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Ring v. Litchfield Bancorp

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 18, 2017

MARY ANN RING
v.
LITCHFIELD BANCORP

          Argued Date: April 25, 2017

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Litchfield, J. Moore, J.

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Litchfield, where the court, J. Moore, J., granted the defendant's motion to strike the complaint; thereafter, the court granted the defendant's motion to strike the amended complaint; subsequently, the court granted the defendant's motion for judgment and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Charles F. Brower, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Linda Clifford Hadley, for the appellee (defendant).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Keller and Graham, Js.

         Syllabus

         The plaintiff sought to recover damages from the defendant bank for its alleged violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (§ 42-110 et seq.). The plaintiff had made a $40, 000 payment to C Co. pursuant to an agreement to remediate water damage at the plaintiff's home, and although C Co. failed to provide labor or materials to the plaintiff, it deposited the payment into its account with the defendant. The defendant subsequently exercised its right to a setoff against the funds in C Co.'s bank account and informed C Co.'s owner of the setoff, who responded that certain of the funds in its account belonged to the plaintiff. The defendant refused the plaintiff's demand for the return of the payment she had made to C Co., and the plaintiff brought the present action alleging that the defendant's conduct in offsetting the funds in C Co.'s account that included her payment to C Co. violated the act. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to strike the complaint, concluding that the allegations were insufficient to support the requisite elements of a claim under the act. The court reasoned that, in the absence of a seasonable stop payment order or a designation that the money was being held for the benefit of someone other than C Co., once the plaintiff's payment had been deposited in C Co.'s account, it became the property of C Co. and the defendant could exercise its right to a setoff against those funds. The plaintiff thereafter filed an amended complaint again alleging that the defendant had violated the act by offsetting the funds in C Co.'s account. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to strike the amended complaint. The court recognized that the substance of the plaintiff's claim in the original complaint and the amended complaint was not materially different and concluded that the allegations in the amended complaint continued to be insufficient to support a claim under the act. On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that the trial court erred in concluding that she had failed to plead a cognizable cause of action under the act and striking her amended complaint. The defendant argued on appeal that the plaintiff's claim was waived because her amended complaint was not materially different from the original complaint.

         Held that the plaintiff waived her right to appeal from the trial court's ruling granting the motion to strike her amended complaint, as the amended complaint merely reiterated the claim in her original complaint previously disposed of by the court, and the additional alleged facts did not materially alter the allegations in the original complaint: the new factual allegations in the amended complaint did not correct the deficiencies identified by the trial court when it granted the motion to strike the original complaint, and although there were some differences between the two complaints, those differences primarily pertained to the communications between the defendant and C Co.'s owner after the defendant had exercised its right to a setoff, and did not pertain to how the defendant's actions had violated the act.

          OPINION

          KELLER, J.

         The plaintiff, Mary Ann Ring, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant, Litchfield Bancorp, following the granting of the defendant's motion to strike her amended complaint. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly granted the motion to strike because she sufficiently alleged a cause of action against the defendant for violating the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110 et. seq. We conclude that the plaintiff waived her right to appeal from the granting of the motion to strike the amended complaint. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         As a preliminary matter, we note that ‘‘[i]n ruling on a motion to strike, we take the facts alleged in the complaint as true.'' St. Denis v. de Toledo, 90 Conn.App. 690, 691, 879 A.2d 503, cert. denied, 276 Conn. 907, 884 A.2d 1028 (2005). Here, the allegations include the following facts. Water pipes in the plaintiff's home froze and caused significant water damage to the property. The plaintiff engaged the services of a contractor, Chamberlin Kitchen & Bath, LLC (Chamberlin), [1] to repair her home. On May 23, 2015, Chamberlin presented a proposal for the work to be performed, which estimated that the cost to remediate the water damage would be $84, 636. The plaintiff accepted that proposal.

         After executing a contract with Chamberlin to perform the repairs, the plaintiff made a series of payments to Chamberlin. On June 9, 2015, the plaintiff paid Chamberlin the sum of $10, 000. On June 29, 2015, the plaintiff made another payment of $10, 000 to Chamberlin. Finally, on July 30, 2015, the plaintiff paid Chamberlin the sum of $40, 000. That final payment is the only sum of money in dispute in the present action. ...


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