Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.