September 18, 2019
Court in the judicial district of New Haven, Hon. Richard E.
Burke, judge trial referee, Hon. Richard E. Burke, judge
S. Knott, with whom, on the brief, was Robert J. Santoro, for
the appellant (plaintiff).
Devlin and Harper, Js.
Conn.App. 378] The plaintiff, Kathleen Telman, appeals from
the trial courts judgment denying
her motion to set aside the verdict as to damages and for
additur. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court
abused its discretion in denying her motion to "set
aside [the] verdict" as to damages and for additur
because the courts award of attorneys fees to the plaintiff
was so low that it shocks the conscience. We conclude that
the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying [194
Conn.App. 379] the plaintiffs motion for additur as to
attorneys fees and, therefore, affirm the judgment.
following procedural history and facts are relevant to our
resolution of this claim. The plaintiff commenced the present
action against the defendants, Gary W. Hoyt and Karen A.
Hoyt, by way of summons and complaint. The
complaint set out nine causes of action that sounded, inter
alia, in fraud. The plaintiff alleged that on November 20,
2015, she purchased real property located at 1958 Hartford
Turnpike, North Haven (property) from the defendants. In the
defendants residential property condition disclosure report
(disclosure), they stated that "[m]onsoon rains may
result in slight water in [the] garage"; (internal
quotation marks omitted); and that there were no other water
drainage problems associated with the property. The plaintiff
alleged that the defendants knew that water intrusion
occurred in the garage with normal rainfall and also that
there were other drainage problems associated with the
landscaping on the property. Therefore, the plaintiff alleged
that the defendants committed fraud in their sale of the
property by making false representations in the disclosure.
defendants filed appearances in the present case but failed
to plead in response to the plaintiffs amended complaint.
Accordingly, the plaintiff filed a motion for default
pursuant to the defendants failure to plead, which was
granted by the clerk.
April 24, 2017, the court held a hearing in damages. The
defendants did not appear at the hearing and, therefore, the
plaintiffs claims were uncontested. The plaintiff presented
evidence with respect to the damages [194 Conn.App. 380] she
sustained as a result of the defendants fraud. Her
excavation expert testified that it would cost $19,000 to
cure the drainage issues associated with the property. The
plaintiff also testified that she spent 197 hours landscaping
the property before she realized that there were drainage
problems that ruined her landscaping efforts. The plaintiff
requested $6,402.05 as compensation for her time spent on her
ruined landscaping efforts, which was calculated on the basis
of the hourly rate she earned from employment. The plaintiff
sought punitive damages, including attorneys fees, on the
basis of the defendants fraud. The plaintiffs counsel
presented evidence of $1,462.35 in court costs and $27,480 in
after the hearing, the court rendered judgment as to damages.
The court awarded the plaintiff damages in the total amount
of $24,462.35, which included $19,000 in compensatory
damages, $1462.35 in taxable costs, and $4000 for
attorneys fees. The court also ordered postjudgment interest
in the amount of 6 percent per annum. The plaintiff then
filed a motion to "set aside [the] verdict" as to
damages and for additur pursuant to Practice Book §
16-35. In support of her motion, the
plaintiff argued that the court did not properly apply the
law to the facts of the case because it failed to consider
the plaintiffs lost ...