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Hilario Truck Center, LLC v. Kohn

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

June 4, 2019

HILARIO TRUCK CENTER, LLC
v.
KEVIN S. KOHN ET AL.

          Argued March 6, 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 Danbury, where the court, Mintz, J., granted the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant Allstate Insurance Company and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Kenneth A. Voire, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Raymond J. Kelly, for the appellee (defendant Allstate Insurance Company).

          DiPentima, C. J, and Lavine and Harper, Js

          OPINION

          DiPENTIMA, C. J.

         The plaintiff, Hilario Truck Center, LLC, appeals from the judgment of dismissal of the third count of its operative complaint following the granting of the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate).[1] The plaintiff argues that the court erred when it concluded that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring a claim as a third-party beneficiary against Allstate pursuant to an automobile insurance policy issued to the defendant Kevin E. Kohn. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The plaintiff commenced the present action in October, 2015. In its operative complaint, the plaintiff alleged the following facts.[2] On October 23, 2014, the defendant Kevin S. Kohn was operating a 1995 Buick in Newtown. The vehicle, owned by his father, Kevin E. Kohn, swerved off the road and came to rest on the property of Cliff Beers and Maryellen Beers. Kevin E. Kohn called the plaintiff to remove the vehicle from the property and tow the vehicle to its facility. The plaintiff successfully removed the vehicle from the Beers' property.

         The plaintiff filed a three count complaint against Kevin S. Kohn, Kevin E. Kohn and Allstate. The first and second counts, sounding in breach of contract and unjust enrichment, were directed against Kevin S. Kohn and Kevin E. Kohn.[3] The third count, directed against Allstate, alleged that Kevin E. Kohn was the named insured of an insurance policy issued by Allstate. The plaintiff further claimed the insurance policy obligated Allstate to make payments to a third party for damages arising from the use of an automobile covered under the policy and that Allstate had not done so.[4] Finally, the plaintiff alleged that it was due payment for its towing services as a third-party beneficiary pursuant to the insurance policy and that Allstate had failed to pay the plaintiff.

         On August 22, 2017, Allstate moved to dismiss the third count of the plaintiffs operative complaint. Allstate argued that the plaintiff was not a third-party beneficiary of its insurance policy issued to Kevin E. Kohn. Allstate reasoned, therefore, that the plaintiff lacked standing. In support of this motion, Allstate relied on the judgment rendered by the court, Truglia, J., in Hilario's Truck Center, LLC v. Rinaldi, Superior Court, judicial district of Danbury, Docket No. CV-16-6019558-S (October 17, 2016), aff d, 183 Conn.App. 597, 193 A.3d 683, cert, denied, 330 Conn. 925, 194 A.3d 776 (2018).[5]

         On December 18, 2017, the court granted Allstate's August 22, 2017 motion to dismiss, stating: "Granted. The court adopts Judge Truglia's ruling in . . . Hilario's Truck Center, LLC v. [Rinaldi, supra, Superior Court, Docket No. CV-16-6019558-S]." This appeal followed.

         In Hilario's Truck Center, LLC v. Rinaldi, 183 Conn.App. 597, 598, 193 A.3d 683, cert, denied, 330 Conn. 925, 194 A.3d 776 (2018), this court specifically held that, under nearly identical circumstances, a towing company is not an intended third-party beneficiary of an automobile insurance policy between an insurance company and the insured.[6] This court noted that "[a] person or entity that is not a named insured under an insurance policy and who does not qualify, at least arguably, as a third-party beneficiary, lacks standing to bring a direct action against the insurer." Id., 603-604. Additionally, this court stated that "the fact that a person is a foreseeable beneficiary of a contract is not sufficient for him to claim rights as a [third-party] beneficiary." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 608. Ultimately, this court concluded that neither the language of the insurance contract nor public policy supported the claim that a towing company, under such circumstances, was a third-party beneficiary of an automobile insurance contract. Id., 606-12. As a result, the towing company lacked standing to maintain a direct action against the insurance company. Id., 612.

         In its appellate brief in the present case, the plaintiff failed to mention, distinguish, or address in any way Hilario's Truck Center, LLC v. Rinaldi, supra, Superior Court, Docket No. CV-16-6019558-S, which served as the basis of the decision of the trial court to grant the defendant's motion to dismiss in the present case. Additionally, the plaintiff overlooked this court's opinion in Hilario's Truck Center, LLC v. Rinaldi, supra, 183 Conn.App. 597, which was issued two months prior to the filing of the plaintiffs appellate brief. The plaintiff did not file a reply brief nor did it provide any notice pursuant to Practice Book § 67-10 addressing the Rinaldi case.[7] As stated succinctly in the defendant's ...


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