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Taylor v. Wallace

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

August 7, 2018

DAVID TAYLOR
v.
ANTHONY WALLACE

          Argued April 19, 2018

         Procedural History

         Action seeking to recover damages as a result of the defendant's alleged legal malpractice, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland, where the court, Bright, J., granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          David P. Taylor, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).

          Stephen R. Finucane, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were George Jepsen, attorney gen- eral, Jane R. Rosenberg, solicitor general, and Terrence M. O'Neill, assistant attorney general, for the appellee (defendant).

          Alvord, Keller and Beach, Js.

          OPINION

          BEACH, J.

         The plaintiff, David Taylor, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his one count complaint sounding in legal malpractice against the defendant, Anthony Wallace. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in (1) dismissing the complaint; (2) concluding that the plaintiff lacked standing to assert his claim of fraud; and (3) denying the plaintiff's motion for reargument. The defendant claims that the action was not ripe because the underlying conviction had not been vacated. We affirm the judgment.

         The following facts and procedural history are pertinent to our decision. In a previous criminal case, the plaintiff pleaded guilty to murder under the Alford doctrine[1] on September 12, 2001, and was sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment.[2] In the following years, he has brought at least twelve petitions seeking posttrial relief and has included as grounds for the relief claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.[3] The defendant was appointed to represent the plaintiff in one of the habeas proceedings; the representation occurred between February 16, 2011, and January 28, 2014.

         In his present complaint alleging legal malpractice, dated April 18, 2016, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant provided deficient representation and used the plaintiff's name and circumstance to commit fraud against the state. On June 8, 2016, the defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the basis that the plaintiff's claims were barred by statutory immunity. At oral argument on the motion, the defendant claimed additionally that the plaintiff lacked standing to claim that the defendant had defrauded the state. After oral argument, the court granted the motion to dismiss, concluding that the defendant was entitled to statutory immunity as to the plaintiff's legal malpractice claim. The court also addressed the plaintiff's claim that the defendant committed fraud against the state, and concluded that the plaintiff did not have standing to pursue that claim. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

         We begin with generally applicable legal principles. ‘‘[In reviewing] the trial court's decision to grant a motion to dismiss, we take the facts to be those alleged in the complaint, including those facts necessarily implied from the allegations, construing them in a manner most favorable to the pleader. . . . [A] motion to dismiss admits all facts well pleaded and invokes any record that accompanies the motion, including supporting affidavits that contain undisputed facts.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) May v. Coffey, 291 Conn. 106, 108, 967 A.2d 495 (2009).

         ‘‘A determination regarding a trial court's subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law. When . . . the trial court draws conclusions of law, our review is plenary and we must decide whether its conclusions are legally and logically correct and find support in the facts that appear in the record. . . .

         ‘‘Subject matter jurisdiction [implicates] the authority of the court to adjudicate the type of controversy presented by the action before it. . . . [A] court lacks discretion to consider the merits of a case over which it is without jurisdiction . . . . The objection of want of jurisdiction may be made at any time . . . [a]nd the court or tribunal may act on its own motion, and should do so when the lack of jurisdiction is called to its attention. . . . The requirement of subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived by any party and can be raised at any stage in ...


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