December 12, 2018
to recover damages for legal malpractice, and for other
relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial
district of New London, where the court, Vacchelli, J.,
granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and
rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed
to this court.
Deroy, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).
Cristin E. Sheehan, with whom, on the brief, was Patrick J.
Day, for the appellees (defendants).
Keller, Elgo and Bright, Js.
legal malpractice action, the self-represented plaintiff,
Aleta Deroy, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by
the trial court in favor of the defendant attorneys, Stephen
M. Reck, Raymond Trebisacci, and Lewis A. Button III. On
appeal, the plaintiff claims, inter alia,  that the court
improperly concluded that expert testimony was necessary to
establish the standard of proper professional skill or care,
and that the failure of the plaintiff to disclose such an
expert required the court to render summary judgment in favor
of the defendants. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff as the nonmoving
party, the record reveals the following facts and procedural
history. In February, 2002, the decedent, Edith Baron, was a
widow with three children: the plaintiff, Jeanne Baron, and
Glen Baron. On February 3 and 12, 2002, the decedent executed
quitclaim deeds conveying her interest in an eightynine acre
farm to herself and to Jeanne Baron as tenants in common. On
February 12, 2002, the decedent executed a will (February
will) devising the entirety of her estate, including her
interest in the farm, to the plaintiff and Glen Baron in
2002, Jeanne Baron's son, Elias Baron, contacted Attorney
Button, with whom he was friends, and told him that the
decedent desired to make a new will. At that time, Attorney
Button was a new lawyer working for Attorney Trebisacci and
Attorney Reck in their law firm, Trebisacci & Reck. The
proposed new will, which was drafted by Attorney Trebisacci,
devised the decedent's interest in the farm to Jeanne
Baron and provided that the residue and remainder of the
estate would be distributed in equal shares to her three
the new will was being drafted, the decedent was exhibiting
symptoms of dementia. Attorney Button, who had not completed
many will executions, was concerned about the decedent's
testamentary capacity and, as a result, he referred her to be
examined by Christopher Tolsdorf, a neuropsychologist. On
June 12, 2002, after evaluating the decedent, Dr. Tolsdorf
authored a report in which he concluded that she was
suffering from dementia. In his report, Dr. Tolsdorf
specifically concluded that ‘‘[g]iven her
cognitive impairments it is unlikely that she would be able
to make fully informed, thoughtful judgments regarding
complex financial or legal issues.'' After reviewing
and discussing Dr. Tolsdorf's report, Attorney Button and
Attorney Trebisacci decided to proceed with the execution of
the decedent's new will.
3, 2002, the decedent went to the office of Trebisacci &
Reck to execute her new will. Attorney Trebisacci was
supposed to preside over the will execution, but he had to
leave the office. He told Attorney Button that if the
decedent arrived at the office before he returned, Attorney
Button should proceed with the will execution in his absence.
When the decedent arrived at the defendants' office,
Attorney Trebisacci had not yet returned. Following Attorney
Trebisacci's instructions, Attorney Button proceeded with
the will execution. During the execution of the new will,
Attorney Button observed that the decedent was
‘‘so confused that the proceedings had to be
halted.'' In light of the fact that Attorney
Trebisacci was not in the office, Attorney Button sought the
assistance of the other partner in the firm, Attorney Reck.
Attorney Reck questioned the decedent about the newly drafted
will, and it was decided that she was to proceed and execute
the will. The decedent executed the new will (July will) on
the same date.
26, 2006, the decedent died. The plaintiff previously had not
been aware of the July will and, thus, she had expected her
inheritance of the farm to be in accordance with the terms of
the February will. The plaintiff subsequently challenged the
July will in the Probate Court on the grounds of undue
influence and lack of testamentary capacity. On November 5,
2008, after a hearing, the Probate Court rejected the
plaintiff's challenge to the July will.
December 4, 2008, the plaintiff filed an appeal from the
decision of the Probate Court to the Superior Court. On
November 3, 2010, after an evidentiary proceeding, the
Superior Court issued an oral decision declaring the July
will ‘‘null and void'' on the basis that
the decedent was ‘‘incompetent'' when she