Justia Business Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
Styslinger v. Brewster, Park, LLC
As part of a marriage dissolution settlement agreement, Joyce Styslinger assigned her membership interest in Brewster Park, LLC to William Styslinger (Plaintiff). Plaintiff had the right to receive distributions resulting from Joyce’s membership interest in the LLC, while Joyce remained a member of Brewster Park until Plaintiff was admitted to membership by Michael Weinshel, the other member of the LLC. At the time he filed this action, Plaintiff had requested membership status, but Weinshel had not granted it, and Brewster Park had not made any distributions to Plaintiff despite Plaintiff’s demand. Plaintiff sued Brewster Park and Weinshel claiming breach of fiduciary duty and seeking an order dissolving Brewster Park and the appointment of a receiver to wind up its affairs and distribute its assets. The trial court dismissed the complaint on the ground that Plaintiff lacked standing to seek a dissolution or a winding up of the LLC’s assets. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Connecticut Limited Liability Company Act granted him standing in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the assignee of a membership interest in a Connecticut LLC does not have standing to seek a winding up of the affairs of the LLC in the absence of the LLC’s dissolution. View "Styslinger v. Brewster, Park, LLC" on Justia Law
Pictometry Int’l Corp. v. Freedom of Info. Comm’n
Pictometry International Corporation was engaged in the business in selling specialized aerial photographic services. Pictometry contracted with the department of information technology to license the department of environmental protection (DEP) to use certain aerial photographic images and associated data that were owned and copyrighted by Pictometry. Stephen Whitaker requested that the DEP provide him with the images and data. The DEP indicated that it would provide copies of the images for a fee provided for in the licensing agreement. Whitaker filed a complaint against the DEP with the freedom of information commission (commission). The commission determined that, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (act), the DEP was required to provide Whitaker with the images at minimum cost but was not required to provide the associated data. The trial court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the commission improperly ordered the DEP to provide copies of the images without first determining whether it was feasible for the DEP to provide such copies and whether doing so would pose a public safety risk; and (2) if the commission determined on remand that Whitaker is entitled to copies of the images, Whitaker was required to pay a $25 per image fee. View "Pictometry Int'l Corp. v. Freedom of Info. Comm'n" on Justia Law
418 Meadow St. Assocs., LLC v. Clean Air Partners, LLC
Plaintiff, an LLC, owned and managed a commercial office building, and Defendant, an LLC, leased and occupied space in the building. A dispute arose between Plaintiff and Defendant over the scope of the lease and payment of rent. This dispute resulted in two people who had ownership interests in Plaintiff bringing the present action, in the name of Plaintiff, against Defendant to enforce the lease and to collect rent. Barbara Levine, who had fifty percent interest in Plaintiff and was the wife of a part owner of Defendant, disapproved of the lawsuit. The trial court rendered judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring the action, since one of its member's votes should not have been excluded pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 34-187(b) on the ground that she had an interest in the outcome of the suit that was adverse to the interest of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff properly excluded Levine from voting her interest in determining whether to bring the present action because her interest in the outcome of the action was adverse to that of Plaintiff's in light of her husband's ownership interest in Defendant. View "418 Meadow St. Assocs., LLC v. Clean Air Partners, LLC" on Justia Law
David Caron Chrysler Motors, LLC v. Goodhall’s, Inc.
David Caron purchased a majority membership in Goodhall's Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge-Jeep-Eagle, LLC without having obtained the written consent of Goodhall's, Inc. (Goodhall's), in violation of Goodhall's lease with Goodhall's Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge-Jeep-Eagle. The lease idenitified Goodhall's as the landlord and Goodhall's Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge-Jeep-Eagle as the tenant. After a dispute arose concerning the party responsible for remediating certain environmental conditions on the property, Plaintiffs, David Caron and David Caron Chrysler Motors, filed suit against Defendants, Goodhall's and others, claiming that Defendants had violated provisions of its lease regarding Goodhall's responsibility for preexisting environmental conditions and Goodhall's warranty of fitness and habitability. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that no contract existed between the parties to this action because the assignment of the majority interest in the tenant to Caron was invalid. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the appellate court improperly failed to consider Plaintiffs' claim that the trial court had improperly concluded that no contract existed between David Caron Chrysler Motors and Goodhall's; and (2) the trial court was incorrect in finding that, because Goodhall's did not consent to the assignment, there was no contract between David Caron Chrysler Motors and Goodhall's. View "David Caron Chrysler Motors, LLC v. Goodhall's, Inc." on Justia Law
Comm’r of Envtl. Prot. v. State Five Indus. Park, Inc.
