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TD Bank, N.A. v. Doran

Appellate Court of Connecticut

January 19, 2016

TD BANK, N.A.
v.
JOHN J. DORAN, JR., ET AL

         Argued October 26, 2015

          Action to foreclose a mortgage on certain real property owned by the named defendant et al., and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Middlesex, where the named defendant et al. were defaulted for failure to plead; thereafter, the defendant First Connecticut Capital, LLC, et al. were defaulted for failure to disclose a defense; subsequently, the court, Marcus, J., granted the plaintiff's motion for a judgment of strict foreclosure and rendered judgment thereon; thereafter, the court, Domnarski, J., granted the plaintiff's motion for a deficiency judgment and rendered judgment thereon, from which the named defendant et al. appealed to this court.

          Affirmed.

          SYLLABUS

         The plaintiff bank sought a deficiency judgment after the trial court had rendered judgment foreclosing a mortgage on certain real property owned by the defendants. The court granted the plaintiff's motion for judgment of strict foreclosure, rendered judgment thereon, and the defendants did not appeal from the foreclosure judgment. The plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for a deficiency judgment pursuant to statute (§ 49-14) and the defendants objected. The defendants claimed for the first time that the foreclosure action was barred by laches. At the hearing on the motion, there was testimony that when the defendants received notice of the foreclosure action, they decided not to challenge the foreclosure because it would not have led to a deficiency. The defendants had asked the plaintiff to foreclose on the property, but once the foreclosure action was filed, they did not take any action to move the case along. Subsequently, they received notice that the property was worth less than the debt. The court calculated the deficiency, rejected the defendants' laches defense, and granted the plaintiff's motion for a deficiency judgment and rendered judgment thereon. The trial court concluded that evidence that the defendants had asked the plaintiff to foreclose on the property years earlier was not relevant to the issue before the court because the laches defense could have been raised in the foreclosure proceeding at the time of that judgment. Furthermore, the court could not find that the plaintiff inexcusably delayed the foreclosure action, and, therefore, the defendants did not prove laches. On appeal, the defendants claimed that the trial court improperly concluded that the special defense of laches was irrelevant to the deficiency judgment and that the court's finding that the plaintiff had not inexcusably delayed the foreclosure proceeding was erroneous. Held that the trial court properly concluded that the defendants could not raise the special defense of laches, as it was not relevant at the deficiency judgment hearing after the judgment of strict foreclosure had been rendered and not appealed, the law day had passed, and title had vested in the plaintiff: the defendant's defense of laches could have been raised during the foreclosure proceedings and therefore could not be relitigated in the motion for a deficiency judgment hearing as contemplated by § 49-14, which has a very limited purpose of determining the value of the property that had been foreclosed as of the date that title vested in the mortgagee and awarding the difference between that value and the amount of the debt that had already been determined by the foreclosure judgment; furthermore, the record did not support the defendants' contention that they could not have raised the defense of laches at the strict foreclosure hearing, as the defendants had previously acknowledged the possibility of a deficiency fifteen weeks prior to the filing of the plaintiff's motion for judgment of strict foreclosure, and they had received notice that the property was worth less than the debt approximately one month before the strict foreclosure hearing; furthermore, this court having concluded that the defendant's latches defense could not have been raised in the deficiency hearing, this court did not address the defendants' claim that the trial court's finding that the plaintiff had not inexcusably delayed the foreclosure proceeding was erroneous.

         Matthew S. Carlone, for the appellant (named defendant et al.).

         Pierre-Yves Kolakowski, for the appellee (plaintiff).

         DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Alvord, Js.

          OPINION

Page 289

         [162 Conn.App. 462] DiPENTIMA, C. J.

         The defendants John J. Doran, Jr., and Jodie Chase[1] appeal from the deficiency judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the plaintiff, TD Bank, N.A.,[2] in the amount of $167,022.23. On appeal, the defendants claim that the court (1) improperly concluded that their special defense of laches was not relevant to the deficiency judgment proceeding and (2) erroneously found that the plaintiff did not

Page 290

inexcusably delay the strict foreclosure proceedings. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The defendants, a married couple, executed a $525,000 home equity line of credit note in 2002, mortgaging their home located at 103 Meadow Woods Road, Deep River (property) to secure the debt. [162 Conn.App. 463] Due to the foreclosure of another mortgage on the ...


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