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Citigroup Global Markets Realty Corp. v. Christiansen

Appellate Court of Connecticut

March 8, 2016

CITIGROUP GLOBAL MARKETS REALTY CORPORATION
v.
JAMES E. CHRISTIANSEN ET AL

         Considered January 13, 2016.

          Action to foreclose a mortgage on certain of the defendants' real property, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk, where the defendant Cielo Christiansen was defaulted for failure to appear; thereafter, the named defendant was defaulted for failure to plead; subsequently, the court, Mintz, J., granted the plaintiff's motion for a judgment of strict foreclosure and rendered judgment thereon; thereafter, Citi Property Holdings, Inc., was substituted as the party plaintiff; subsequently, Mid Pac Portfolio, LLC, was substituted as the party plaintiff; thereafter, the court granted the substitute plaintiff's motion to open the judgment, set a new law day and rendered a judgment of strict foreclosure; subsequently, the court denied the defendants' motions to open the judgment; thereafter, the court denied the defendants' third motion to open the judgment, and the named defendant appealed to this court; subsequently, the substitute plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss the appeal with this court.

          SYLLABUS

         The plaintiff sought to foreclose a mortgage on certain real property owned by the defendants, J and C. The defendants were defaulted for failure to plead and to appear, respectively. Thereafter, the trial court granted the plaintiff's motion for a judgment of strict foreclosure and rendered judgment thereon. The judgment was opened and the law days extended multiple times over the next six years due to bankruptcy petitions filed by the defendants. After the bankruptcy court granted the motion filed by the substitute plaintiff, M Co., for relief from the bankruptcy stay, the trial court granted M Co.'s motion to open the judgment, rendered a judgment of strict foreclosure, and set new law days. The defendants then filed a motion to open the judgment and to extend the law days. The trial court denied the motion, but, sua sponte, opened the judgment and extended the law days. Thereafter, the defendants filed a second motion to open the judgment and to extend the law days, which the court denied. The court, however, again, sua sponte, opened the judgment and extended the law days. Subsequently, the defendants filed a third motion to open the judgment and to extend the law days, which the court denied, and J appealed to this court. J did not exercise his right of redemption before his law day had passed. Thereafter, M Co. filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the appeal was moot. Held that J's appeal was moot, there having been no practical relief that this court could afford him; there was no automatic appellate stay upon the trial court's denial of the third motion to open the judgment and J's filing of his appeal therefrom because J's motion did not include an accompanying affidavit certifying that the motion was filed for good cause arising after the court's denial of the second motion to open, as required by the applicable rule of practice (§ 61-11[g]), and, therefore, J's law day had passed without him having exercised his right of redemption and title to the subject property had vested absolutely in M Co., which prohibited this court from granting any practical relief.

         Jeffrey M. Knickerbocker, in support of the motion.

         DiPentima, C. J., and Alvord, Prescott and Mullins, Js. PRESCOTT, J. In this opinion the other justices concurred.

          OPINION

Page 77

          [163 Conn.App. 636] PRESCOTT, J.

          The substituted plaintiff, Mid Pac Portfolio, LLC,[1] filed a motion to dismiss the appeal of the [163 Conn.App. 637] defendant James E. Christiansen[2] from the judgment of the trial court denying his third motion to open the judgment of strict foreclosure and from the foreclosure judgment. The plaintiff argues that this appeal is moot because the denial of the defendant's third motion to open did not stay the running of the law days and, thus, title to the subject property has vested in the plaintiff. We agree with the plaintiff that this court can provide no practical relief on appeal, and, therefore, we grant the plaintiff's motion to dismiss and dismiss the appeal as moot.

         The following facts are relevant to our resolution of this issue. The defendant and Cielo Christiansen owned real property in Greenwich encumbered by a mortgage

Page 78

that had been assigned to the original plaintiff, Citigroup Global Markets Realty Corporation (Citigroup), as of the commencement of the action. Citigroup brought this action to foreclose its mortgage on the basis of the failure of the defendant and Cielo Christiansen to meet their payment obligations on the underlying note. A default for failure to file a responsive pleading was entered against the defendant.[3]

         On January 20, 2009, the court rendered a judgment of strict foreclosure with a law day of April 7, 2009. The judgment was opened and the law day extended five times over the six years that followed the initial judgment of strict foreclosure as a consequence of five bankruptcy petitions filed by the defendant and Cielo Christiansen. After the bankruptcy court granted the plaintiff's motion for relief from the stay arising from the defendant's most recent bankruptcy petition, the [163 Conn.App. 638] plaintiff moved to open and reenter the judgment of strict foreclosure. The court granted that motion to open on May 26, 2015, rendered a judgment of strict foreclosure, and set a law day of August 25, 2015.

         The defendant filed three consecutive motions to open the judgment and to extend the law day after the May 26, 2015 judgment of strict foreclosure. The court denied all three of those motions to open. The court denied the defendant's first motion to open on August 24, 2015, but the court, sua sponte, opened the judgment and extended the law day to September 29, 2015.[4] The court denied the defendant's second motion to open on September 28, 2015, but the court again, sua sponte, opened the judgment and extended the law day to December 1, 2015. The defendant filed his third motion to open on November 16, 2015, and ...


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