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Jacques v. Jacques

Appellate Court of Connecticut

December 24, 2019

Jean-Marc JACQUES
v.
Muriel JACQUES

         Argued October 21, 2019

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, Gerard I. Adelman, J.

         Keith Yagaloff, South Windsor, for the appellant (plaintiff).

         Brandon B. Fontaine, with whom, on the brief, was C. Michael Budlong, Hartford, for the appellee (defendant).

         DiPentima, C.J., and Moll and Bishop, Js.

         OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

Page 91

          [195 Conn.App. 60] The plaintiff, Jean-Marc Jacques, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant, Muriel Jacques. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred by (1) concluding that his action was barred by the statute of limitations contained in General Statutes § 52-576 (a), (2) determining that it lacked continuing jurisdiction to enforce the parties’ separation agreement, and (3) failing to construe the parties’ separation agreement as a contract and to effectuate the intent of the parties to the contract. Because, however, the plaintiff has failed to challenge an independent ground for the trial court’s ruling, the plaintiff’s appeal is moot. Accordingly, we dismiss the plaintiff’s appeal.[1]

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to the disposition of the plaintiff’s appeal. In May, 2016, the plaintiff brought a breach of contract action against the defendant, alleging that she had breached the parties’ marital separation agreement by failing to disclose assets. Paragraph 10 (h) of the separation agreement provided: "[A]ny assets over ten thousand and 00/100 ($10,000.00) dollars in fair market value that the [defendant] owns or has an equitable interest in at the time of the dissolution which are not shown by the [defendant] on her financial affidavit, shall, upon discovery by the other party, become [the plaintiff’s] [195 Conn.App. 61] property without any defense interposed by the [defendant] whatsoever as to such claims of the other party." In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant liquidated two annuities prior to the divorce. The plaintiff argued that the proceeds from these liquidated annuities, totaling $1,153,444.78, were undisclosed assets under paragraph 10 (h) of the separation agreement. The defendant denied the material allegations of the complaint and raised a number of special defenses, including that the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations governing breach of contract actions, as provided in § 52-576 (a).[2] After trial, the court first determined that the plaintiff’s action was barred by the statute of limitations. The court then found that there was insufficient evidence that the defendant had breached the separation agreement as alleged by the plaintiff and that there had been no failure to disclose assets by either party. Accordingly, the court rendered judgment in favor of the defendant. This appeal followed.

         Before this court, the plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in a number of ways relating to the applicability of the statute of limitations. The plaintiff does not, however, challenge the trial court’s determination that there was insufficient evidence to support his claim that the defendant had breached the separation agreement.

         "Where an appellant fails to challenge all bases for a trial court’s adverse ruling on his claim, even if this court were to agree with the appellant on the issues that he does raise, we still would not be able to provide [him] any relief in light of the binding adverse finding[s] [not raised] with respect to those claims.... Therefore, when an appellant challenges a trial court’s adverse ruling, but does not challenge all independent [195 Conn.App. 62] bases for that ruling, the appeal is moot." (Internal quotation

Page 92

marks omitted.) Parnoff v. Aquarion Water Co. of Connecticut, 188 Conn.App. 153, 166, 204 A.3d 717 (2019).

         In the present case, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of the defendant on two grounds. First, it determined that the separation agreement remained a contract beyond the judgment of the court dissolving the marriage and that the plaintiff’s breach of contract claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Second, the court found that there was insufficient evidence that the defendant had breached the separation agreement, and, thus, the plaintiff’s claim failed on the merits. On appeal, the plaintiff argues that his action was not barred by the statute of limitations because the separation agreement had been incorporated into the judgment by the court dissolving the marriage.[3] Because the plaintiff did not challenge the trial court’s determination that he failed to prove a breach of contract, there is no practical relief that this court can grant to him. Thus, even if we agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that his action is not barred by the statute of limitations, we would be unable to provide relief because the plaintiff failed to challenge the trial court’s finding on the merits. See Hartford v. CBV Parking Hartford, LLC,330 Conn. 200, 210, 192 A.3d 406 (2018) ("[u]ndoubtedly, if there exists ...


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