Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Rice Spice Noodles, Inc.

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Hartford, Hartford

August 17, 2016

State of Connecticut, Commissioner of Labor
v.
Rice Spice Noodles, Inc. et al

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION TO STRIKE (#144)

          Cesar A. Noble, J.

         In this action the plaintiff, State of Connecticut, Commissioner of Labor, asserts an unpaid wage claim on behalf of Eric Goodman, pursuant to General Statutes § 31-72, [1] against the defendants, Rice Spice Noodles, Inc., Joshua Feldman, and Jutharat Feldman.[2] On April 19, 2016, Jutharat Feldman filed an answer and three special defenses. The first special defense alleges that if a contractual agreement ever existed between Goodman and Rice Spice Noodles, Inc., Goodman failed to mitigate damages when he continued to work knowing he could not expect payment. The second special defense alleges that if a contract existed with Goodman it was unconscionable because Jutharat Feldman would have never agreed to the terms. The third special defense alleges that any contract that existed lacked consideration on the part of Goodman as he provided no services or consideration. On June 2, 2016, the plaintiff filed a motion to strike Jutharat Feldman's special defenses and a memorandum of law. On July 21, 2016, Jutharat Feldman filed an opposition to the plaintiff's motion to strike. On July 27, 2016, the plaintiff filed a reply to Jutharat Feldman's opposition, and thereafter on August 8, 2016, Jutharat Feldman filed a surreply to the plaintiff's reply. The matter was heard at short calendar, at which Jutharat Feldman failed to appear, on August 15, 2016.

         " Generally speaking, facts must be pleaded as a special defense when they are consistent with the allegations of the complaint but demonstrate, nonetheless, that the plaintiff has no cause of action . . . The fundamental purpose of a special defense, like other pleadings, is to apprise the court and opposing counsel of the issues to be tried, so that basic issues are not concealed until the trial is underway . . . Whether facts must be specially pleaded . . . depends on the nature of those facts in relation to the contested issues." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Almada v. Wausau Business Ins. Co., 274 Conn. 449, 456, 876 A.2d 535 (2005). " In ruling on a motion to strike, the [trial] court must accept as true the facts alleged in the special defenses and construe them in the manner most favorable to sustaining their legal sufficiency." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Doe v. Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., 317 Conn. 357, 398, 119 A.3d 462 (2015). " On the other hand, the total absence of any factual allegations specific to the dispute renders [the special defense] legally insufficient." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Smith v. Jackson, Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Docket No. CV-14-6024411-S (August 21, 2015, Roraback, J.) (60 Conn.L.Rptr. 864, 865, ).

         The plaintiff moves to strike all three special defenses on the grounds that they fail to allege any facts consistent with the statutory wage enforcement action brought and merely provide conclusory statements. Jutharat Feldman counters that when read in combination with his cross claim, the alleged underlying employment agreement is unenforceable and the plaintiff should have filed a request to revise as the motion to strike does not contest the legal sufficiency of his special defenses, rather it complains about lack of evidence and facts not alleged. The court agrees with the plaintiff, and for the reasons discussed below, grants the plaintiff's motion to strike.

         In the present case, all three special defenses are predicated on a contractual agreement between the defendants and Goodman, however, there are no allegations of a contract in the plaintiff's complaint. Jutharat Feldman's special defenses also refer to Goodman, the employee for whom the plaintiff has filed this suit, who is not a party to this action. Therefore, Jutharat Feldman's special defenses are inconsistent with the allegations of the complaint. See State v. Bednaz Excavating, Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Docket No. CV-06-4020338-S, (October 24, 2006, Wiese, J.) (striking special defense of estoppel because the theory was directed " to employees on behalf of whom the plaintiff commissioner of labor has filed this suit" and the plaintiff commissioner of labor cannot be estopped by conduct of any person not his agent). Furthermore, the second and third special defenses are mere legal conclusions which fail to allege any facts, never mind facts consistent with the allegations of the complaint, and therefore are legally insufficient. Fort Trumbull Conservancy, LLC v. Alves, 262 Conn. 480, 498, 815 A.2d 1188 (2003) (" A motion to strike is properly granted if the complaint alleges mere conclusions of law that are unsupported by the facts alleged." [Internal quotation marks omitted.])

         For the foregoing reasons, the plaintiff's motion to strike is granted.

---------

Notes:

[1]General Statutes § 31-72 provides in relevant part: " The Labor Commissioner may collect the full amount of any such unpaid wages, payments due to an employee welfare fund or such arbitration award, as well as interest calculated in accordance with the provisions of section 31-265 from the date the wages or payment should have been received, had payment been made in a timely manner. In addition, the Labor Commissioner may bring any legal action necessary to recover twice the full amount of unpaid wages, payments due to an employee welfare fund or arbitration award, and the employer shall be required to pay the costs and such reasonable attorneys fees as may be allowed by the court. The commissioner shall distribute any wages, arbitration awards or payments due to an employee welfare fund collected pursuant to this section to the appropriate person."

[2]Joshua Feldman is the owner and secretary of Rice Spice Noodles, Inc. and Jutharat Feldman is the owner and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.