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Legal Malpractice & Attorney Discipline Law

Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3337

AC40465 - Costello v. Goldstein & Peck, P.C. ("The plaintiffs, James T. Costello and Dorothy Smulley Costello, appeal from the judgment of the trial court, rendered subsequent to its granting of the motion to strike the second amended complaint filed by the defendants, Goldstein & Peck, P.C. (law firm), William J. Kupinse, Jr., and Andrew M. McPherson. The plaintiffs claim that the court (1) improperly granted the defendants' motion to strike, (2) failed to consider alternatives to striking the complaint, and (3) improperly denied the plaintiffs' claim for costs pursuant to General Statutes § 52-243. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3318

AC40432 - Dubinsky v. Reich ("The plaintiff, David Dubinsky, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants, Veronica Reich and Bai, Pollack, Blueweiss & Mulcahey, P.C. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that the defendants were entitled to absolute immunity. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3264

AC40466 - Bozelko v. D'Amato ("In this legal malpractice action, the plaintiff, Chandra Bozelko, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Tina Sypek D'Amato and the Law Offices of Tina Sypek D'Amato. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to disclose an expert witness in support of her malpractice claim. The plaintiff challenges the summary judgment on the grounds that expert testimony was unnecessary to prove her claim of legal malpractice because her allegations against D'Amato fit the gross negligence exception to the expert testimony requirement for legal malpractice claims and expert testimony is not required when a legal malpractice case is tried to the court rather than to a jury. Because the plaintiff failed to disclose an expert witness who would testify that her alleged injury was caused by D'Amato's alleged grossly negligent representation of her, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3251

AC39709 - Cannatelli v. Statewide Grievance Committee ("The self-represented plaintiff, Frank P. Cannatelli, appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing his appeal from a decision of the defendant, Statewide Grievance Committee, and from the court's subsequent denial of his motion to reargue the judgment of dismissal. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his appeal for lack of an appealable final judgment. We affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3186

AC40203 - Dubinsky v. Black ("The plaintiff, David Dubinsky, appeals from the summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendant, Kevin M. Black, in this legal malpractice action predicated on the defendant's alleged failure to advise the plaintiff that his acceptance of a plea offer in a criminal proceeding would preclude him from subsequently pursuing an action for malicious prosecution. In rendering summary judgment, the court concluded, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff could not prevail on such an action, as probable cause existed to charge him with the crime of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21. The plaintiff now challenges the propriety of that determination. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3120

AC40362 - Taylor v. Wallace ("The plaintiff, David Taylor, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his one count complaint sounding in legal malpractice against the defendant, Anthony Wallace. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in (1) dismissing the complaint; (2) concluding that the plaintiff lacked standing to assert his claim of fraud; and (3) denying the plaintiff's motion for reargument. The defendant claims that the action was not ripe because the underlying conviction had not been vacated. We affirm the judgment.")


Attorney Discipline Supreme Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3106

SC20059 - D'Attilo v. Statewide Grievance Committee ("The plaintiffs, Daniel Jacob D'Attilo, Cathy M. D'Attilo, and Domenic D'Attilo, appeal from the judgment of the trial court dismissing the present action, which was brought against the defendants, the Statewide Grievance Committee, the Fairfield Grievance Panel (Fairfield panel), and the Stamford-Norwalk Grievance Panel (Stamford panel), seeking a writ of mandamus and injunctive relief in challenging their handling of the plaintiffs' grievance complaints against seven attorneys. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that they were statutorily and classically aggrieved by certain decisions of those local panels dismissing their grievance complaints against five of those attorneys, and by certain other actions of the Statewide Grievance Committee with respect to the proceedings against the other two. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the present action for lack of standing.")


