IN RE PROBATE APPEAL OF ANDREW S. KNOTT, ADMINISTRATOR (ESTATE OF LUCILLE KIRSCH)
January 28, 2019
from the orders of the Probate Court for the district of
Hamden-Bethany denying the application to terminate the
conservatorship and request for a waiver of fees filed by the
plaintiff William P. Meyerjack as conservator of the estate
of the decedent, brought to the Superior Court in the
judicial district of New Haven, where the court, Markle,
J., granted the motion filed by Andrew S. Knott,
administrator of the estate of the decedent, to be
substituted as the plaintiff; thereafter, the matter was
tried to the court; judgment dismissing the appeal, from
which the substitute plaintiff appealed to this court.
Reversed; further proceedings.
S. Knott, self-represented, with whom, on the brief, was
Robert J. Santoro, for the appellant (substitute plaintiff).
DiPentima, C. J., and Elgo and Bright, Js.
DIPENTIMA, C. J.
narrow question presented in this appeal asks us to determine
whether the Superior Court improperly dismissed the probate
appeal of the substitute plaintiff, Andrew S. Knott,
administrator of the estate of Lucille S. Kirsch, as
untimely. Specifically, the substitute plaintiff argues that
his appeal was not untimely because an application for a
waiver of fees (fee waiver) had been filed pursuant to
General Statutes § 45a-186c,  which tolled the time limit
set forth in General Statutes § 45a-186
We agree with the substitute plaintiff and, therefore,
reverse the judgment of the trial court.
following undisputed facts and procedural history are
relevant to this appeal. On June 30, 2010, William P.
Meyerjack was appointed conservator of the estate of Lucille
S. Kirsch. On October 14, 2016, pursuant to General Statutes
§ 45a-660 (a) (2) and § 33.17 of the Probate Court
Rules,  William P. Meyerjack, conservator of the
estate of Lucille S. Kirsch (Meyerjack), filed an
application to terminate the conservatorship of the estate of
Lucille S. Kirsch and waive the requirement of a final
financial account (application to terminate the
conservatorship) with the Probate Court. On the same date,
Meyerjack filed a request for a waiver of fees.
Meyerjack's application to terminate the conservatorship
and request for a waiver of fees were denied by the Probate
Court, and notice of those decisions was mailed on October
December 1, 2016, prior to filing his appeal with the
Superior Court pursuant to § 45a-186 (a), Meyerjack
filed a fee waiver. The fee waiver was granted by the
Superior Court on December 5, 2016, and the
complaintwas filed on December 9, 2016. Shortly
thereafter, while his appeal was pending in the Superior
Court, Meyer-jack filed a motion to cite in Lucille S.
Kirsch, the conservatee, as a new party to the appeal.
Although the Superior Court appears not to have acted on
Meyer-jack's motion, Kirsch filed an appearance on
December 13, 2016, and, on December 21, 2016, filed an
amended complaint and amended writ of summons. At some
point, following these multiple filings, Kirsch was added to
the case caption as the designated plaintiff. On September
30, 2017, Kirsch died, and she was replaced with the
substitute plaintiff on February 27, 2018.
oral argument on April 3, 2018, the Superior Court sua sponte
dismissed the substitute plaintiff's appeal as untimely.
In its order, dated July 25, 2018, the court found that the
appeal was filed on December 9, 2016, which was more than
forty-five days after the Probate Court mailed notice of its
denials of Meyer-jack's application to terminate the
conservatorship and request for a waiver of fees.
Accordingly, because the appeal was not filed within the
deadline set forth in § 45a-186 (a), the court concluded
that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the
substitute plaintiff's appeal. The substitute plaintiff
now appeals that decision to this court.
appeal, the substitute plaintiff claims that the Superior
Court improperly dismissed his appeal as untimely because the
filing of the fee waiver tolled the time limit set forth in
§ 45a-186 (a). We agree with the substitute plaintiff
and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court
dismissing his appeal as untimely.
begin our analysis of the substitute plaintiff's claim by
setting forth our relevant standard of review.
‘‘Our Supreme Court has long held that because
[a] determination regarding a trial court's subject
matter jurisdiction is a question of law, our review is
plenary. . . . Moreover, [i]t is a fundamental rule that a
court may raise and review the issue of subject matter
jurisdiction at any time. . . . Subject matter jurisdiction
involves the authority of the court to adjudicate the type of
controversy presented by the action before it. . . . [A]
court lacks discretion to consider the merits of a case over
which it is without jurisdiction . . . . The subject matter
jurisdiction requirement may not be waived by any party, and
also may be raised by a party, or by the court sua sponte, at
any stage of the proceedings, including on appeal.''
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Arriaga v.
Commissioner of Correction, 120 Conn.App. 258,
261-62, 990 A.2d 910 (2010), appeal dismissed, 303 Conn. 698,
36 A.3d 224 (2012).
are . . . mindful of the familiar principle that a court
[that] exercises a limited and statutory jurisdiction is
without jurisdiction to act unless it does so under the
precise circumstances and in the manner particularly
prescribed by the enabling legislation. . . . Our courts of
probate have a limited jurisdiction and can exercise only
such powers as are conferred on them by statute. . . . They
have jurisdiction only when the facts exist on which the
legislature has conditioned the exercise of their power. . .
. The Superior Court, in turn, in passing on an appeal, acts
as a court of probate with the same powers and subject to the
same limitations. . . . It is also well established that
[t]he right to appeal from a decree of the Probate Court is
purely statutory and the rights fixed by statute for taking
and prosecuting the appeal must be met. . . . Thus, only
[w]hen the right to appeal . . . exists and the right has
been duly exercised in the manner prescribed by law [does]
the Superior Court [have] full jurisdiction over [it]. . .
.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Burnell
v. Chorches, 173 Conn.App. 788, 793, 164 A.3d
806 (2017). Failure to comply with the relevant time limit
set forth in § 45a-186 (a) ‘‘deprives the
Superior Court of subject matter jurisdiction and renders
such an untimely appeal subject to dismissal.''
Corneroli v. D'Amico, 116 Conn.App. 59,
67, 975 A.2d 107, cert. denied, 293 Conn. 928, 980 A.2d 909
the foregoing principles to the present appeal, we conclude
that the court improperly dismissed the substitute
plaintiff's appeal as untimely. The time limit to appeal
from a probate court's denial of an application to
terminate a conservatorship brought pursuant to §
45a-660 is forty-five days from the date that notice of the
denial is mailed. See General Statutes § 45a-186 (a).
When an appellant files a fee waiver pursuant to §
45a-186c, the time limit set forth in § 45a-186 (a) is
tolled until a judgment on the fee waiver is rendered. See
General Statutes § 45a-186c (b). In the present matter,
the trial court found that the notice was mailed by the
Probate Court on October 20, 2016, and determined that the
deadline to appeal expired on December 4, 2016. The court
apparently did not consider the fact that prior to filing
this appeal, Meyerjack filed a fee waiver on December 1,
2016, which was not granted until December 5, 2016. Pursuant
to § 45a-186c, the time limit set forth in §
45a-186 (a) was tolled during this five day interim, and,
Meyerjack had until ...