THOMAS G. STONE III
EAST COAST SWAPPERS, LLC
January 31, 2019
to recover damages for, inter alia, a violation of the
Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and for other relief,
brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of
Hartford, where the court, Huddleston, J.,
granted in part the defendant's motion to strike;
thereafter, the matter was tried to the court,
Noble, J.; judgment for the plaintiff, from
which the plaintiff appealed to this court; subsequently, the
court, Noble, J., issued an articulation of
its decision. Affirmed.
William J. O'Sullivan, with whom was Michelle M. Seery,
for the appellant (plaintiff).
E. Taalman, with whom, on the brief, was Joseph R.
Serrantino, for the appellee (defendant).
Alvord, Bright and Norcott, Js.
plaintiff, Thomas G. Stone III, appeals from the judgment of
the trial court, rendered after a trial to the court, finding
that the defendant, East Coast Swappers, LLC, had violated
the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General
Statutes § 42-110a et seq., and awarding the plaintiff
compensatory damages, but declining to award punitive damages
and attorney's fees. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that
the court erred when it failed to award him attorney's
fees. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
following facts, as found by the trial court, and procedural
history are relevant to our resolution of this appeal.
Patrick Keithan, at the time, the plaintiff's son-in-law,
purchased a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution in February,
2010, from a dealership in Savannah, Georgia. Keithan was in
the military service and stationed in Georgia. He financed
the purchase of the car, in part, through a loan from
Wachovia Dealer Services, Inc., in the amount of
approximately $24, 362.49.
thereafter, the car's engine experienced performance
issues, for reasons not disclosed at trial. Keithan towed the
car from Georgia to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, where the
defendant, a motor vehicle repair shop, was located. The
defendant first replaced the car's turbocharger for
$2000, which Keithan paid for by credit card. Following the
replacement of the turbocharger, the engine still was found
to be inoperable. Keithan returned to Georgia to fulfill his
military service obligations and left the car with the
ultimately decided that he wanted the defendant to install a
Buschur Racing short block. Paul Scott, a co-owner of the
defendant, drafted an estimate for this work, which he
forwarded to Keithan. The estimate, dated August 17, 2010,
referenced the purchase of the Buschur Racing short block and
its installation, and estimated a cost of $9028.89.
plaintiff loaned Keithan $9000 to pay the defendant. The
plaintiff's wife prepared a promissory note for the loan,
which contemplated the title and car being held by the
plaintiff while the note remained unpaid. The note, dated
September 14, 2010, was executed by Keithan and his wife, the
plaintiff's daughter. Keithan's wife then forwarded a
check to the defendant in the amount of $9028.89.
October 11, 2010, the defendant shipped the car's engine
to Buschur Racing, which performed the requested work on the
engine and returned the modified engine to the defendant. The
modified engine, however, was never installed in the
As Scott started to prepare the modified engine for
installation, his foreman came to him with an additional
parts request to discuss with Keithan. These were components
that the foreman had learned were damaged as he took the
original engine apart to prepare it for transmittal to
Buschur Racing. When this request was communicated to
Keithan,  he did not want to pay the extra money.
The car continued to remain in the defendant's
never repaid the plaintiff any portion of the loan. The
plaintiff first attempted to obtain title to the car to
identify him as a second position lienholder by filing a
title application with the Motor Vehicle Division of the
Georgia Department of Revenue. In February and April, 2011, the
plaintiff traveled from Maryland, where he resided, to the
defendant's location in Connecticut. Scott refused to
allow the plaintiff to look at the car or the modified
engine. On September 1, 2011, Victoria L. Abalan, a co-owner
of the defendant, sent a letter to Keithan, in which she
indicated that she had been contacted by the plaintiff and
had received a copy of the plaintiff's title application.
The letter from Abalan to Keithan referenced the sum of $14,
151.71 being owed to the defendant, which represented the
costs of additional shipping, engine parts,  and storage over
the previous year.
plaintiff filed an action against Keithan in Maryland and
obtained a judgment in the amount of $10, 348. This judgment
permitted him to eventually secure a lien on the car
subsequent in right to that of Wells Fargo Auto Finance
(Wells Fargo). See footnote 1 of this opinion. The lien was
reflected in a certificate of title, dated June 29, 2012,
which was issued by the Georgia Department of Revenue.
13, 2012, the defendant filed a ‘‘Notice of
Intent to Sell'' or an ‘‘Artificer's
Lien'' with the Connecticut Department of Motor
Vehicles, which claimed a lien of $1792. In December, 2012,
the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles issued to the
defendant a form H-76, an ‘‘Affidavit of
Compliance and Ownership Transfer, '' for use in
providing valid title to a purchaser for a vehicle subject to
an artificer's lien.
December, 2012, extensive communications took place between
the plaintiff, the plaintiff's wife, and the
defendant's owners, regarding the plaintiff obtaining the
car in satisfaction of his lien. During these communications,
the plaintiff informed the defendant that he had secured
status as a second position lienholder on the Georgia ...