Declaratory Judgment Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3101

SC19923 - Mendillo v. Tinley, Renehan & Dost, LLP ("In this appeal, we consider whether the Superior Court has subject matter jurisdiction over a declaratory judgment action brought as a collateral attack on a judgment of the Appellate Court concerning the plaintiff, George E. Mendillo. The plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing his declaratory judgment action against the defendants, the law firm of Tinley, Renehan & Dost, LLP (law firm), and the Connecticut Appellate Court. On appeal, the plaintiff, who is an attorney, claims that the trial court improperly concluded that his challenge to the Appellate Court’s interpretation of rule 4.2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in Sowell v. DiCara, 161 Conn. App. 102, 127 A.3d 356, cert. denied, 320 Conn. 909, 128 A.3d 953 (2015), was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. We, however, do not reach the sovereign immunity issues raised by the plaintiff because we agree with the defendants’ alternative jurisdictional argument, and conclude that the plaintiff’s collateral attack on Sowell in this declaratory judgment action is nonjusticiable under Valvo v. Freedom of Information Commission, 294 Conn. 534, 985 A.2d 1052 (2010). Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3089

AC39507 - Corneroli v. Kutz ("The plaintiff in this legal malpractice action, Louis D. Corneroli, appeals from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Ronald W. Kutz and Kutz & Prokop, LLP. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly (1) rendered summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the basis of its conclusion that there was insufficient expert testimony on the issue of causation, and (2) considered certain documents filed by the defendants. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3035

AC38128 - Kuehl v. Koskoff ("Except in obvious situations, expert testimony generally is required to establish the element of causation in a legal malpractice case. See Bozelko v. Papastavros, 323 Conn. 275, 284–85, 147 A.3d 1023 (2016). 'Because a determination of what result should have occurred if the attorney had not been negligent usually is beyond the field of ordinary knowledge and experience possessed by a juror, expert testimony generally will be necessary to provide the essential nexus between the attorney's [alleged] error and the plaintiff's damages.' Id., 285.

"In this legal malpractice action, the defendants, Rosalind J. Koskoff and the law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C., appeal from the judgment of the trial court rendered, after a jury trial, in favor of the plaintiff, Sylvia N. Kuehl. To summarize, this protracted litigation concerns the plaintiff's contention that the defendants breached the duty of care they owed her during their representation of her in an underlying personal injury action involving her late husband, Guenther Kuehl (decedent), when the defendants failed to file a claim for survivor's benefits under our Workers' Compensation Act (act), General Statutes § 31-275 et seq., within a year of his death. At trial, the defendants claimed that the plaintiff failed to prove the proximate cause element of a negligence cause of action because she failed to present expert testimony that, more likely than not, she would have been awarded survivor's benefits under the act if the defendants had submitted her claim. On appeal, the defendants claim that the trial court improperly denied their motion for a directed verdict, motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and motion to set aside the verdict. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2980

SC19892 - Disciplinary Counsel v. Hickey ("After the defendant, Thomas J. Hickey, voluntarily resigned from the bar of this state, he filed an application for reinstatement, and the plaintiffs, Disciplinary Counsel, and the Statewide Grievance Committee (committee), filed motions to dismiss the defendant’s application for reinstatement. The issue that we must resolve in this appeal is whether the trial court properly granted the plaintiffs’ motions to dismiss the defendant’s application for reinstatement to the bar on the ground that the defendant had resigned from the bar and waived his right to apply for reinstatement. The defendant contends that the trial court incorrectly determined that the portion of Practice Book § 2-53 (b) providing that ‘[n]o attorney who has resigned from the bar and waived the privilege of applying for readmission or reinstatement to the bar at any future time hall be eligible to apply for readmission or reinstatement to the bar,’ which became effective January 1, 2014, applied retroactively to his application for reinstatement filed in 2012. The defendant also claims that, under Practice Book (2012) § 2-53 (a), which, according to him, is the rule of practice that the trial court should have applied to his application, the court had no authority to entertain the plaintiffs’ motions to dismiss on the ground that he was ineligible to apply for reinstatement but, rather, was required to forward his application to a standing committee on recommendations for admission to the bar (standing committee) for a determination of that issue.

