party was responsible for delays in constructing Dunkin Donuts Park in the City of Hartford. Plaintiffs, the project's developer and the design-builder, sued the City claiming breach of contract, and the City counterclaimed for breach of contract. The trial court concluded, as a matter of law, that Plaintiffs controlled the architect and were therefore liable for changes to and mistakes in the ballpark's design. Thereafter, the jury found Plaintiffs responsible for failing to complete the stadium by the agreed-upon deadline. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the parties' contracts did not unambiguously grant Plaintiffs legal control of the architect and the stadium's design across all relevant time periods. View "Centerplan Construction Co. v. Hartford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court awarding Plaintiff $200,309 in damages for Defendants' breach of a lease agreement, holding that the trial court improperly allocated the burden of proof as to mitigation in determining the damages award.At issue in this appeal was how the executive orders issued by Governor Ned Lamont during the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the enforceability of a commercial lease agreement for premises that Defendants leased from Plaintiff. Both parties appealed from the judgment of the trial court awarding Plaintiff damages. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial court (1) did not err in determining that the economic effects of the executive orders did not relieve Defendants of their obligations under the lease agreement; but (2) improperly relieved Defendants of their burden of proving that Plaintiff's efforts were commercially unreasonable under the circumstances, thus necessitating a new damages hearing. View "AGW Sono Partners, LLC v. Downtown Soho, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court awarding damages in favor of Plaintiff in this action seeking compensatory and punitive damages for breach of a partnership agreement, breach of fiduciary duty, and libel per se, holding that the trial court erred with respect to the libel claim.A jury found in favor of Plaintiff on all three counts and awarded him both compensatory and punitive damages. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by denying his motions to set aside the verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff's claims were not barred by the compulsory counterclaim rule set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(a)(1); (2) Plaintiff's breach of partnership agreement and breach of fiduciary duty claims did not fail as a matter of law under Karanian v. Maulucci, 440 A.2d 959 (Conn. 1981); and (3) with respect to the libel claim, the trial court erred by admitting the testimony of Plaintiff's expert witness on damages because there was no evidence to support the testimony. View "Chugh v. Kalra" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a question certified to the Supreme Court by the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut in this declaratory judgment action by holding that Defendant's plea of nolo contendere could not be used to trigger a criminal acts exclusion in a homeowners insurance policy governed by Connecticut law.At issue was whether Plaintiff, Allstate Insurance Company, could use Defendant's plea of nolo contendere to the charge of assault in the first degree to trigger a criminal acts exclusion that would bar Plaintiff's coverage of Defendant in a civil action involving the same underlying incident. The district court certified the question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that Defendant's plea of nolo contendere could not be used by Plaintiff to establish the applicability of the criminal acts exclusion of the relevant policy. View "Allstate Insurance Co. v. Tenn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment in favor of Defendant Theresa Virgulak in this action brought by Plaintiff, Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, holding that there was no error.The trial court found in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's foreclosure, reformation, and unjust enrichment claims. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly declined Plaintiff’s request to reform the mortgage deed to reference that the mortgage deed executed by Defendant was given to secure a note executed by her husband; and (2) the trial court correctly determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to foreclose the mortgage executed by Defendant because Defendant was not a borrower on the note. View "JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Ass'n v. Virgulak" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court concluding that enforcement of the prenuptial agreement between the parties was not unconscionable, with one exception, holding that the trial court did not err in ruling that the occurrence of the unforeseen events did not render the enforcement of the entire agreement unconscionable at the time of the dissolution.In 2010, shortly before the parties' marriage they executed a prenuptial agreement. In 2016, Plaintiff brought this action seeking dissolution of the marriage and enforcement of the prenuptial agreement. Defendant filed a cross-claim, asserting that the agreement was unenforceable because it was unconscionable at the time of the dissolution under Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-36g(a)(2). The trial court dissolved the marriage and enforced the terms of the prenuptial agreement with the exception of an attorney's fees provision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly allowed the parties the benefit of their agreed-upon, pre-marriage bargain. View "Grabe v. Hokin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court seeking to enforce a California judgment or, alternatively, to recover under the theories of breach of contract or quantum meruit, holding that the trial court did not err in rendering judgment in favor of Plaintiff.This case arose out of a dispute arising in connection a contract for the design, decoration, and staging for sale of Defendants' home. Plaintiff, a California company, obtained a default judgment against Defendants and thereafter filed an action in the superior court seeking to enforce the California judgment or to recover under the theories of breach of contract or quantum meruit. The trial court rendered judgment for Plaintiff on the count seeking to enforce the California judgment and in favor of Plaintiff on the breach of contract count. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court correctly enforced the California judgment against Defendant; (2) the trial court correctly determined that the agreement was not subject to the notice of cancellation provisions in the Home Solicitation Sales Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-134a et seq., (3) the damages award was proper. View "Meribear Productions, Inc. v. Frank" on Justia Law

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In this case coming to the Supreme Court on certification from a federal district court, the Court was asked to decide questions regarding Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572g. The Court answered the questions as follows: (1) "the amount of indebtedness then outstanding in connection with the credit transaction" is the amount of indebtedness outstanding at the time of the buyer's written demand on the seller for purposes of limiting an assignee's liability under section 52-572g; (2) an assignee can avoid liability under the statute only if the promissory note, contract, or other instrument is reassigned back to the seller prior to the buyer making such a demand; and (3) if a retail installment contract includes the Federal Trade Commission "holder rule" language mandated by 16 C.F.R. 433.2, an assignee's liability under that rule is cumulative to its liability under section 52-572g. View "Hernandez v. Apple Auto Wholesalers of Waterbury, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court awarding postjudgment, offer of compromise interest to Plaintiff under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-192a and Practice Book 17-18, holding that the trial court's award of postjudgment, offer of compromise interest was improper.Plaintiff, an employment staffing agency that providers workers for temporary assignments, commenced this action against Defendant to recover a debt by filing a complaint for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and awarded Plaintiff interest. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court's award of postjudgment interest under section 52-192a and Practice Book 17-18 was improper. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment as to the award of postjudgment interest under section 52-192a, holding that the award of post judgment, offer of compromise interest was improper under Gionfriddo v. Avis Rent A Car system, Inc., 472 A.2d 316 (Conn. 1984). View "Kelly Services, Inc. v. Senior Network, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to set aside the jury's verdict in this breach of contract action on the grounds that the terms of the underlying contract precluded such relief, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff, a general contractor, entered into a contract with Defendant, a subcontractor, to provide services related to the installation of drywall and trim. Plaintiff later filed this action alleging that Defendant breached the contract by abandoning performance. The jury found Defendant liable and awarded Plaintiff $45,374. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court committed reversible error by declining to set aside the jury's award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the jury could not have reasonably reached the verdict that it did. View "Viking Construction, Inc. v. TMP Construction Group, LLC" on Justia Law