Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Haven, New Haven
DECISION RE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (#112) (#114) MOTION TO DISMISS (#109)
Robin L. Wilson, J.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On June 12, 2014, the plaintiff, Elin Nilsen, filed a two-count complaint against the defendants, Ninth Square Project Limited Partnership (Ninth Square) and LAZ Parking Ltd., LLC (LAZ). On July 23, 2014, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, alleging negligence based on the following facts. On April 27, 2012, the plaintiff attempted to enter a parking garage located at 81 George Street in New Haven through a doorway. As the plaintiff attempted to enter the garage, the door suddenly and rapidly slammed shut, causing her to sustain injuries to her third and fourth fingers on her right hand. Additionally, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants owned, managed, or controlled the premises in question. Count one of the amended complaint alleges negligence on the grounds that Ninth Square (i) failed to properly inspect the premises, (ii) failed to maintain the doorway in a reasonably safe condition, and (iii) failed to warn the plaintiff that the doorway posed a risk of bodily injury. Count two of the amended complaint alleges negligence against LAZ based on the same grounds as count one.
As indicated by State Marshal Arthur B. Cyr's return of service, the writ, summons, and complaint were personally delivered to him on April 28, 2014, and he made legal service upon the defendants on April 29, 2014. The return of service indicates that Cyr served Ninth Square's agent for service, Gary Scappini, Manager, CT Corporation Systems, at 1 Corporate Center, eleventh floor in Hartford and served LAZ' agent for service, Matthew S. Carlone, Esq., of Terk & Carlone, LLC, at 81 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield.
On October 7, 2014, Ninth Square filed an answer and subsequently filed an amended answer on March 3, 2015. In its amended answer, Ninth Square raised, inter alia, the special defense of the statute of limitations. Specifically, Ninth Square asserted that the plaintiff's claims were time barred by General Statutes § 52-584.
On March 18, 2015, an appearance for LAZ was filed with the court contemporaneously with a motion to dismiss. The motion to dismiss was based on the ground that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over LAZ due to an insufficiency of service of process. LAZ attached the following documents to its motion to dismiss: (i) Cyr's return of service; (ii) an affidavit from Attorney Glenn Terk, indicating that he was the registered agent for service for LAZ, that he was unaware of any claim being filed by the plaintiff against LAZ until January of 2015, that 81 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield is the business address of Terk & Carlone, LLC, not his abode, and that Attorney Matthew Carlone is not an officer at LAZ; (iii) the electronic business inquiry record for LAZ from the secretary of the state's website, indicating that its agent for service was Terk, and that Terk's business address is 15 Lewis Street in Hartford and his residence address is 445 Old Reservoir Road in Wethersfield; and (iv) an affidavit from Patrice Howell, the regional human resources manager for LAZ, indicating that Terk was the agent for service for LAZ on April 29, 2014, that Carlone is not an officer at LAZ, that LAZ' principal office was 15 Lewis Street in Hartford on April 29, 2014, and it did not operate any business in Wethersfield at that time, and that she and other members in her office were unaware of the plaintiff's lawsuit prior to January of 2015.
The plaintiff filed a memorandum of law in opposition to the motion to dismiss on April 17, 2015. Four documents were attached to the plaintiff's memorandum: (i) a printout from the state of Connecticut judicial branch, listing the address for the " Terk Glenn T. Law Offices" as 81 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield; (ii) a printout from the state of Connecticut judicial branch, listing the address for " Terk & Carlone, LLC" as 81 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield; (iii) an affidavit from State Marshal Cyr, indicating that the summons in the present case listed Glenn T. Terk as agent for LAZ, that Terk had a law office at 81 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield, that on April 29, 2013,  he entered the law office at 81 Wolcott Hill Road and was informed that Terk was not present, that Carlone indicated that he had authority to accept service on behalf of Terk, that Cyr handed service of process to Carlone, that he had in the past served process directed to Terk at 81 Wolcott Hill Road in his capacity as agent for service for other parties but had handed the documents to other individuals, and that this method of service had not been previously challenged; and (iv) a copy of the civil summons filed by the plaintiff. LAZ filed a reply to the plaintiff's opposition on April 21, 2015.
Shortly after the plaintiff filed an objection to LAZ' motion to dismiss, Ninth Square filed a motion for summary judgment on June 15, 2015, based on the ground that the plaintiff's claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The only document attached to Ninth Square's motion was a copy of Cyr's return of service.
On June 29, 2015, LAZ filed a motion to join the motion for summary judgment filed by Ninth Square. In its motion, LAZ indicated that the motion for summary judgment was an alternative ground to dispose of the action filed against it if the court did not favorably rule on its pending motion to dismiss based on inadequate service of process. LAZ did not attach any documents to this motion. The plaintiff filed a memorandum of law in opposition to the defendants' joint motion for summary judgment on July 22, 2015. The only document attached to the plaintiff's memorandum was Cyr's return of service. LAZ filed a reply to the plaintiff's memorandum of law in opposition to the motion for summary judgment on July 27, 2015, and Ninth Square filed its reply on July 29, 2015. Neither defendant attached additional documents to their replies. This court heard oral argument on both the motion to dismiss and the joint motion for summary judgment at short calendar on August 17, 2015.
Whether this Court Should Grant or Deny the Defendants' Joint Motion for Summary Judgment on the Ground that the Plaintiff Failed to Serve the Defendants Within the ...