We conclude that the trial court correctly determined that the defendant was ineligible to apply for reinstatement to the bar as the result of his voluntary resignation and waiver of his right to apply for reinstatement, regardless of whether Practice Book § 2-53 (b) is retroactive. We further conclude that the trial court was not required to forward the defendant’s application to a standing committee and properly granted the plaintiffs’ motions to dismiss. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Misconduct Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=761

AC39856 - Picard v. Guilford House, LLC ("This matter comes before this court on a writ of error brought by the plaintiff in error, Linda Lehmann, former attorney for the plaintiff in the underlying action, Angela Picard. The plaintiff in error challenges the order of the trial court, Miller, J. imposing financial sanctions upon her for misconduct while conducting an out-of-state deposition in the underlying action. We conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the challenged sanctions. Accordingly, we dismiss the writ of error.")


Attorney Discipline Supreme Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=642

SC19796- Chief Disciplinary Counsel v. Rozbicki ("The defendant, Zbigniew S. Rozbicki, an Attorney, appeals from the judgment of the trial court, rendered following presentment by the plaintiff, Chief Disciplinary Counsel, concluding that he had violated rules 3.1, 8.2 (a), and 8.4 (4) of the Rules of Professional Conduct and suspending him from the practice of law for a period of four years. In challenging the trial court's judgment, the defendant raises a multitude of claims, including the following: (1) that the trial court violated his constitutional right to due process; (2) that the allegations in the presentment were barred under the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel; (3) that the plaintiff failed to prove professional misconduct by clear and convincing evidence; and (4) that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing a four year suspension without considering certain factors set forth in the American Bar Association's Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions (standards). We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Judicial Branch Now Publishing Headnotes for its Supreme & Appellate Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=534

The Judicial Branch has announced that it is now publishing a syllabus (headnote) at the top of each Supreme and Appellate Court opinion:

The Judicial Branch is now posting online headnotes for both Supreme and Appellate Court opinions. These headnotes, which accompany individual Supreme and Appellate Court decisions, include a short summary of the ruling and the procedural history of a case. The Reporter of Judicial Decisions prepares the headnotes, which are not part of the opinion. As such, the opinion alone should be relied upon for the reasoning behind the decision [Emphasis added].

Subscribe to a case law category (or categories) of your choice through our Email Digest or RSS delivery services to receive the latest cases from the Supreme or Appellate Courts delivered directly to your inbox.


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=425

AC38181 - Rendahl v. Peluso (Breach of fiduciary duty; legal malpractice; "The plaintiff, Joy M. Rendahl, individually and as administratrix of the estate of her deceased mother, Frances M. Rendahl, brought this action against the defendants, Frank N. Peluso and his law firm, the Law Offices of Frank N. Peluso, P.C. (collectively, the defendant), to recover damages, inter alia, for breach of fiduciary duty, legal malpractice, and wilful, wanton, and reckless misconduct based upon the defendant's alleged mishandling of his responsibilities as the executor of and the attorney for the estate. Following an eight day trial and two days of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant on all counts. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed two motions to set aside the verdict, alleging, in the first motion, that the court erred in declining to accept an earlier verdict by the same jury, assertedly awarding her punitive damages on her claim of breach of fiduciary duty, and requiring the jury, under supplemental instructions, to continue its deliberations and make further factual findings before returning its final verdict; and, in the second motion, that the court erred in refusing to admit certain relevant, material evidence at trial. On June 30, 2015, the trial court, Povodator, J., denied both motions. This appeal followed.

