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Kaminski v. Poirot

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

May 21, 2019

JOHN S. KAMINSKI
v.
DAVID POIROT

          Argued March 13, 2019

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for legal malpractice, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, where the court, Hon. Joseph H. Pellegrino, judge trial referee, granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          John S. Kaminski, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).

          David Poirot, self-represented, the appellee (defendant).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Alvord and Conway, Js.

          OPINION

          ALVORD, J.

         The self-represented plaintiff, John S. Kaminski, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendant, Attorney David Poirot. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erroneously concluded that his legal malpractice action against the defendant was time barred pursuant to General Statutes § 52-577, the statute of limitations applicable to tort actions.[1] We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of the plaintiff's appeal. On June 8, 2012, the plaintiff was a passenger in a Department of Correction van driven by a correction officer. He was being transported to a medical facility for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan because of a lower back problem. At some point during the trip, the van's left rear tire blew out, and the van moved to the left hand side of the highway and struck a guardrail. The plaintiff, alleging that he suffered back and neck injuries as a result of the incident, commenced a negligence action as a self-represented party against three individual defendants employed by the Department of Correction (underlying action) on June 18, 2013. On January 28, 2014, the defendant attorney filed an appearance on the plaintiff's behalf.

         On April 3, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to cite in the state of Connecticut as a defendant in the underlying action. On April 21, 2014, the court granted the motion, and the defendant summoned the state to appear and filed an amended complaint on May 7, 2014. On May 8, 2014, the defendant withdrew the complaint against all of the individual defendants, leaving the state as the sole defendant in the underlying action. On June 25, 2014, the defendant filed a motion for permission to withdraw his appearance, claiming that the attorney-client relationship had broken down. On July 1, 2014, the plaintiff filed an appearance in the underlying action as a self-represented party in lieu of the appearance of the defendant.

         The plaintiff continued to represent himself in the underlying action. The case was tried to the court, Swienton, J. On November 29, 2016, the court issued a memorandum of decision in which it concluded that the record was ‘‘bereft of any evidence'' demonstrating that the state breached any duty owed to the plaintiff. The court rendered judgment in favor of the state.

         On November 9, 2017, the self-represented plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant claiming legal malpractice. From a very broad and liberal reading of his complaint, it appears that the plaintiff is alleging that the defendant was ‘‘unprofessional'' when he withdrew as counsel for the plaintiff in the underlying action and that the defendant left the plaintiff with a very complex matter to litigate by changing the underlying action from a simple negligence action against individual state employees to a General Statutes § 52-556 action against the state. On December8, 2017, the defendant filed an answer and special defense, alleging that the plaintiff's claim was barred by the statute of limitations, § 52-577. The plaintiff filed a reply to the special defense on December 21, 2017.

         On February 5, 2018, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, accompanied by a memorandum of law in support of his motion. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was alleging that the defendant's act of malpractice was withdrawing the underlying action as to the three individual defendants, which occurred on May 8, 2014. Because § 52-577 is a three year statute of limitations, the defendant claimed that the present action was required to be commenced by May 8, 2017. The defendant was served with the plaintiff's legal malpractice action on November 9, 2017, which is more than three years from the date of the alleged malpractice. Accordingly, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff's action was time barred and that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         The plaintiff filed his objection to the defendant's motion for summary judgment on February 15, 2018. In the plaintiff's response, he claimed that the three year period did not commence until Judge Swienton had rendered judgment in favor of the state on November 29, 2016. Accordingly, the plaintiff's position was that he had until November 29, 2019, to file the legal malpractice claim against the defendant. Because the defendant was served on November 9, 2017, the plaintiff argued that he had ...


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