Defendants, State Five Industrial Park and Jean Farricielli, appealed from a trial court judgment holding them liable, after invoking both reverse and traditional veil piercing principles, for a $3.8 million judgment rendered against Jean's husband, Joseph Farricielli, and five corporations that he owned and/or controlled, in an environmental enforcement action brought by Plaintiffs, the commissioner of environmental protection, the town of Hamden, and the town's zoning enforcement officer. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment, holding that the facts that were proven in this case did not warrant reverse veil piercing, and judgment on Plaintiffs' veil piercing claims should be rendered in favor of Defendants.
Am. Diamond Exch., Inc. v. Alpert
Plaintiff, American Diamond Exchange, brought an action against Defendant, Jurgita Karobikaite, and her husband, Scott Alpert, after Alpert, who was working as an estate buyer for Plaintiff, diverted Plaintiff's customers so that he could personally purchase their jewelry. Defendant shared in the profits. A judgment of default was entered against Alpert. The court found Defendant liable for tortious interference with a business relationship or expectancy and civil conspiracy and awarded Plaintiff $118,000 in damages. On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the trial court as to damages and remanded for a recalculation of damages based on the existing record. On remand, the trial court awarded $103,355 in damages to Plaintiff. Defendant appealed, claiming, inter alia, that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence from which its lost profits could be determined with reasonable certainty. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant was not precluded from challenging the sufficiency of the evidence by failing to raise it in her direct appeal or because the appellate court decided the claim against her in the first appeal; and (2) the evidence was insufficient to support an award of damages.
Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Conn. v. Gauss
This was the second of two appeals arising from a property dispute between Plaintiffs, members of a local parish of the Episcopal church and the church, and Defendants, several present or former officers or vestry members of the parish. Plaintiffs brought an action against Defendants, alleging breach of trust for the wrongful failure to relinquish to Plaintiffs all of the real and personal property of the parish following a decision by a majority of the voting members of the parish, including Defendants, to withdraw from the diocese and to affiliate the parish with an ecclesiastical society that was not part of the Episcopal church. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the trial court properly (1) granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs and declared that the disputed property was held in trust for the Episcopal church, and that Defendants had no right or authority to occupy, use or possess the property; (2) ordered Defendants to relinquish possession, custody and control of the property to the Plaintiffs; and (3) permitted Plaintiffs to move for an order of accounting.
Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Conn. v. Gauss
This was the first of two appeals arising from a property dispute between members of a local parish of the Episcopal church and several present or former officers or vestry members of the parish. An unincorporated voluntary association attempted unsuccessfully to intervene in the action to protect its alleged ownership interest in the property. The association appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that the trial court improperly denied its motion to intervene and its request for an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in denying the motion because (1) the issues raised by the association were fully and fairly raised by the present pleadings, and (2) the association did not seek to intervene to assert a claim against Defendants. In addition, the Court held that there was a presumption of adequate representation because the record demonstrated that the identities of the association members and Defendants were overlapping and that they had the same ultimate objective.
HVT, Inc. v. Law
Plaintiff HVC Inc. was a trustee of the Honda Lease Trust. During the audit period at issue, several car dealerships entered into thousands of leases with customers (lessees) pursuant to lease plan agreements between the dealerships, the trust, and the servicer of the trust. Under the leases, the lessees were responsible for submitting the vehicle registration renewal application and renewal fees to the department of motor vehicles on behalf of the trust. Upon receipt of the renewal application and fee, the department sent the vehicle registration card to the trust, and the trust forwarded the vehicle registration card to the appropriate lessee. After conducting a sales and use tax audit for the audit period from April 1, 2001 through October 31, 2004, Defendant Pamela Law, the then commissioner of revenue services, issued a deficiency assessment against Plaintiff, concluding that the renewal fees constituted taxable gross receipts of the trust and, therefore, were subject to the sales tax. The trial court rendered summary judgment partially in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the renewal fees paid by the lessess qualified as Plaintiff's gross receipts subject to sales tax under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-408(1).
Mayfield v. Goshen Volunteer Fire Co.
Plaintiff, the commissioner of labor, applied to the superior court for a warrant to inspect the premises of Defendant, a fire company, to investigate whether the fire company was in compliance with the requirements of Connecticut's Occupational Safety and Health Act. The trial court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction the commissioner's warrant application, concluding that the fire company did not fall within the act's definition of a covered employer, which by statutory definition was "the state and any political subdivision thereof" because the fire company was an independent corporation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the fire company did not fall within the core definition of a political subdivision of the state.