BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.
DAVID GROGINS, EXECUTOR (ESTATE OF ANNA S.GROGINS), ET AL.
December 6, 2019
to foreclose a mortgage on certain real property owned by the
named defendant et al., and for other relief, brought to the
Superior Court in the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk,
where the defendant Malcolm L. Grogins, trustee of the Susan
Grogins Trust, et al. were defaulted for failure to appear;
thereafter, the named defendant et al. were defaulted for
failure to disclose a defense; subsequently, the court,
Mintz, J., granted the plaintiff's motion for a judgment
of strict foreclosure and rendered judgment thereon;
thereafter, U.S. Bank Trust, N.A., was substituted as the
plaintiff; subsequently, the court, Hon. Kevin Tierney, judge
trial referee, denied the motion to open the judgment of
strict foreclosure filed by the named defendant et al., and
the named defendant et al. appealed to this court. Affirmed.
Ridgely Whitmore Brown, with whom, on the brief, was Benjamin
Gershberg, for the appellants (named defendant et al.).
J. Wichowski, for the appellee (substitute plaintiff).
DiPentima, C. J., and Sheldon and Pellegrino, Js.
DiPENTIMA, C. J.
foreclosure action, the defendants, David Grogins, executor
of the estate of Anna S. Grogins, and David Grogins and
Malcolm L. Grogins, trustees of the Susan Grogins Trust,
appeal from the trial court's denial of their motion to
open the judgment of strict foreclosure rendered in favor of
the substitute plaintiff, U.S. Bank Trust, N.A., as trustee
for LSF9 Master Participation Trust. On appeal, the defendants
argue that the court abused its discretion in denying their
motion to open because the court improperly applied the
procedural requirements set forth in General Statutes §
52-212 and, in so doing, erroneously found that
there was no good cause to open the judgment of strict
foreclosure. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
following facts and procedural history are relevant to this
appeal. On July 30, 2014, Bank of America, N.A., as the
original plaintiff, commenced this action against the
defendants. According to the allegations in the complaint,
the decedent, Anna S. Grogins, ‘‘owed Countrywide
Bank, FSB [Countrywide] $625, 250, as evidenced by a
promissory note for said sum, '' dated July 19, 2007.
The note was secured by a mortgage on the premises known as
21 River Ridge Court in Stamford. The mortgagee was
identified as Mortgage Electronic Registration, Inc., as
nominee for Countrywide. On November 5, 2009, this mortgage
was assigned to BAC Home Loan Servicing, LP (BAC), which Bank
of America, N.A., subsequently acquired. Prior to Anna S.
Grogins' death, the note and mortgage were in default for
nonpayment of the principal and interest due on October 1,
2010. Anna S. Grogins died on December 16, 2010. The
complaint further alleged that David Grogins, executor,
‘‘may claim an interest in [the] premises by
virtue of being the executor of the estate of Anna S.
Grogins, '' and that David Grogins and Malcolm L.
Grog-ins, trustees, were the current owners of record.
April 8, 2015, Malcolm L. Grogins, State of Connecticut,
Department of Revenue Services, and Bank of America, N.A.,
were defaulted for failure to appear. On April 27, 2015, the
court, Mintz, J., defaulted David Grogins
for failure to disclose a defense and rendered judgment of
strict foreclosure. The law day was set for July 28, 2015. On
July 27, 2015, David Grogins filed for bankruptcy, which
stayed the foreclosure proceedings.
the termination of the bankruptcy stay, the substitute
plaintiff filed a motion to open the judgment, to make new
findings, to reenter judgment after termination of the
bankruptcy stay and to award additional attorney's fees
and costs. Judge Mintz granted the substitute plaintiff's
motion and set a new law day for June 28, 2016.
13, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to open the judgment.
The defendants' motion to open was an official court
form, JD-CV-107, that cited General Statutes §§
52-212, 52-212a, and 52-259c, and Practice Book §§
17-4 and 17-43. Appended to the defendants' motion to
open was an ‘‘explication'' that alleged
that David Grogins and Malcolm L. Grogins, as individuals,
had occupied the residence subject to the foreclosure action
since its purchase in the early 2000s. The explication also
alleged that David Grogins had been sick intermittently
during the pendency of the foreclosure action and that his
illness, coupled with ‘‘the history of the loan,
'' constituted ‘‘good cause for [why] the
defaults [had] occurred . . . .'' Further, the
defendants asserted that they had a good faith belief that a
defense existed to the substitute plaintiff's complaint,
specifically, that the subject loan ‘‘was part of
the [HSSL (High Speed Swim Lane loan program)] at [Bank of
27, 2016, Judge Mintz heard oral argument on the
defendants' motion to open and decided that the matter
warranted a full hearing before Judge Tierney. Judge Mintz
then sua sponte opened the judgment of strict foreclosure and
set a new law day for July 19, 2016. Following a brief
hearing on July 11, 2016, the court, Hon. Kevin
Tierney, judge trial referee, sua sponte opened the
judgment of strict foreclosure and set a new law day for
August 2, 2016. Shortly thereafter, on July 29, 2016, Judge
Tierney held an evidentiary hearing on the defendants'
motion to open.
hearing was held over a series of nonconsecutive days,
starting on July 29, 2016, and ending on February 7, 2017.
The defendants called several witnesses who testified to
matters concerning alleged predatory lending practices and
fraudulent behavior during the procurement of the original
loan. The defendants did not present any evidence regarding
the illness of David Grogins, which purportedly had prevented
him from properly defending the foreclosure action, nor did
they offer any other evidence to explain their failure to
disclose a defense prior to default. Indeed, the attorney who
represented David Grogins early ...