April 10, 2018
to recover damages for, inter alia, breach of contract, and
for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the
judicial district of Danbury, where the court, Truglia,
J., granted the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant
Nationwide Insurance Company, and rendered judgment thereon,
and the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.
Kenneth A. Votre, for the appellant (plaintiff).
G. Martineau filed a brief for the appellee (defendant
Nationwide Insurance Company).
Sheldon, Keller and Prescott, Js.
principal issue in this appeal is whether a company that
provided automobile towing services to an insured motorist
has standing as a third-party beneficiary to bring a direct
breach of contract action against the insurance company that
provided automobile liability coverage to the insured. We
conclude, under the circumstances of this case, that the
company is not an intended third-party beneficiary of the
insurance contract and therefore lacks standing to bring a
direct action against the insurer.
plaintiff, Hilario's Truck Center, LLC, appeals from the
judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss
filed by the defendant, Nationwide Insurance Company
(Nationwide), as to counts one and three of the complaint.
Those counts alleged breach of contract on the basis of
Nationwide's refusal to pay for towing services provided
to the defendant Laura Rinaldi. The plaintiff claims on appeal
that the court improperly granted Nationwide's motion to
dismiss because the plaintiff is a third-party beneficiary to
the insurance contract between Nationwide and Rinaldi and
therefore has standing to bring claims directly against
Nationwide for breach of contract.
following facts and procedural history, as recited by the
trial court in its memorandum of decision, are relevant to
the resolution of this appeal. On March 17, 2015, Rinaldi was
involved in a motor vehicle accident on Route 34 in Newtown.
Rinaldi's vehicle left the roadway, traveled over a rock
wall, rolled over, and landed in a wooded area some distance
from the road. Newtown Police responded to the scene and,
shortly thereafter, requested the plaintiff's services to
recover and tow Rinaldi's vehicle. Removal of the vehicle
required a heavy duty wrecker and a flatbed truck. The
plaintiff provided these services, as well as ‘‘a
crush wrap to protect the vehicle'' while it was
towed from the accident scene. The plaintiff submitted
invoices for its towing services to Nationwide. At the time
the court issued its decision, neither defendant had paid the
plaintiff for its services, and Rinaldi's vehicle was
stored on the plaintiff's property.
plaintiff commenced the underlying action against the
defendants to recover for the towing and vehicle recovery
expenses that it incurred as a result of Rinaldi's motor
vehicle accident. The plaintiff brought a three count
complaint. The first count alleges breach of an implied
contract against both defendants. Specifically, the plaintiff
alleges that ‘‘[t]he law implies a contractual
obligation to pay the cost of services rendered on the
automobile owner, '' and that the defendants breached
this implied contract by refusing to pay the plaintiff for
second count sounds in unjust enrichment against Rinaldi. It
alleges that Rinaldi ‘‘received the benefit of
having the vehicle removed from the scene and towed to the
plaintiff's storage facility'' and continues
‘‘to enjoy the benefit of the plaintiff's
recovery, towing and storage services for [her] vehicle
despite not paying the plaintiff just compensation for [its]
services, to the plaintiff's detriment.''
third count alleges breach of contract against Nationwide on
the theory that Nationwide is liable for money damages to the
plaintiff because it is a third-party beneficiary of
Rinaldi's insurance contract with Nationwide. The third
count incorporates by reference the allegations of the first
two counts and further alleges that, despite being properly
notified of the plaintiff's claims for services provided
to Rinaldi, Nationwide wrongfully has refused to pay the
plaintiff's invoice for those services.
response to the complaint, Nationwide filed a motion to
dismiss on the basis that the court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction because the plaintiff did not have standing to
bring claims directly against it. In its memorandum in
support of the motion to dismiss, Nationwide claimed that the
plaintiff lacked standing because it is not a party to the
insurance contract between Nationwide and Rinaldi and neither
party intended to assume a direct obligation to the
plaintiff.Additionally, Nationwide argued that the
contract at issue excludes coverage for towing expenses, and,
therefore, even if the plaintiff had standing to bring an
action pursuant to the contract, Nationwide is not liable for
the cost of the towing services rendered by the plaintiff.
plaintiff filed an objection to the motion and a memorandum
in support of the objection. Following oral argument on the
motion, the court, Truglia, J., granted the motion
to dismiss in a written memorandum of decision. In that
decision, the court concluded that the plaintiff was not a
third-party beneficiary to the contract and, therefore, did
not have standing to sue Nationwide for breach of the
insurance contract. This appeal followed.
plaintiff claims on appeal that the trial court improperly
granted Nationwide's motion to dismiss because the
plaintiff is a third-party beneficiary to the insurance
contract between the defendants and, therefore, ...