Date: January 11, 2017
from Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk,
Hon. A. William Mottolese, judge trial referee.
to foreclose a mortgage on certain real property owned by the
named defendant, brought to the Superior Court in the
judicial district of Stamford-Nor-walk, where the defendants
JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., et al., were defaulted for
failure to appear; thereafter, the defendant Webster Bank was
defaulted for failure to plead; subsequently, the court,
Hon. A. William Mottolese, judge trial referee,
granted the plaintiff's motion for a judgment of strict
foreclosure and rendered judgment thereon, from which the
named defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.
Moss, for the appellant (named defendant).
Stephen I. Hansen, for the appellee (plaintiff).
Keller, Mullins and Harper, Js.
to the rule of practice (§ 23-18 [a]),
‘‘[i]n any action to foreclose a mortgage where
no defense as to the amount of the mortgage debt is
interposed, such debt may be proved by presenting to the
judicial authority the original note and mortgage, together
with the affidavit of the plaintiff or other person familiar
with the indebtedness . . . .''
plaintiff sought to foreclose a mortgage on certain of the
defendant's real property after the defendant had
defaulted on a promissory note. In the defendant's
answer, he denied the debt was in default and averred
insufficient knowledge to admit or deny the alleged amount of
the debt and left the plaintiff to its proof. At trial,
pursuant to § 23-18 (a), the plaintiff submitted two
affidavits of debt to establish the amount of the debt owed.
The defendant objected that § 23-18 (a) did not apply
because he had put forth a defense implicating the amount of
the debt. The trial court considered one of the affidavits to
establish the amount of the debt, determined the debt to be
$3, 268, 499.34, and rendered a judgment of strict
foreclosure, from which the defendant appealed to this court.
On appeal, the defendant claimed that the trial court erred
in admitting the affidavit of debt into evidence under §
23-18 (a) because he disputed the amount of the debt via his
answer that contained responses that were sufficient to bar
the affidavit's admission, and thus the affidavit was
inadmissible hearsay evidence that deprived the defendant of
his right to cross-examine witnesses on the amount of the
Contrary to the parties' claims that the abuse of
discretion standard of review applied to this case, this
court clarified that in claims involving an affidavit of debt
admitted under § 23-18 (a), the appropriate standard is
plenary review; the defendant's claim that the trial
court erred in determining that § 23-18 (a) applied is
properly characterized as challenging the trial court's
determination that an exception to the general prohibition of
hearsay applies, and whether an exception to the hearsay rule
applies is a question of law over which this court's
review is plenary.
trial court did not err in admitting the affidavit into
evidence and determining that § 23-18 (a) applied, as
the defendant never raised any defense to the amount of the
debt sufficient to prohibit the admission of affidavits of
debt under that rule of practice; a defense challenging the
amount of a debt must be actively made, and the defense must
be squarely focused on the amount of the debt rather than
other ancillary matters, such as whether the loan is in
default, and the defendant's proffered challenges here
that he had insufficient knowledge to admit or deny the
amount of the debt and that the debt was not in default did
not amount to defenses as to the amount of the debt.
appeal from a judgment of strict foreclosure after a trial,
the defendant, Steven Chainani,  challenges the applicability
of Practice Book § 23-18 (a),  under which the plaintiff,
Bank of America, N.A.,  was permitted to establish the amount
of the debt at issue via an affidavit of debt, rather than
through the presentation of live testimony from witnesses.
The defendant's arguments implicate two affidavits that
were admitted at separate hearings; however, his claims
attack only the use of these affidavits to the extent they
were used to establish the amount of the debt, for which the
court used only the second affidavit. The relevant affidavit was
admitted at a hearing to determine the form of the judgment
and was used to determine the amount of the debt pursuant to
§ 23-18 (a). The defendant argues that the trial court
erred because § 23-18 (a) was not applicable to this
case. He asserts that this was not harmless error ...