April 4, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, Hon.
John C. Flanagan, judge trial referee [judgment]; Frechette,
J. [motion to open judgment].
D. Hughes, for the appellant (named defendant).
F. Carter, for the appellee (plaintiff).
Keller, Prescott and Cremins, Js.
defendant Zeynullah Yeroz appeals from the trial
court’s denial of his motion to open the judgment,
rendered after a hearing in damages, awarding the plaintiff,
Juan Guzman, compensatory and statutory damages for personal
injuries that Guzman suffered while employed in a pizza
restaurant owned and operated by the defendant. We affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
following facts and procedural history are relevant to this
appeal. The plaintiff sustained a serious laceration and
permanent injury to his left hand while working for the
defendant in the defendant’s restaurant. Because the
defendant did not have workers’ compensation insurance,
the plaintiff brought this action against the defendant
pursuant to General Statutes § 31-284 (b). The
plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the defendant failed
to provide a reasonably safe work environment and that his
employment was terminated unlawfully by the defendant in
retaliation for the plaintiff’s attempt to exercise his
rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act (act),
General Statutes § 31-275 et seq. See General Statutes
§ 31-290a. The plaintiff sought compensatory damages for
his injuries and punitive damages for the defendant’s
violation of § 31-290a.
defendant, who was served ‘‘in hand’’
with the summons and complaint, was subsequently defaulted
for failure to appear. The court, Hon. John C. Flanagan,
judge trial referee, conducted a hearing in damages, at which
the defendant also did not appear. Following the hearing, the
court, in a written memorandum of decision, awarded the
plaintiff $287, 570 in compensatory damages, and $96, 500 in
punitive damages for the defendant’s wilful violation
of the act. The court awarded the plaintiff a total of $386,
Judgment entered accordingly on June 23, 2014.
August 6, 2014, forty-four days after judgment was rendered,
the defendant first appeared in this action and moved to open
the judgment. In his motion to open, the defendant asserted
that he never had been served with the complaint, and, thus,
he was prevented from defending the action ‘‘by
[reason of] mistake, accident or other reasonable cause . . .
.’’ General Statutes § 52-212.
November 5, 2014, the court, Frechette, J., denied
the defendant’s motion to open. The court concluded,
after an evidentiary hearing, that the defendant’s
testimony that he lacked knowledge of this action and was
never served with process was not credible.
November 24, 2014, the defendant filed this appeal. Despite
the fact that the twenty day period in which to appeal from
the judgment on the complaint had expired on July 14, 2014;
see Practice Book § 63-1 (a); and the defendant’s
motion to open the judgment was not filed within that period;
see Practice Book § 63-1 (c) (1); Worth v.
Korta, 132 Conn.App. 154, 158-59, 31 A.3d 804
(2011), cert. denied, 304 Conn. 905, 38 A.3d 1201 (2012); the
defendant’s appeal form indicates that he is attempting
to appeal from both the original judgment and the denial of
the motion to open. The plaintiff, however, did not move to
dismiss that portion of the appeal challenging the merits of
the underlying judgment.
preliminary statement of the issues and his brief on appeal,
the defendant has not raised any challenge to the
court’s denial of the motion to open. Instead, the
defendant’s claims on appeal address only the merits of
the underlying judgment. Specifically, the defendant claims
in his brief that the trial court (1) improperly found that
the plaintiff suffered a permanent disability to his left
hand because the expert report admitted at the hearing in
damages states that the injury was to the plaintiff’s
right hand, (2) awarded excessive non-economic damages, and
(3) improperly construed the act to permit an award of
punitive damages under the circumstances of this case.
oral argument before this court, we ordered the parties to
file simultaneous supplemental briefs addressing two
questions: ‘‘Should this court review the merits
of the underlying judgment rendered after a hearing in
damages when the appellant did not file a motion to open or a
direct appeal within twenty days of the date the court issued
notice of its judgment on June 23, 2014? (See Dziedzic
v.Pine Island Marina, LLC, 143 Conn.App. 644,
651, [72 A.3d 406] ; Practice Book § 63-1 [b] and
[c] )’’; and ‘‘If we conclude the
appellant’s claims are reviewable, since he ...