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Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Gary Proctor

Appellate Court of Connecticut

June 30, 2015

CONNECTICUT LIGHT AND POWER COMPANY
v.
GARY PROCTOR

Argued, April 15, 2015

Action to recover damages for, inter alia, breach of an implied contract, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the court, Hon. Lawrence C. Klaczak, judge trial referee; judgment in part for the plaintiff, from which the defendant appealed to this court.

SYLLABUS

The plaintiff power company sought to recover damages from the defendant for breach of an implied in fact contract arising out of electrical services that the plaintiff had provided to a poultry farm. The defendant previously had been employed as a general manager of a poultry business, A Co., which then was purchased by another poultry business, P Co. The defendant was employed as a consultant for P Co. and he telephoned the plaintiff to establish electrical services to the farm for P Co. The defendant provided the plaintiff with his personal information, including his full name, home telephone number, home address, and social security number, and stated that he would assume responsibility for an electrical services account for P Co. Thereafter, the defendant sought, unsuccessfully, to have the owner of P Co. assume liability for the account, but the defendant did not ask the plaintiff to close the account. The plaintiff provided electrical services to P. Co.'s farm for several months, and then terminated those services for nonpayment. The trial court found there was an implied in fact contract entered into by the defendant with the plaintiff, and that the defendant was therefore liable for the outstanding electrical bills. On appeal, the defendant maintained that the owner of P. Co., and not the defendant, was liable to the plaintiff. Held that the trial court's finding that there was an implied in fact contract between the defendant and plaintiff was not clearly erroneous, as there was evidence in the record to support the finding that the plaintiff rendered its services with the reasonable expectation that the defendant would pay for those services, that those services were accepted in a manner that reasonably led the plaintiff to believe that the defendant intended to pay, and this court on the entire evidence was not left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake had been committed.

Derek V. Oatis, for the appellant (defendant).

Alexander G. Snyder, for the appellee (plaintiff).

Lavine, Alvord and Bear, Js.

OPINION

BEAR, J.

[158 Conn.App. 249] The defendant, Gary Proctor, appeals from the judgment of the trial court in favor of the plaintiff, Connecticut Light & Power Company, on the first count of its complaint alleging an implied in fact contract between the parties.[1] The defendant claims on appeal that the court improperly found the existence of an implied in fact contract subjecting him to liability for certain electrical services. We affirm the judgment of the court.

The record reveals the following relevant facts and procedural history. Prior to June, 2008, the defendant was employed by Avicola of America (Avicola) as a general manager of a chicken business located on a farm at 44 Upper Butcher Road in Ellington.[2] In June, 2008, the chicken business was purchased by Robert Chan doing business as Eastern Poultry and Pedigree Chicks (Pedigree Chicks). When the Avicola business was sold, the defendant became employed as a consultant to Pedigree Chicks.

On August 20, 2008, the defendant telephoned the plaintiff and sought to establish an electrical services account for Pedigree Chicks. Pedigree Chicks, however, was not registered with the Secretary of State, and [158 Conn.App. 250] thus, under the plaintiff's rules, was not eligible for an account with it.[3] The defendant declined to assume personal responsibility for the costs of providing electricity to the farm for Pedigree Chicks by having the account placed in his name, and, therefore, no such account was established at that time.

On November 26, 2008, the defendant again telephoned the plaintiff concerning the establishment of an electrical services account for Pedigree Chicks. During the telephone call to the plaintiff, the defendant provided the plaintiff with his full name, home address, home and cellular telephone numbers, and his social security number. This information, according to the plaintiff, is obtained only when a party such as the defendant is assuming responsibility for an electrical services account. The defendant additionally told the plaintiff that he would assume responsibility for all electrical services to the farm and chicken business on and after June 20, 2008, the date of the purchase of the chicken business by Pedigree Chicks.[4] The plaintiff mailed to the defendant a written application for service and a letter asking the defendant to complete, sign, and return the application with a security deposit.[5] According to the plaintiff, the application for service is sent contemporaneously with the creation of an account, and the letter addressed to the defendant and sent with the application was dated November 26, 2008. The defendant did not complete and return the application, [158 Conn.App. 251] but rather claimed to have traveled in his car to New Jersey to deliver the application to Chan.[6]

The plaintiff did not receive any payment for the electrical services it provided, and on August 20, 2009, it terminated the provision of electrical services to the defendant for the Pedigree Chicks business. At the time of the termination of services, the total amount owed was $14,620.51.

On October 26, 2011, the defendant was served with the plaintiff's two count complaint, alleging breach of an implied in fact contract in the first count, and unjust enrichment in the second count. On June 11, 2013, the case was tried to the court, and on June 19, 2013, the court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $14,620.51 on the count of implied in fact contract and found in favor of the defendant on the count of unjust enrichment.[7] In a brief memorandum of decision, the court stated: " The plaintiff brings this action in two counts (implied contract and unjust enrichment) alleging that it provided electrical service to property located at 44 Upper Butcher ...


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