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Town of Glastonbury v. Sakon

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

August 28, 2018

TOWN OF GLASTONBURY
v.
JOHN ALAN SAKON ET AL.

          Argued May 17, 2018

         Procedural History

         Action to foreclose municipal tax liens on certain real property owned by the named defendant, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, where the court, Robaina, J., granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to liability only; thereafter, the court, Dubay, J., rendered judgment of foreclosure by sale and awarded attorney's fees to the plaintiff; subsequently, the court, Dubay, J., granted the named defendant's motion to reconsider only as to the issue of attorney's fees; thereafter, the court, Dubay, J., entered an order confirming the initial amount of attorney's fees awarded, and the named defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          John Sakon, self-represented, the appellant (named defendant).

          Latonia C. Williams, with whom was Patrick M. Fahey, for the appellee (plaintiff).

          Bright, Moll and Sullivan, Js.

          OPINION

          SULLIVAN, J.

         In this tax lien foreclosure action, [1] the defendant John Alan Sakon[2] appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the plaintiff's request for attorney's fees and costs. On appeal, the defendant claims that the attorney's fees awarded by the court were excessive and unreasonable. We conclude that the amount of attorney's fees awarded to the plaintiff did not constitute an abuse of discretion and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         This court's recent decision in the same matter, Glastonbury v. Sakon, 172 Conn.App. 646, 161 A.3d 657 (2017) (per curiam), sets forth the following facts: ‘‘The defendant is the record owner of two properties [described in the complaint as the Griswold Street property and the Main Street property, respectively, ] in Glastonbury. The defendant failed to pay the property taxes on his properties for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. As a result, the plaintiff, the town of Glastonbury, assessed tax liens against the defendant's properties for the unpaid real property taxes (tax liens).

         ‘‘On November 6, 2012, the plaintiff commenced this action to foreclose on the 2009, 2010, and 2011 tax liens for the defendant's two properties by filing a two count complaint, in which each count pertained to one of the defendant's two properties. On August 27, 2013, the plaintiff filed a motion for default for failure to plead, which was granted on September 4, 2013. On December 10, 2013, the plaintiff filed a motion for judgment of foreclosure by sale. On December 18, 2013, the defendant filed his answer to the plaintiff's complaint, which contained six special defenses and seven counterclaims (original special defenses and counterclaims). On January 29, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to open the default, which was granted on February 10, 2014. On March 12, 2014, the plaintiff filed a motion to strike the original special defenses and counterclaims (first motion to strike).

         ‘‘On August 13, 2014, the plaintiff filed an amended two count complaint, in which it additionally sought to foreclose on the 2012 and 2013 tax liens for the defendant's two properties and clarified its description of the defendant's properties (operative complaint).

         ‘‘On November 21, 2014, the court, Robaina, J., granted the plaintiff's first motion to strike. On December 10, 2014, the defendant filed a revised motion for reconsideration of the court's order granting the plaintiff's first motion to strike. On December 11, 2014, the defendant filed an amended answer in response to the operative complaint, which contained special defenses and counterclaims that were substantially similar to those raised in his original answer (amended special defenses and counterclaims). On December 24, 2014, the plaintiff filed a motion to strike the defendant's amended special defenses and counterclaims (second motion to strike).

         ‘‘On December 29, 2014, the court denied the defendant's revised motion for reconsideration of the court's order granting the plaintiff's first motion to strike. On January 5 and 6, 2015, and February 4, 2015, the defendant filed motions for extension of time to file a substitute pleading pursuant to Practice Book § 10-44. On February 11, 2015, the defendant filed a substitute answer, in which he raised four special defenses and two counterclaims (substitute special defenses and counterclaims). On March 16, 2015, the court concluded that the second motion to strike [filed on December 24, 2014] was moot because ‘[t]he operative substitute special defenses and counterclaims are those filed on February 11, 2015.'

         ‘‘On March 31, 2015, the plaintiff filed a motion to strike the substitute special defenses and counterclaims (third motion to strike) and a motion for judgment of nonsuit as to the counterclaims. On July 9, 2015, the court, Vacchelli, J., applying the law of the case doctrine, granted the third motion to strike because the substitute special defenses and counterclaims ‘all attempt the exact same challenges previously ruled to be legally insufficient' by the court on November 11, 2014. The court also entered default against the defendant as to ...


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