Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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Defendant was an attorney who represented clients in contingency fee matters that originated while he was a member of a two-person law firm with Plaintiff. After the dissolution of that firm, Defendant continued to represent those clients, and those fees were not paid until after the dissolution. Plaintiff brought this action claiming that Defendant’s failure to pay him those fees constituted, inter alia, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The trial court concluded that Plaintiff was entitled to recover on his claim of unjust enrichment with respect to the contingency fee cases and found that Defendant owed Plaintiff $116,298.89. Defendant appealed, arguing that the award violated the fee splitting provisions of Rule 1.5(e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct because the clients had not consented to the fee sharing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly awarded Plaintiff a portion of the contingency fees that Defendant collected subsequent to the firm’s dissolution. View "Horner v. Bagnell" on Justia Law

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After being sanctioned, Plaintiff, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut, was suspended from practice before the Appellate Court for a period of six months. Plaintiff filed a writ of error, asserting that the Appellate Court abused its discretion in suspending her from practice because the conduct for which she was sanctioned did not violate rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Supreme Court dismissed the writ of error, holding (1) the Appellate Court did not abuse its discretion in suspending Plaintiff from the practice of law before the Appellate Court on the basis of her repeated failure to comply with Appellate Court rules and deadlines, and for filing a frivolous appeal; and (2) Plaintiff’s argument that rule 8.4 provides an exclusive list of misconduct for which an attorney may be sanctioned is patently frivolous. View "Miller v. Appellate Court" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Spouse divorced in 1979. In postdissolution proceedings during which Plaintiff sought modification of the alimony award, Spouse was represented by several different attorneys (Defendants). All defendants failed to disclose the true financial circumstances of Spouse. In 2008, the trial court ruled that information concerning Spouse's inheritance had been concealed from Plaintiff, causing Plaintiff to incur more than $400,000 in legal expenses and other costs. Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint against Defendants for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The superior court rendered judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that such claims against attorneys for conduct that occurred during judicial proceedings were barred as a matter of law by the doctrine of absolute immunity. The appellate court affirmed, determining that the claims were precluded by the litigation privilege. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the appellate court properly determined that attorneys are protected by the litigation privilege against claims of fraud for their conduct during judicial proceedings; and (2) therefore, Plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, which was derivative of his claim of fraud, was also properly rejected. View "Simms v. Seaman" on Justia Law

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The primary issue in this case was whether a nonparty attorney may bring a writ of error from a trial court's order requiring the attorney to comply with a clear and definite discovery request. The plaintiff in error, Finn, Dixon & Herling, LLP (Finn Dixon) brought this writ of error from an order of the trial court requiring it to comply with a subpoena duces tecum issued by the defendants in error, Shipman & Goodwin, LLP, and Carolyn Cavolo (Defendants), who were also the defendants in the underlying case. Finn Dixon contended that the trial court improperly denied its motion to quash, in which it claimed that Defendants sought materials protected by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) the trial court's order was an appealable final judgment; and (2) the trial court improperly denied Finn Dixon's motion to quash the subpoena. Remanded. View "Woodbury Knoll, LLC v. Shipman & Goodwin, LLP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Jonathan Keller and a group of business entities, filed a vexatious litigation claim against Defendant, executrix of the estate of Robert Beckenstein. The trial court concluded it lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' complaint because the claim had yet to ripen into a cognizable claim. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the appellate court improperly determined that the trial court correctly had concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' complaint at the time it was filed, as Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-363 provides the superior court a limited grant of jurisdiction over a complaint filed pursuant to that statute, even if the claim is not ripe when filed. View "Keller v. Beckenstein" on Justia Law