BENCHMARK MUNICIPAL TAX SERVICES, LTD.
GREENWOOD MANOR, LLC, ET AL.
September 13, 2019
to foreclose certain municipal property tax liens, and for
other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial
district of Bridgeport, where the court, Hartmere,
J., granted the named defendant's motion to cite
in the city of Bridgeport as a defendant; thereafter, the
named defendant filed cross claims against the city of
Bridgeport et al.; subsequently, the court, Tyma,
J., granted the motion of the city of Bridgeport to be
substituted as the plaintiff; thereafter the court, Hon.
Richard P. Gilardi, judge trial referee, granted the
named defendant's motion to substitute Main Street
Business Management, Inc., as the defendant; subsequently,
the cross claims were tried to the court, Radcliffe, J.;
judgment in favor of the City of Bridgeport et al.;
thereafter, the court, Radcliffe, J., denied the
substitute defendant's motion to reargue, and the
substitute defendant appealed to this court.
Jonathan J. Klein, for the appellant (substitute
defendant-cross claim plaintiff Main Street Business
W. Moyher, with whom, on the brief, was James M. Nugent, for
the appellee (cross claim defendant Manuel Moutinho).
J. Epstein filed a brief for the appellee (substitute
plaintiff city of Bridgeport).
Prescott, Bright and Devlin, Js.
action to foreclose certain municipal property tax liens on a
9.9 acre parcel of property in Bridgeport (property),
substitute defendant and cross claim plaintiff, Main Street
Business Management, Inc. (Main Street),  appeals from the
trial court's judgment rendered against it on its cross
claim alleging that the cross claim defendant, Manuel
Moutinho, tortiously interfered with a business expectancy
and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act,
General Statutes § 42-110 et seq. (CUTPA), and on its
counterclaim alleging that the city engaged in tortious
interference with a business expectancy and improperly sought
to affect the property's value adversely by interfering
with a proposed zone change.
appeal, Main Street, as Greenwood's successor in
interest, claims that the court improperly determined that
(1) Moutinho did not tortiously interfere with a proposed
sale of the property by Greenwood to the city, (2) the city
did not tortiously interfere with the business relationship
between Greenwood and Moutinho, and (3) the city did not
tortiously interfere by causing the city's planning and
zoning commission (commission) to reject a zoning
reclassification that would have benefited Greenwood by
increasing the property's marketability. We disagree and
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
following facts, which either were found by the court or are
not in dispute, and procedural history are relevant to our
disposition of the claims on appeal. In January, 2009, after
years of negotiations, Moutinho finalized a sale of the
property to Greenwood, exchanging a warranty deed for a
purchase money mortgage of $2 million. Greenwood intended to
develop the property for use as a multiunit residential
complex. Such use, however, was not permitted at the time the
sale closed because the property was zoned R-A, or
single-family residential, and thus required a zone change to
R-C, or multifamily residential, in order to be developed in
accordance with Greenwood's plan.
Greenwood never filed a zone change application, it was aware
that, in 2008, the commission had begun the process of
revising the city's master plan of development and was
engaged in a comprehensive reevaluation of zoning regulations
and zoning districts throughout the city. As part of this
process, the commission considered whether to adopt a zone
change for the property from R-A to R-C. Ultimately, the
commission decided to leave the zoning classification for the
before and after Moutinho finalized his sale of the property
to Greenwood, the city expressed an interest in purchasing
the property for use in a flood plain control project and for
other purposes. The city engaged in negotiations with
Moutinho, both during the time he owned the property and
later as the holder of an interest in the property by virtue
of the mortgage deed received from Greenwood. The city also
negotiated with Greenwood to buy the property. The city never
entered into a contract for sale with either Moutinho or
Greenwood, as there was never a meeting of the minds
regarding a sale price.
August, 2011, Benchmark, which had acquired from the city
certain liens for delinquent property taxes assessed against
the property in 2008 and 2009, commenced this action to
foreclose those liens. At that time, the property was
encumbered by a number of other liens and ...