Date: January 6, 2017
from Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, Gould,
J. [judgment]; Goodrow, J. [motion to open].
Cimino, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).
Christopher T. Goulden, with whom, on the brief, were Janis
M. Laliberte and Margaret Sullivan, for the appellee
DiPentima, C. J., and Prescott and Beach, Js.
DiPENTIMA, C. J.
plaintiff, Gina Cimino, appeals from the judgment of the
trial court denying her motion to open and vacate the
judgment dissolving her marriage to the defendant, Joseph
Cimino. On appeal, she argues that (1) the dissolution court
committed plain error in its valuation of the defendant's
pension and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in
denying her motion to open the judgment. We decline to
address the claim that the dissolution court committed plain
error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.
previous decision of this court, we set forth the following
facts. ‘‘In a memorandum of decision dated July
25, 2013, the [dissolution] court found [that] . . . [t]he
parties' twenty-nine year marriage had broken down
irretrievably and neither party was more at fault than the
other for the breakdown. The plaintiff was fifty-four years
old, in reasonably good health, and a college graduate with a
Master's degree in business administration. The parties
stipulated the plaintiff's earning capacity to be $37,
000 per year. Although she had not worked outside of the home
since 1990, the plaintiff had a business making wreaths and
defendant has been employed by the Internal Revenue Service
for thirty years and, at the time of trial, earned $119, 548
per year. At the time of the memorandum of decision, the
defendant had a thrift savings plan with a balance of $124,
377.16 and a [pension], in lieu of social security, in the
amount of $147, 000. . . .
court . . . ordered the defendant to pay alimony in the
amount of $600 per week for a period of ten years to the
plaintiff. The plaintiff was awarded the thrift savings plan
valued at approximately $124, 000 and an individual
retirement account valued at $11, 216. The defendant was
awarded the [pension] fund.'' Cimino v.
Cimino, 155 Conn.App. 298, 299-300, 109 A.3d 546, cert.
denied, 316 Conn. 912, 111 A.3d 886 (2015).
August 3, 2015, the plaintiff filed a motion to open and
vacate the July 25, 2013 dissolution judgment on the bases of
fraud, intentional misrepresentation and/ or mutual
mistake. She argued, inter alia, that the defendant
had provided only the value of his contributions to the
pension, approximately $147, 000, rather than its actual
value, which was substantially higher, and that the
defendant had failed to disclose approximately $50, 000 in
gifts from his family. The plaintiff sought to conduct
postjudgment discovery pursuant to our decision in
Oneglia v. Oneglia, 14 Conn.App. 267, 540 A.2d 713
(1988), and sought an order vacating the judgment on the
basis of either fraud or mutual mistake, and any other
equitable relief. The defendant filed an opposition to the
motion to open on September 16, 2015.
trial court held a hearing on November 20, 2015.
Approximately three weeks later, the court issued a
memorandum of decision denying the plaintiff's motion to
open. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set
forth as necessary.
addressing the specific claims of the plaintiff, we set forth
our standard of review and the relevant legal principles.
‘‘Our review of a court's denial of a motion
to open [based on fraud] is well settled. We do not undertake
a plenary review of the merits of a decision of the trial
court . . . to deny a motion to open a judgment. . . . In an
appeal from a denial of a motion to open a judgment, our
review is limited to the issue of whether the trial court has
acted unreasonably and in clear abuse of its discretion. . .
. In determining whether the trial court abused its
discretion, this court must make every reasonable presumption
in favor of its action. . . . The manner in which [this]
discretion is exercised will not be disturbed so long as the
court could reasonably conclude as it did. . . .
considering a motion to open the judgment on the basis of
fraud, then, the trial court must first determine whether
there is probable cause to open the judgment for the limited
purpose of proceeding with discovery related to the fraud
claim. . . . This preliminary hearing is not intended to be a
full scale trial on the merits of the [moving party's]
claim. The [moving party] does not have to establish that he
will prevail, only that there is probable cause to sustain
the validity of the claim. . . . If the moving party
demonstrates to the court that there is probable cause to
believe that the judgment was obtained by fraud, the court
may permit discovery.'' (Internal quotation marks