October 15, 2015.
seeking, inter alia, to invalidate a trust, brought to the
Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, where
the court, Hartmere, J., denied the motion to substitute the
party plaintiff and granted the defendants' motion to
dismiss, and rendered judgment thereon, from which the
plaintiff appealed to this court.
J. Klau, with whom was Bradley K. Cooney, for the appellant
B. Blumenfeld, with whom, on the brief, were Lorinda S. Coon
and Lawrence J. Merly, for the appellees (defendants).
Mullins and Bishop, Js. BISHOP, J. In this opinion the other
Conn.App. 580] BISHOP, J.
plaintiff, Ruth Gladstein, appeals from the judgment of the
trial court denying her motion to substitute the trustee of
her bankruptcy estate as the proper plaintiff and thereafter
dismissing her action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
on the ground that she lacked standing to bring the present
action. On appeal, although the plaintiff claims that the
court erred in denying her motion to substitute, she
acknowledges that she lacked standing to bring this action in
her individual name. Accordingly, she concedes that if the
court properly denied her motion to substitute, the
court's judgment of dismissal likewise would be proper.
On appeal, therefore, we confine our review to the question
of whether the court properly denied the plaintiff's
motion to substitute. Concluding that the court acted
correctly, we affirm the judgment.
following undisputed factual and procedural history is
pertinent to our consideration of the issue presented in this
appeal. In 1992, the plaintiff's mother executed a trust
document in which the plaintiff was named as a 50 percent
residual beneficiary. In 1997, the plaintiff's mother
amended the trust document to reduce the plaintiff's
interest to 10 percent. The action [163 Conn.App. 581] from
which this appeal arises was brought by the plaintiff against
her sister, Sarann Goldfield, and her brother-in-law, Alvin
Goldfield, claiming a misuse of trust funds and also undue
in regard to the 1997 amendment to the trust. The plaintiff
also named Attorney Martin Wolf, of the law firm of Cohen and
Wolf, P.C., as a defendant. Attorney Wolf drafted the trust
and the 1997 amendment and serves, as well, as the trustee.
It is also relevant to this appeal that in 2008, the
plaintiff, then a resident of Nevada, filed a petition in
bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the
District of Nevada. Nowhere in her filings in conjunction
with the bankruptcy did the plaintiff list her status as a
residual beneficiary of the trust created by her mother;
nowhere in her filings did she list, as a chose in action,
her claims or potential claims against the defendants herein
regarding her potential interest in the trust.
omission violated federal bankruptcy law which requires a
debtor to disclose all assets, including interests in trusts
and potential legal claims, as part of the bankruptcy estate.
11 U.S.C. § § 521 (a) (debtor must disclose "
all legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property as
of the commencement of the case" ) and 541 (a) (7) (duty
to disclose is continuous); see also Burnes v. Pemco
Aeroplex, Inc., 291 F.3d 1282, 1288 (11th Cir. 2002)
(" [t]he success of [the] bankruptcy laws requires a
debtor's full and honest disclosure"
Conn.App. 582] In September, 2009, following her discharge in
bankruptcy, the plaintiff then brought the present action
against the defendants in her own name. The plaintiff
alleged, inter alia, that Sarann Goldfield and her husband,
Alvin Goldfield, committed forgery and exerted undue
influence in connection with the trust's 1997 amendment.
She also alleged that Attorney Wolf and his firm, Cohen and
Wolf, P.C., breached their fiduciary duties to the trust by
assisting the Goldfields in effectuating the amendment.
However, once the plaintiff filed for bankruptcy, this claim
belonged to the bankrupt estate and, therefore, to the
trustee in bankruptcy and not the plaintiff. And, because
this asset was not disclosed, it remained the property of the
trustee. 11 U.S.C. § 554 (d) (property not disclosed
during bankruptcy remains part of bankruptcy estate);
Assn. Resources, Inc. v. Wall, 298 Conn. 145,
164-65, 2 A.3d 873 (2010) (undisclosed assets remain property
of bankruptcy estate); see also Burnes v. Pemco Aeroplex,
Inc., supra, 291 F.3d 1288 (" [a]llowing
[the debtor] to back-up, re-open the bankruptcy case, and
amend his bankruptcy filings, only after his omission has
been challenged by an adversary, suggests that a debtor
should consider disclosing personal assets only if he is
caught concealing them" ).
it is a fair reading of the procedural history of this matter
that the plaintiff did not bring the existence of this claim
to the attention of the bankruptcy court and the trustee
appointed to oversee her assets. Instead, once she received a
bankruptcy discharge in which ...