A BETTER WAY WHOLESALE AUTOS, INC.
May 29, 2018
to vacate an arbitration award, brought to the Superior Court
in the judicial district of Waterbury, where the defendant
filed a motion to confirm the award; thereafter, the matter
was tried to the court, M. Taylor, J.; judgment
denying the application to vacate and granting the motion to
confirm, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court.
Kenneth A. Votre, for the appellant (plaintiff).
Richard F. Wareing, withwhom was Daniel S. Blinn, for the
DiPentima, C. J., and Moll and Harper, Js.
plaintiff, A Better Way Wholesale Autos, Inc., appeals from
the judgment of the trial court denying its application to
vacate an arbitration award and granting the motion to
confirm that award in favor of the defendant, Shannon Gause.
The plaintiff claims that the court erred because the
arbitrator's award of punitive damages constituted a
manifest disregard of the law pursuant to General Statutes
§ 52-418 (a) (4). We affirm the judgment of the court.
record reveals the following undisputed facts. The
arbitration arose from the defendant's March 8, 2014
purchase of a 2004 Cadillac SRX automobile from the
plaintiff, an automotive dealer engaged in selling used cars.
After purchasing the vehicle, the defendant discovered that
the plaintiff had failed to disclose that the vehicle was a
manufacturer buyback. Upon this discovery, the defendant
requested copies of the purchase order from the plaintiff but
was denied. Subsequently, the defendant was forced to spend
additional money to repair the vehicle's defects.
defendant brought an arbitration claim against the plaintiff
on May 6, 2016, alleging violations of numerous state and
federal laws in connection with the sale. In his decision,
the arbitrator found that the vehicle did not have a
windshield sticker or any other conspicuous display
disclosing the vehicle's status as a manufacturer
buyback, as required by General Statutes § 42-179 (g)
(1) and § 42-179-9 of the Regulations of Connecticut
State Agencies. The arbitrator also found that the purchase
order for the vehicle failed to clearly and conspicuously
disclose the vehicle's status as a manufacturer buyback,
also required by § 42-179 (g) (1) and § 42-179-9 of
the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies. On the basis
of these findings, as well as identifying a Federal Trade
Commission violation and other defects, the arbitrator
concluded that the plaintiff had violated the Connecticut
Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), specifically General
Statutes § 42-110b (c). The arbitrator awarded the
defendant $1279 in compensatory damages, $5000 in punitive
damages,  and $10, 817.02 in attorney's fees and
costs, amounting to a total award of $17, 096.02.
plaintiff subsequently filed an application to vacate and the
defendant filed a motion to confirm the award with the
Superior Court. In a memorandum of decision dated December
30, 2016, the court found that the factual and legal
allegations the defendant made in her arbitration submission
supported the award. The court determined that the
arbitrator's decision did not ‘‘represent an
egregious mis performance of duty or a patently irrational
application of legal principles.'' Accordingly, the
court concluded that there was no manifest disregard of the
law and, subsequently, granted the defendant's motion to
confirm the arbitration award and denied the plaintiff's
application to vacate. This appeal followed.
turning to the merits of the appeal, we must first address
the defendant's claim that this appeal is moot because
the plaintiff failed to oppose her motion to confirm the
award. We reject this argument. ‘‘It is a
well-settled general rule that the existence of an actual
controversy is an essential requisite to appellate
jurisdiction; it is not the province of appellate courts to
decide moot questions, disconnected from the granting of
actual relief or from the determination of which no practical
relief can follow.'' (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) Shays v. Local Grievance Committee, 197
Conn. 566, 571, 499 A.2d 1158 (1985).
Statutes § 52-417 provides that in ruling on an
application to confirm an arbitration award, the court or
judge shall grant such an order confirming the award unless
the award is vacated, modified or corrected as prescribed in
[General Statutes §§ 52-418 and 52-419. . . . The
trial court lacks any discretion in confirming the
arbitration award, unless the award suffers from any of the
defects described in . . . §§ 52-418 and
52-419.'' (Emphasis omitted; footnotes omitted;
internal quotation marks omitted.) Amalgamated Transit
Union Local 1588 v. Laidlaw Transit, Inc., 33 Conn.App.
1, 3-4, 632 A.2d 713 (1993); see also General Statutes
§§ 52-418 and 52-419. The plaintiff commenced this
special statutory proceeding by filing an application to
vacate pursuant to § 52-418 prior to the defendant's
filing her motion to confirm. The motion to confirm would
have been denied had the application to vacate been granted.
Thus, the plaintiff could obtain practical relief through a
reversal of the court's decision denying the application
to vacate. Accordingly, the plaintiff's claim is not
to the plaintiff's claim that the arbitrator's award
of punitive damages constituted a manifest disregard of the
law pursuant to § 52-418 (a) (4). The arbitration
in this case was an unrestricted submission. Of the three
grounds that our Supreme Court has recognized for vacating an
award based on an unrestricted submission, the plaintiff
argues only that ‘‘the award contravenes one or