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Liberty Transportation, Inc. v. Massachusetts Bay Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 30, 2019

LIBERTY TRANSPORTATION, INC.
v.
MASSACHUSETTS BAY INSURANCE COMPANY[*]

          Argued March 18, 2019

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for, inter alia, breach of contract, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, where the court, Shapiro, J., granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Stuart G. Blackburn, with whom, on the brief, was Paige B. Durno, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Stephen O. Clancy, with whom, on the brief, was Jessica A. R. Hamilton, for the appellee (defendant).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Moll and Norcott, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The plaintiff, Liberty Transportation, Inc., appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant, Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company. The dispositive issue in the appeal is whether the court properly concluded that the plaintiff lacked standing to commence this action. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The plaintiff set forth the following allegations in its complaint. In August, 2011, the plaintiff owned property located at 11 High Street in Suffield, which the defendant insured for, inter alia, property damage, loss of income and fair rental value. On or about August 28, 2011, the property suffered wind and water damage during a hurricane. As a result, the plaintiff claimed to have sustained damages for lost income and lost fair rental value, and made an insurance claim to the defendant. The defendant declined to pay the plaintiff's claim. In August, 2013, the plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant. Its complaint set forth claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. It sought money damages, interest, attorney's fees, costs, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court. The defendant filed an answer and raised several special defenses on January 8, 2016.

         On September 6, 2017, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Practice Book § 10-30. Specifically, the defendant argued that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring its claim for lost rental income for two commercial units at the property because the plaintiff had sold the property to a third party on January 10, 2012, [1] and had assigned any insurance money for any damages existing at the time of the January, 2012 real estate closing.[2] Specifically, it stated: ‘‘[The] [p]laintiff's assignment of its rights to any potentially recoverable insurance proceeds to [the third party] unequivocally extinguished [the] [p]laintiff's corresponding right to recover those amounts. [The] [p]lain-tiff, therefore, lacks standing to maintain this action on its own behalf.''

         On October 6, 2017, the plaintiff filed a memorandum of law in opposition to the defendant's motion to dismiss. It argued that the loss of rental income occurred before the formation of the real estate purchase agreement. The plaintiff further claimed it was ‘‘classically aggrieved in that it has a specific interest in the claimed insurance proceeds . . . [and] suffered a loss due to the breach of contract by the [defendant] and has standing to bring this action.'' It also contended that it had retained an interest in the damaged units as a result of its decision to exercise a leaseback provision as set forth in the real estate purchase agreement.[3]

         On March 27, 2018, the court, Shapiro, J., issued a memorandum of decision granting the defendant's motion to dismiss. It first addressed the defendant's argument that the plaintiff had assigned the rights to the insurance proceeds to the third party pursuant to the terms of the real estate purchase agreement. It specifically explained: ‘‘An assignment is a transfer of property or some other right from one person (the assignor) to another (the assignee), which confers a complete and present right in the subject matter to the assignee. . . . Succession by an assignee to exclusive ownership of all or part of the assignor's rights respecting the subject matter of the assignment, and a corresponding extinguishment of those rights in the assignor, is precisely the effect of a valid assignment.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) The court concluded that a valid assignment had occurred.

         The court was not persuaded by the plaintiff's arguments that (1) it was entitled to the insurance proceeds because the damage had occurred before it entered into the real estate purchase agreement with the third party and (2) the execution of the leaseback provision in the real estate purchase agreement established its interest in the property such that it had standing. The court also rejected the plaintiff's claim that a separate agreement with the defendant entitled the plaintiffto any insurance moneys. Indeed, the plaintiff had failed to provide the court with a copy of this alleged separate agreement. The court granted the defendant's motion, concluding that ‘‘the plaintiff lacks standing in the present case because, by virtue of the assignment, it has no legal interest in alleged insurance proceeds that are due and payable on account of damage to the [property].'' This appeal followed.

         We carefully have examined the record and the briefs and arguments of the parties, and conclude that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. Because the trial court's memorandum of decision thoroughly addresses the arguments raised in this appeal, we adopt that court's well reasoned decision as a proper statement of the facts and the applicable law on the issues. Liberty Transportation, Inc. v. Massachusetts Bay Ins. Co., Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Docket No. CV-13-6044771-S (March 27, 2018) (reprinted at 189 Conn.App. 600, A.3d). It would serve no useful purpose for this court to engage in any further discussion. See, e.g., Woodruff v. Hemingway, 297 Conn. 317, 321, 2 A.3d 857 (2010); Bassford v. Bassford, 180 Conn.App. 331, 335, 183 A.3d 680 (2018); Samakaab v. Dept. of Social Services, 178 Conn.App. 52, 54, 173 A.3d 1004 (2017).

         The judgment is affirmed.

         APPENDIX

         Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford ...


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