May 22, 2019
Court in the judicial district of Middlesex, Aurigemma, J.
Michael J. Habib, with whom was Thomas P. Willcutts,
Hartford, for the appellant (named defendant).
T. Staskiewicz, Hartford, for the appellee (plaintiff).
Gentes filed a brief for the Connecticut Fair Housing Center
as amicus curiae.
C. J., and Moll and Beach, Js.
Conn.App. 788] The defendant Sandra Frimel appeals from the
judgment of foreclosure by sale rendered in favor of the
plaintiff, Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC. On appeal, the
defendant claims that the trial court erred in granting the
plaintiffs motion for summary judgment without the motion
appearing on the short calendar and without permitting oral
argument on the motion. We agree with the defendant and,
accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.
following facts and procedural history are relevant to the
defendants claim on appeal. The plaintiff filed this action
in February, 2011, seeking to foreclose a mortgage on the
defendants property located at 158 Brainard Hill Road in
Higganum. On December 23, 2013, the trial court,
Domnarski, J., granted the plaintiffs
motion for summary judgment as to liability only. On [192
Conn.App. 789] April 28, 2014, the court, Marcus,
J., rendered a judgment of foreclosure by sale. On
August 18, 2014, Judge Domnarski granted the defendants
motion to open the judgment and vacated the judgment of
foreclosure by sale. On January 12, 2015, the plaintiff filed
a motion for judgment of strict foreclosure. On January 23,
2015, the defendant filed an answer, a special defense, and a
2, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment as
to liability only on the complaint and as to the defendants
special defense and counterclaim. On June 19, 2017, William
B. Smith, trustee for Thomas P. Willcutts, the defendants
former attorney, filed a letter informing the court that
Willcutts had been placed on interim suspension from the
practice of law and that the defendant had only recently
become aware of Willcutts suspension. The letter also asked
that the court offer "any appropriate forbearance or
time in proceeding" with this matter.
At a scheduled hearing on the plaintiffs motion for summary
judgment on July 24, 2017, the plaintiffs counsel indicated
that although she was ready to proceed with regard to the
plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, she would leave it
to [192 Conn.App. 790] the courts discretion in light of
Willcutts suspension and the defendants attempts to retain
another attorney. The defendant then informed the court
that she was having a problem receiving her mail and that she
had very recently learned of Willcutts
suspension. In response, the court,
Aurigemma, J., stated that it "will
consider this matter on or after August [18, 2017]. If
theres nothing filed by your attorney, the court will grant
the summary judgment. This case is six years old. The court
is not inclined to give any more time. I think [August 18,
2017], is quite generous." Counsel for the plaintiff
then inquired whether the court would want oral argument on
August 18, 2017, or if it would consider the case on the
papers on that date. In response, the court stated that
"[i]f they file it and want argument, they can request
argument ... on or before [August 18, 2017]; otherwise, I
will take it on the papers."
Conn.App. 791] On August 18, 2017, Attorney Michael J. Habib
filed an appearance on behalf of the defendant. On August 21,
2017, Habib filed an objection to the plaintiffs motion for
summary judgment. The opposition indicated that oral argument
was requested. On August 29, 2017, the court granted
the plaintiffs motion for summary judgment on the basis of
the parties written submissions and without a hearing. The
courts decision ...