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Stone v. Pattis

Appellate Court of Connecticut

August 25, 2015

LUCAS B. STONE ET AL.
v.
NORMAN A. PATTIS ET AL

Submitted on Briefs May 21, 2015

Action to recover damages for, inter alia, breach of contract, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk, where the court, Brazzel-Massaro, J., granted in part the motion to strike filed by the defendant John J. Radshaw III et al.; thereafter, the matter was transferred to the Complex Litigation Docket; subsequently, the court, Blawie, J., granted the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant John J. Radshaw III et al., from which the plaintiffs appealed to this court, which affirmed the judgment of the trial court; thereafter, the court, Brazzel-Massaro, J., denied the plaintiffs' motion for default as to the defendant John J. Radshaw III et al., granted in part the motion to strike filed by the named defendant et al., granted the motion to dismiss as to the named plaintiff filed by the named defendant et al., and granted the motion for summary judgment filed by the named defendant et al. and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiffs appealed to this court, which dismissed the appeal in part; subsequently, the court, Brazzel-Massaro, J., denied the plaintiffs' motion for default as to the defendant John J. Radshaw III et al., and denied the plaintiffs' motion to reargue, and the plaintiffs filed an amended appeal.

SYLLABUS

The self-represented plaintiffs, S and Z, sought to recover damages from the defendant attorneys and their law firms, P Co. and H Co., for, inter alia, breach of contract. The plaintiffs had retained P Co. to represent them in a federal action against the town of Westport, and H Co. had been retained to represent the town in that action. During the federal action, H Co. hired an attorney from P Co., and, after the federal action was withdrawn, the plaintiffs commenced this action. The trial court granted H Co.'s motion to strike all but one of the counts of the complaint against it and then granted, on the basis of absolute immunity, H Co.'s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction the remaining count alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress. This court affirmed the trial court's judgment. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint again alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress against H Co., which did not file a responsive pleading. The trial court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a default judgment, in which they claimed that H Co. had failed to respond to the amended complaint. H Co. in turn objected to the motion for a default judgment, noting that the trial court previously had dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court agreed with H Co., and denied the plaintiffs' motion for a default judgment, and the plaintiffs filed a motion to reargue. The action proceeded as against P Co. and the court then granted P Co.'s motion to strike and motion to dismiss for failure to comply with the trial court's order to appear for a deposition. Subsequently, the trial court rendered summary judgment for P Co. on all remaining counts against it on the ground that they were barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiffs appealed, claiming that the trial court improperly granted P Co.'s motion to strike and its motion to dismiss, rendered summary judgment in favor of P Co., and denied the plaintiffs' motion for a default judgment with respect to H Co. This court dismissed the plaintiffs' appeal with respect to H Co. Thereafter, the plaintiffs filed in the trial court another motion for a default judgment with respect to H Co. in which they claimed that H Co. had failed to respond to their motion to reargue. The trial court denied the motion for a default judgment and the motion to reargue, and this court permitted the plaintiffs to file an amended appeal limited to the denial of their motion to reargue the court's denial of the plaintiffs' motion for a default judgment against H Co.

Held :

1. The claims that the trial court improperly granted the motions filed by P Co. did not merit substantial discussion, this court having concluded, on the basis of its review of the record, that the trial court properly granted those motions in accordance with Connecticut law; furthermore, the plaintiffs' allegation of judicial bias and their assertion that the case was improperly reassigned were unpersuasive.

2. The trial court properly denied the plaintiffs' motion for a judgment of default and did not abuse its discretion in denying their motion to reargue; this court having already held that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' negligent infliction of emotional distress claim against H Co., the trial court could not render a default judgment in favor of the plaintiffs when their amended complaint once again recited that claim.

3. The plaintiffs could not prevail on their claims that the trial court, in exercising its discretion over various discovery and procedural matters, discriminated against Z on the basis of physical disability and violated their right to due process under the federal constitution, the record having demonstrated that the court listened to Z's concerns and made accommodations to the extent feasible; furthermore, this court declined to review the due process allegations advanced by the plaintiffs, which amounted to little more than abstract assertions, because they were inadequately briefed, the plaintiffs having failed to provide any analysis of their claims or cite to any relevant authority.

Lucas B. Stone, self-represented, and Joan L. Zygmunt, self-represented, the appellants (plaintiffs), filed a brief.

Robert C.E. Laney and Thomas J. Plumridge filed a brief for the appellees (named defendant et al.).

Kerry R. Callahan and Christopher A. Klepps filed a brief for the appellees (defendant John J. Radshaw III et al.).

Gruendel, Sheldon and Borden, Js.

OPINION

Page 88

[159 Conn.App. 408] GRUEN ...


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