Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Haven, New Haven
Ellen Kirsten Dahl, Successor Executrix of the Estate of Robert A. Dahl
Sara N.B. Connor, Executrix of the Estate of Ann Sale Dahl Opinion No. 133784
(with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and
Walsh): Lager, Linda K., J.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE ENTRY # 102
K. LAGER, JUDGE
action was brought by the successor executrix of the estate
of Robert Dahl against the executrix of the estate of Ann
Sale Dahl, with a return date of January 12, 2016. The
defendant fiduciary, Sara N.B. Connor (Connor), is a resident
of Fiskdale, Massachusetts, and suit was brought against her
in her representative capacity only. (Count one, ¶ 5.)
The marshal's return of service and supplemental return
(entries 100.30 and 101) indicate that Connor was served
pursuant to General Statutes § 52-59b on December 17,
2015. Counsel filed an appearance for Connor on January 12,
2016 and moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of
lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficiency of process
and service of process on February 10, 2016. (Entries #102,
103.) The plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition on March
21, 2016 (entry #104) to which Connor filed a reply on March
24, 2016 (entry #105). The court heard argument on the motion
to dismiss on March 28, 2016.
maintains that service was improper under the long-arm
statute, General Statutes § 52-59b, because it does not
allow the plaintiff to obtain personal jurisdiction over her
as the nonresident executrix of the estate of Ann Sale Dahl,
a Connecticut resident and domiciliary at the time of her
death, and asserts that the proper means of service was
pursuant to General Statutes § § 52-60 and 52-61.
The plaintiff maintains that § § 52-60 and 52-61
are not the exclusive means of service on a nonresident
executrix and that service was proper under § 52-59b(c).
The plaintiff has the burden of establishing personal
jurisdiction. Knipple v. Viking Communications,
Ltd., 236 Conn. 602, 607, 674 A.2d 426 (1996).
52-60 and 52-61 provide a method for service of
process on nonresident fiduciaries in their representative
capacities. Process is served within this state on the
probate judge or court in the district in which the fiduciary
was appointed and then the judge or court is obliged to
forward the complaint to the fiduciary. At oral argument,
Connor conceded that § § 52-60 and 52-61 are not
necessarily the exclusive means of service on a nonresident
fiduciary of a Connecticut estate if there are valid
alternative means of service. Her position is that the
allegations of this complaint fail to state claims against
her personally as a nonresident individual that satisfy the
predicates set forth in § 52-59b(a) so that she could be
properly served pursuant to § 52-59b(c), which provides
for service on the secretary of state as statutory agent,
leaving service pursuant to § § 52-60 and 52-61 as
the only viable option in this case.
essence of the plaintiff's argument is that Connor is
transacting business within this state within the meaning of
§ 52-59b(a)(1) by serving as the fiduciary of a
Connecticut estate. The plaintiff has not provided any
controlling authority for this proposition and the court
could not locate any.
Gomez v. King, Superior Court, Judicial District of
Ansonia-Milford, Docket No. CV054001863 (Sept. 29, 2005,
Sequino, J.) [40 Conn. L. Rptr. 57], upon which the plaintiff
relies, contains no analysis to support its conclusion that a
nonresident administratrix of the estate of a Connecticut
decedent was properly served under § 52-59b. In reaching
that conclusion, the trial court relied on Anderson v.
Schibi, 33 Conn.Supp. 562, 567, 364 A.2d 853 (App.Div.
1976), which did not address the issue raised here.
Anderson merely held that when a " complaint
clearly alleges a cause of action falling within §
52-59b(a)(2) so that the nonresident defendants are subject
to the jurisdiction of our court, " the manner of
service on a nonresident defendant does not have to be
identical to the manner of service on a resident defendant.
Similarly, in Abney v. Abney, Superior Court,
Judicial District of Waterbury, Docket No. CV155016811 (Nov.
4, 2015, Roraback, J.) [61 Conn. L. Rptr. 223], also relied
on by the plaintiff, the court did not engage in any analysis
but simply relied on Gomez. Furthermore,
Abney is factually distinct from this case as the
plaintiff's complaint alleged claims based on the acts of
the non-resident fiduciary and not based on the acts of the
decedent. Compare Dehmel v. Dehmel, Superior Court,
Judicial District of Waterbury, Docket No. CV145016633 (March
31, 2015, Roraback, J.) (in which the same court analyzed the
allegations against and conduct of a nonresident defendant
closely to determine that the defendant did not have
sufficient contacts within Connecticut to meet any of the
predicates of § 52-59b(a)).
52-59b(a)(1) provides for the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident individual or the executor of
a nonresident individual who " transacts any business
within the state." This phrase has been construed to
require that the activities which give rise to the
plaintiff's claims in the lawsuit " embrace a single
purposeful business transaction." Zartolas v.
Nisenfeld, 184 Conn. 471, 474, 440 A.2d 179 (1981). The
meaning of the term " business" is broad and does
not necessarily require a typical commercial transaction.
Id.; see Doyle Group v. Alaskans for Cuddy,
146 Conn.App. 341, 349-50, 77 A.3d 880 (2013). However, the
litigation has to " arise out of or relate to those
[business] activities." Knipple v. Viking
Communications, Ltd., supra, 236 Conn. 606,
n.6. In deciding this question, the court should not "
resort to a rigid formula. Rather, [it should] balance
considerations of public policy, common sense, and the
chronology and geography of the relevant factors."
Zartolas v. Nisenfeld, supra, 184 Conn.
claims in this complaint are based on the alleged conduct and
activities of the decedent, Ann Sale Dahl, in her capacity as
the executrix of the estate of Robert Dahl for breach of
fiduciary duty (count one), in her capacity as the agent of
Robert Dahl under a durable power of attorney for breach of
fiduciary duty and theft (counts two, three, four) and in her
individual capacity for tortious interference with
expectation of inheritance (count five). The complaint
alleges Ann Sale Dahl made unauthorized financial
transactions in February 2014 (counts one and two) and
December 2013 (count three and four) which resulted in the
unlawful transfer of Robert Dahl's assets to accounts
within her sole control and that after improperly depleting
Robert Dahl's estate she changed the terms of her
revocable trust agreement in June 2014, four months after
Robert Dahl's death, in a way that reduced the ultimate
distribution of funds to Robert Dahl's three biological
children (count five).
Sale Dahl died on January 15, 2015 and Connor was appointed
the executrix of her estate by the Hamden-Bethany Probate
District. (Count one, ¶ ¶ 3, 5.) The claims
described above were filed in that probate action, served on
Connor on July 28, 2015 and were subsequently rejected by
her. (Count one, ¶ ¶ 6, 7.) That is the only
activity which the complaint alleges Connor conducted in
Connecticut. While it is purposeful conduct invoking the
benefits and protections of Connecticut law, General Statutes
§ 45a-360, the record is insufficient for the court to
conclude that it is a business transaction within the broad
meaning of General Statutes § 52-59b(a)(1) and that this
litigation arises out of that business transaction.
Connor disputes the sufficiency of this conduct to support
personal jurisdiction, the court will give the plaintiff an
opportunity to present evidence to meet her burden of proof
of establishing personal jurisdiction over Connor.
Standard Tallow Corp. v. Jowdy, 190 Conn. 48, 459
A.2d 503 (1983). The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m.
on Wednesday June 15, 2016.
General Statutes § 52-60(a) provides,
in relevant part: " No appointment of a nonresident of
this state as an executor . . . may take effect until the
person so appointed has filed . . . a certificate . . .
appointing the judge of probate and the judge's successor
in office to be his attorney upon whom all process in any