On appeal, the plaintiff reasserts the claims presented in her motions to set aside the verdict, and seeks reversal of the court's judgment based upon the denial of those motions. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Attorney Discipline Supreme Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=420

SC19698 - Disciplinary Counsel v. Elder ("The issue that we must decide in this case is whether the six year limitation period set forth in Practice Book § 2-32 (a) (2) (E) constitutes a mandatory bar to grievance complaints brought after that six year limitation period has expired or whether the provision, instead, is discretionary. On April 4, 2014, Wesley S. Spears filed a grievance complaint against the defendant, Attorney Joseph Elder, alleging that the defendant had engaged in professional misconduct in 2004. A reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee conducted a hearing on the grievance complaint and found by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant had violated certain of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The reviewing committee also directed the plaintiff, the Disciplinary Counsel, to bring this presentment action against the defendant. After the plaintiff brought this action in 2015, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the action was barred by § 2-32 (a) (2) (E). The trial court concluded that the time limitation set forth in § 2-32 (a) (2) (E) is not mandatory and denied the motion to dismiss. After a trial to the court, the trial court concluded that the defendant had violated certain of the Rules of Professional Conduct and ordered that the defendant be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year. The defendant then filed this appeal. We conclude that § 2-32 (a) (2) (E) bars grievance complaints that are not brought within the six year limitation period unless one of the exceptions set forth in § 2-32 (a) (2) (E) (i) or (ii) applies. Because none of these exceptions applies in the present case, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case to that court with direction to grant the defendant's motion to dismiss.")


Attorney Discipline Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=323

AC38387 - Disciplinary Counsel v. Sporn ("The respondent, Judith B. Sporn, appeals from the judgment of the trial court suspending her from the practice of law for violating several Rules of Professional Conduct and Practice Book § 2-27. She claims on appeal that the court abused its discretion by: (1) granting the motion in limine of the petitioner, Disciplinary Counsel, seeking to preclude proposed expert testimony on the subject of immigration law; and (2) imposing a two year suspension. We affirm the judgment of the court.")


Attorney Discipline Supreme Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=266

SC19535 - Disciplinary Counsel v. Parnoff ("In this appeal, we are asked to decide whether an attorney who knowingly appropriated client funds, but did not intend to do so wrongly, 'knowingly misappropriated' those funds and is therefore subject to mandatory disbarment pursuant to Practice Book § 2-47A. The plaintiff, Disciplinary Counsel, appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court, which affirmed the judgment of the trial court reprimanding the defendant, Laurence Parnoff, rather than disbarring him pursuant to § 2-47A. Disciplinary Counsel v. Parnoff, 158 Conn. App. 454, 482, 119 A.3d 621 (2015). The plaintiff contends that the trial court improperly interpreted § 2-47A to mandate disbarment only if an attorney appropriates client funds knowingly and with the wrongful intent to steal them. Regardless of the defendant's intent, the plaintiff claims, the defendant’s knowledge that the funds he appropriated were disputed is sufficient to disbar him. We conclude that § 2-47A mandates disbarment only when an attorney misappropriates a client’s funds both knowingly and intentionally—that is, when an attorney steals from his or her client. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Legal Malpractice Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=118

SC19495 - Bozelko v. Papastavros (Legal malpractice; breach of fiduciary duty; "This case raises the question of whether a plaintiff's failure to produce expert testimony on the issue of causation is fatal to her claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty by an attorney. The plaintiff, Chandra A. Bozelko, appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court, which affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of the defendant, Angelica N. Papastavros.The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment after precluding the plaintiff from presenting expert testimony due to her failure to disclose an expert witness by a date previously ordered.The plaintiff contends, inter alia, that summary judgment was improper because expert testimony was unnecessary to prove her claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court. ")


Legal Malpractice Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=66

AC37589 - Straw Pond Associates, LLC v. Fitzpatrick, Mariano & Santos, P.C. ("In this legal malpractice action, the plaintiffs, Straw Pond Associates, LLC, Straw Pond Real Estate, LLC, Straw Pond Holdings, LLC, and CUDA Associates, LLC, appeal from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Fitzpatrick, Mariano & Santos, P.C. (firm), and Edward G. Fitzpatrick, an attorney in the firm. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that the court erred in granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment by (1) adjudicating, rather than identifying, issues of fact, (2) concluding that their claims were barred by the statute of limitations, and (3) deciding that there were no issues of fact as to the defendants' alleged breach of fiduciary duty. We agree with the plaintiffs' first two claims and, therefore, reverse, in part, the judgment of the trial court.")


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