NOVA BENEFIT PLANS, LLC, ET AL.
MORTGAGES UNLIMITED, INC., ET AL.
December 10, 2018
to vacate an arbitration award, brought to the Superior Court
in the judicial district of Hartford, where the named
defendant and the defendant James J. Benincasa et al. filed
separate motions to confirm the award; thereafter, the matter
was tried to the court, Noble, J.; judgment
denying the application to vacate and granting the motions to
confirm, from which the plaintiffs appealed to this court.
J. Krisch, with whom were Logan A. Car-ducci and, on the
brief, Daniel P. Scapellati, for the appellants (plaintiffs).
S. Edrich, for the appellee (named defendant).
J. Kallenbach, with whom was Jerome Patger, for the appellees
(defendant James J. Benincasa et al.).
Lavine, Alvord and Prescott, Js.
plaintiffs, Nova Benefit Plans, LLC, for the Grist Mill
Trust, Benistar 419 Plan Services, Inc., for Benistar 419
Plan and Trust, Benistar Admin Services, Inc., and Daniel
Carpenter appeal from the judgment of the trial court denying
their application to vacate and confirming an arbitration
award in favor of the defendants, James J. Benincasa, Jody L.
Benincasa, and Mortgages Unlimited, Inc. The plaintiffs claim
on appeal that the trial court improperly confirmed the award
that was predicated on a prior related arbitration award,
which, the plaintiffs argue, constituted a manifest disregard
of the law. This court determined in Benistar Employer
Services Trust Co. v. Benincasa, 189 Conn.App.,
A.3d (2019), also released today, that the prior arbitration
award did not constitute a manifest disregard of the law. We,
therefore, affirm the judgment of the trial court.
following undisputed facts, as articulated by the arbitrator,
and procedural history are relevant to this appeal.
‘‘In [November], 2007, [James J. Benincasa and
Jody L. Benincasa (Benincasas)] filed a demand for
arbitration (‘2007 arbitration') against [Benistar
419 Plan Services, Inc., Benistar Admin Services, Inc., The
Grist Mill Trust Welfare Benefit Plan, and Benistar Employer
Services Trust Company (Benistar respondents)]. The 2007
arbitration was decided by Arbitrator Jeffrey G. Stein on May
15, 2013, and found that the [Benistar respondents] breached
their contractual obligations and were jointly and severally
liable to pay the [Benincasas] for the actual costs they
incurred on the transfer of certain life insurance policies
to themselves by the Grist Mill Trust.
or about March 4, 2013, [the plaintiffs in the present case]
filed a separate demand for arbitration, seeking an award for
breach of contract, indemnification, vexatious litigation,
unjust enrichment and fraud or negligent misrepresentation .
. . .
is not disputed that the several agreements and related
transactions that form the basis for the instant arbitration
claims are the same agreements and transactions that were the
basis for the claims in the 2007 arbitration. In his final
award, [Stein] stated that although he had not seen [the
plaintiffs'] new arbitration demand, he ‘carefully
reviewed all the documents signed by the parties' and
that ‘all of these provisions are certainly entered
into evidence before me, and I cannot determine the relative
responsibilities of the parties without reviewing them.'
. . . Stein stated that the [Benistar respondents] . . .
focused ‘on the provisions of the documents that they
believed exculpated them from responsibility.' Those same
exculpatory provisions form the basis for the contractual
claims in this arbitration, and [the plaintiffs']
contention that [the defendants] failed to abide by those
exculpatory provisions and other contractual provisions forms
the basis for their . . . claims.'' (Footnotes
August 19, 2013, Arbitrator William F. Chandler granted the
defendants' motions to dismiss the arbitration action for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that the 2007
arbitration precluded the present arbitration. On September
13, 2013, the plaintiffs filed an application to vacate the
award, and the defendants filed separate motions to confirm
the award on November 13, 2013. On February 8, 2017, the
trial court denied the plaintiffs' application to vacate
and confirmed the arbitration award. The plaintiffs appealed.
2007 arbitration award, upon which the present arbitration
award is predicated, was confirmed by the trial court. The
plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, this court affirmed the
judgment of the trial court, rejecting the claim that the
2007 award was predicated on a manifest disregard of the ...