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Profetto v. Lombardi

Appellate Court of Connecticut

April 19, 2016

MARGARET PROFETTO
v.
CURTIS W. LOMBARDI

         Argued February 17, 2016.

          Action to foreclose a judgment lien on certain real property owned by the defendant, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain, where the defendant filed a counterclaim; thereafter, the court, Abrams, J., denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; subsequently, the court, Abrams, J., issued an articulation of its decision; thereafter, the matter was tried to the court, Hon. Lois Tanzer, judge trial referee; subsequently, the court, Hon. Lois Tanzer, judge trial referee, sua sponte, determined that it had subject matter jurisdiction; judgment of foreclosure by sale and judgment for the plaintiff on the counterclaim, from which the defendant appealed to this court, which dismissed the appeal; thereafter, this court granted the defendant's motion for reconsideration and reinstated the appeal.

          SYLLABUS

         The defendant appealed to this court from the judgment of foreclosure by sale of a judgment lien that had been placed on his property by the plaintiff to secure an order in the parties' prior dissolution judgment. In the dissolution judgment, the court had ordered the defendant to repay the plaintiff with interest for certain loans that she made to him during the marriage. Neither child support nor alimony was awarded to either party. To secure the repayment of the loans, the plaintiff filed in the land records a certificate of judgment lien against the defendant's property and, when the judgment remained unpaid, the plaintiff commenced the present foreclosure action. The trial court concluded that it had subject matter jurisdiction over the action, that the judgment was not a " family support judgment" as that term is defined by statute (§ 52-350a [7]), but rather was a " money judgment," which is defined in § 52-350a (13) as an order for the payment of a sum of money excluding family support judgments. The court further concluded that the judgment could be enforced pursuant to the statute (§ 52-350f) providing that a money judgment may be enforced by the foreclosure of a real property lien on any nonexempt property of the judgment debtor. The trial court rendered judgment of foreclosure by sale, and the defendant claimed on appeal that the order in the dissolution judgment was a family support judgment that could not be enforced pursuant to § 52-350f. Held that the trial court properly determined that it had jurisdiction over the foreclosure action because the order to repay the loan made by the plaintiff to the defendant during the parties' marriage fell squarely within the definition of a money judgment, which was therefore subject to enforcement by the foreclosure of the judgment lien under § 52-350f; contrary to the defendant's claim, the fact that the order was issued during the course of the parties' dissolution proceeding did not automatically make such a ruling a family support judgment.

         Curtis W. Lombardi, self-represented, the appellant (defendant).

         Irving H. Perlmutter, with whom, on the brief, was Andrew M. Ullman, for the appellee (plaintiff).

         Gruendel, Alvord and Prescott, Js.[*]

          OPINION

          [164 Conn.App. 660] PER CURIAM.

          The defendant, Curtis W. Lombardi, appeals from the trial court's judgment of foreclosure by sale of a judgment lien that had been placed on the defendant's residential property by the plaintiff, Margaret Profetto.[1] The purpose of the judgment lien was to secure the order of the court, Burke, J., contained in the parties' dissolution judgment, that required the defendant to pay the plaintiff $72,172.31 plus interest at the rate of 6 percent from the date of that judgment. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court should have concluded that the foreclosure of a judgment lien was " not the appropriate vehicle to enforce a family support judgment" in a dissolution action. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The court dissolved the parties' three year marriage on October 4, 2013. In the judgment of dissolution, the court concluded that an award of alimony to either party was not appropriate due to the relatively short duration of the marriage. There were no children issue of the marriage. The court entered orders with respect to, inter alia, the parties' personal property and their responsibility for existing debts. The court also entered the following order regarding the defendant's obligation to repay the plaintiff for certain loans she had made to him during the marriage, as [164 Conn.App. 661] evidenced by promissory notes: " [T]he [defendant] shall transfer to the [plaintiff] the amount of $72,172.31 with postjudgment interest of six (6%) percent accruing as of the date of this judgment . . . ."

         On October 23, 2013, to secure the payment of that judgment, the plaintiff filed in the land records a certificate of judgment lien against the defendant's real property located at 106 Treble Road in Bristol.[2] The property is the defendant's residence. Because the judgment had not been paid in whole or in part, the plaintiff commenced the present foreclosure action on December 5, 2013. Although the defendant did not file a motion to dismiss the action, the court, Hon. Lois Tanzer, judge trial referee, acknowledged and addressed his challenge to the court's jurisdiction over the foreclosure action in a memorandum of decision issued on February 18, 2015. The defendant had claimed that the foreclosure of a judgment lien was permitted for " money judgments" only, and that the court's order in the dissolution judgment was not a " money judgment." [3] The court determined that the order at issue was not alimony or any other type of " family support judgment," [4] but, rather, was a judgment for a sum certain[5] with interest and [164 Conn.App. 662] therefore a " money judgment." Accordingly, the court concluded that the judgment could be enforced by the foreclosure of a judgment lien pursuant to General Statutes § 52-350f,[6] that the court had subject matter jurisdiction over the parties' controversy, and that the trial was to continue as scheduled. Following a two day trial, the court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff on March 5, 2015, and ordered a foreclosure by sale of the judgment lien. This appeal followed.

         The sole issue in this appeal is whether the court's order in the dissolution judgment that required the defendant to pay the plaintiff $72,172.31 plus interest was a money judgment subject to enforcement by the foreclosure of a judgment lien, or a family support judgment that was not subject to enforcement pursuant to the postjudgment procedures detailed in chapter 906 of the General Statutes. The trial court concluded that the order requiring the repayment of $72,172.31 plus interest, which was a debt that arose from loans made between the parties during the marriage, was a money judgment and not a family support judgment. We agree.

         The defendant's claim on appeal is a question of subject matter jurisdiction that raises a matter of statutory interpretation. See LoRicco Towers Condominium Assn. v. Patani, 90 Conn.App. 43, 48-49, 876 A.2d 1211, cert. denied, 276 Conn. 925, 888 A.2d 93 (2005). " Issues of statutory construction raise questions of law, over which we exercise plenary review. . . . The process [164 Conn.App. 663] of statutory interpretation involves the determination of the meaning of the statutory language as applied to the facts of the case, including the question of whether the language does so apply." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Felician Sisters of St. Francis of Connecticut, Inc. v. Historic District Commission, 284 Conn. 838, 847, 937 A.2d 39 (2008).

          " When construing a statute, [o]ur fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the legislature. . . . In seeking to determine that meaning, General Statutes § 1-2z directs us first to consider the text of the statute itself and its relationship to other statutes. If, after examining such text and considering such relationship, the meaning of such text is plain and unambiguous and does not yield absurd or unworkable results, extratextual evidence of the meaning of the statute shall not be considered." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Alvord Investment, LLC v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 282 Conn. 393, 401-402, 920 A.2d 1000 (2007). " The test to determine ambiguity is whether the statute, when ...


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