ELIZABETH C. HARRIS v. DWIGHT C. HARRIS, SC 17897

Judicial District of Hartford

 

Appellate Jurisdiction; Whether the Trial Court's Arrearage Award Constituted an Appealable Final Judgment. The parties' marriage was dissolved on July 29, 1994. On November 29, 2006, the trial court found the defendant in contempt of a financial order that required him to pay to the plaintiff "thirty-five percent of any . . . partnership distributions . . . or any other remunerations" received from a certain partnership. The court awarded the plaintiff $502,308.40 based upon consulting fees that the defendant had received from the partnership between 1996 and 2004, and $19,342.88 based upon partnership distributions that the defendant had received between 2000 and 2004. The court stated that both amounts were subject to further "audit" for the 2005 and 2006 years. The court also awarded the plaintiff 10% interest on her arrearage award pursuant to General Statutes 37-3a and ordered counsel to calculate the amount of prejudgment interest in accordance with its order and report their calculations to the court by December 6, 2006. If counsel could not agree as to how the interest should be calculated, the court ordered them to contact the court and arrange a date no later than December 13, 2006, "so the court could resolve that issue which basically is a mathematical calculation." On December 11, 2005, the defendant filed an objection to the plaintiff's method of calculating prejudgment interest, claiming, inter alia, that the plaintiff had improperly calculated prejudgment interest on a compound basis. Before the court could rule on the objection, the defendant filed an appeal from the trial court's judgment holding him in contempt. The Appellate Court, on its own motion, dismissed the appeal for lack of a final judgment because there had been no final determination of (a) damages for the years 2005 and 2006; see Stroiney v. Crescent Lake Tax District, 197 Conn. 82, 84 (1985); and (b) the amount of prejudgment interest on the damages that had been awarded; see Gianetti v. Meszoros, 268 Conn. 424 (2004). The Supreme Court has granted certification to appeal on the issue of whether the Appellate Court properly dismissed the appeal for lack of a final judgment. The defendant claims that the arrearage award was final because the determination of the arrearage for 2005 and 2006 involved only a ministerial mathematical calculation. He also claims that the prejudgment interest award was final under Gianetti and that the filing of a postjudgment, preappeal motion challenging the plaintiff's interest calculation was the equivalent of a motion to open the judgment and did not destroy the finality of that award.