Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport


      Dissolution of Marriage; Distribution of Assets; Whether Brokerage Account Award was a Lump Sum Award; Whether Appellate Court Properly Remanded Case to Trial Court to Consider Claim for Postjudgment Interest Under General Statutes § 37-3a Instead of Reinstating Earlier Award.  The parties' marriage was dissolved in March, 2005.  As part of the court's distribution of assets, the plaintiff was awarded seventeen bank and brokerage accounts, totaling $89,039,617.68.  The court awarded the defendant a lump sum cash payment of $24,000,000, to be paid from the plaintiff's accounts.  On September 8, 2005, the court modified the award to correct an improper overvaluation of some of the parties' tangible assets.  It split the error fifty-fifty, resulting in a modified award of $23,834,900 to the defendant.  The defendant subsequently moved for contempt because the plaintiff had not paid her $3,828,081 of the modified award.  On March 23, 2006, the court denied the motion because it was not convinced that the plaintiff's conduct was wilful.  It, however, ordered that the plaintiff pay the defendant the unpaid balance with interest "at the legal rate" running from September 8, 2005.  The defendant again moved for contempt on the ground that the plaintiff improperly calculated the interest at a rate of eight percent, rather than ten percent as required by General Statutes § 37-3a.  On November 27, 2006, the court denied the motion for contempt but ruled that the plaintiff owed interest at the applicable  rate of ten percent under § 37-3a.  Subsequently, the court filed an articulation in which it stated that General Statutes § 37-1 was the statutory basis for the interest award, with the rate of interest being eight percent.  The plaintiff appealed and the defendant cross appealed these decisions to the Appellate Court (109 Conn. App. 691).  The plaintiff claimed that the trial court had awarded him a lump sum cash award of $89,039,617.68 and that the order that he pay the defendant $3,828,081 reduced his award and improperly modified the original distribution of assets.  The court disagreed, concluding that the trial court had awarded only the defendant a lump sum cash payment.  The plaintiff, it opined, had been awarded the accounts themselves, which had a fluctuating value.  Thus, the court concluded that the order that the plaintiff pay the amount that he withheld from her lump sum award was not a modification of the original distribution of assets.  The court also found that the trial court's reliance on § 37-1 was improper.  Because the trial court had issued conflicting decisions concerning the award of interest, the Appellate Court remanded the case for consideration of the defendant's claim for interest under § 37-3a, which will require the trial court to determine whether the plaintiff's detention of money was wrongful.  In doing so, it rejected the plaintiff's claim that the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion for contempt precluded, on remand, a finding that he wrongfully failed to pay the defendant the awarded moneys when they were due.  This court will now review the Appellate Court's application of § 37-3a, as well as its determination that the trial court did not improperly modify the original distribution of assets.  In addition, it will review the Appellate Court's decision to remand the matter to the trial court for a de novo hearing on the amount of interest instead of reinstating the court's November, 2006 award of interest.