RICHARD M. PATROWICZ ET AL.
January 23, 2019
to recover damages for, inter alia, breach of contract, and
for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the
judicial district of Windham and tried to the court, Boland,
J.; judgment for the plaintiffs, from which the defendant
appealed to this court. Affirmed.
L. Peloquin, self-represented, the appellant (defendant).
J. Cotnoir, for the appellees (plaintiffs).
Keller, Elgo and Moll, Js.
breach of contract action, the self-represented defendant,
Barry Peloquin, appeals from the judgment of the trial court
rendered in favor of the plaintiffs, Richard M. Patrowicz and
Deborah Patrowicz. On appeal, the defendant challenges the
court's (1) denial of his request for a continuance
following the close of the plaintiffs' case-in-chief and
(2) determinations with respect to his statute of frauds
defense. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
memorandum of decision, the court found the following
relevant facts. The plaintiffs are husband and wife, who
jointly own a twenty-six acre parcel of land in Thompson.
After retiring from a career as a millwright, Richard began
operating a small forestry business on the property.
or 2013, a mutual friend introduced the plaintiffs to the
defendant. At that time, the defendant resided in the town of
Pomfret, where zoning regulations prohibited the defendant
from parking log trucks and other equipment on his
residential property. The plaintiffs met with the defendant,
and the parties subsequently reached an agreement, under
which the defendant was permitted to store his commercial
logging equipment on the plaintiffs' property.
court found, the plaintiffs learned ‘‘[i]n short
order . . . that zoning compliance was not the
defendant's only problem. His equipment was in need of
repairs or replacement, and at times his cash flow was
insufficient to afford payment of his monthly home mortgage
and other bills. [The defendant] turned to the plaintiffs for
assistance.'' The court further found that the
plaintiffs subsequently made a series of loans to the
defendant, all with the expectation of
Richard testified at trial, the plaintiffs entered into a
‘‘verbal agreement'' with the defendant
on the basis of his ‘‘guarantee'' that he
would fully repay those loans.
the defendant failed to repay those loans, the plaintiffs
commenced this breach of contract action in December,
2015. In his
answer, the defendant denied the material allegations of the
plaintiffs' complaint, including the allegation that he
had promised to repay the loans in question. The defendant
also asserted five special defenses, only one of which is
relevant to this appeal. In his second special defense, the
defendant alleged that the breach of contract count was
barred by the statute of frauds set forth in General Statutes
§ 52-550. The defendant filed numerous motions with
the trial court over the next thirteen months, including a
motion to dismiss, a motion for summary judgment, a motion
for a default judgment, an ‘‘emergency motion for
discovery, '' a motion to remove the plaintiffs'
legal counsel, and a motion in limine, all of which were
denied by the court.
trial was held on March 10, 2017. In their casein-chief, the
plaintiffs offered the testimony of Richard, who was subject
to lengthy cross and recross-examination by the
self-represented defendant. In addition, the plaintiffs introduced,
and the court admitted, into evidence various financial
documents, including purchase receipts, credit card
statements, and copies of cancelled checks from the
plaintiffs made payable to and signed by the defendant. Also
admitted into evidence was a promissory note executed on
October 7, 2013, regarding the defendant's purchase of a
log truck for $8000.
defendant's case-in-chief consisted of additional
testimony from Richard and six documents that were admitted
into evidence as full exhibits. In his cross-examination of
Richard during the plaintiffs' case-in-chief and his
direct examination of Richard as part of his defense, the
defendant repeatedly attempted tooffer contrasting statements
of fact in response to Richard's testimony. Each time,
the court advised the defendant that such statements were
improper and clarified that the defendant was free to offer
such evidence during his own testimony. The defendant nonetheless
declined to testify as a witness at trial. For that reason,
when the defendant attempted to introduce his own affidavit
into evidence during his case-in-chief, the court denied that
request. As the court stated, ‘‘I'm not
[going to] allow . . . your affidavit when you don't want
to testify and be subject to cross-examination.''
subsequent memorandum of decision, the court found the
defendant in breach of contract, stating:
‘‘Although the defendant, who represented
himself, denied virtually all the essential allegations of
the complaint, he declined to testify. When he attempted
(frequently) to offer evidence in his role as counsel, and
not under oath, the court directed him to hold that
information until he was sworn. At that time he could have
expounded at length upon his version of the facts. He
expressly declined to take advantage of that opportunity.
Even to the extent that his arguments and objections could be
credited, however, they did not undercut [Richard's]
narrative of steady cash transfers to [the defendant] in
varying amounts over a considerable period, without
repayment. At best, they reflect a hazy suggestion on their
recipient's part that all these transfers were a gift. In
support of this contention [the defendant] offered no
court had the opportunity to observe [Richard] throughout
approximately five hours of testimony and cross-examination.
While he cannot be described as razor-sharp in his
recollection, he is generally credible and, in the details to
which he testified, there was substantial correspondence
between his testimony and the [documents that the plaintiffs]
submitted [into evidence]. The court finds that the
plaintiffs have proven by a preponderance of the evidence
that they made loans to the defendant totaling $48, 518.66,
of which he has repaid a mere $350. That leaves $48, 168.66
due and owing.'' The court also rejected all five
special defenses raised by the defendant. The court rendered
judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $48,
168.66, and this appeal followed.
defendant first claims that the court abused its discretion
in denying his request for a continuance following the close
of the plaintiffs' case-in-chief. We disagree.
following additional facts are relevant to the
defendant's claim. Trial commenced on March 10, 2017,
with the presentation of the plaintiffs' case-in-chief.
Early in Richard's testimony on direct examination, the
defendant objected; in so doing, he sought to offer evidence
to rebut Richard's testimony. As the court overruled that
objection, a brief colloquy ensued:
‘‘The Defendant: Excuse me? Did you just
say-swear at me?
‘‘[Deborah]: Yeah, I ...