GAIL A. CAHALY v. BENISTAR PROPERTY EXCHANGE TRUST COMPANY, INC., et al., SC 16892

Judicial District of Hartford

 

Prejudgment Remedy; Whether Plaintiff in Foreign Action may Attach Defendant's Connecticut Property to Secure Potential Judgment in Foreign Action. The defendant Benistar Property Exchange Trust Company, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of the defendant Benistar, Ltd. The defendant Daniel E. Carpenter is chairman and secretary of both entities. The plaintiff, along with several others, brought suit against the defendants in Massachusetts, claiming financial losses due to the improper conduct of the defendants. The plaintiffs filed a motion for prejudgment security, which the Massachusetts court granted, except as to Carpenter individually. In order to secure the defendants' Connecticut assets, the plaintiff subsequently filed an application for prejudgment remedy in this state, which the trial court granted. The defendants appealed from that decision, claiming, among other things, that this state's prejudgment remedy statutes, General Statutes 52-278a et seq., prohibit a plaintiff in a foreign action from attaching a defendant's Connecticut assets to secure a judgment that the plaintiff might receive in the foreign action. They cited specifically to 52-278d (a), which states in pertinent part that a prejudgment remedy application shall be granted if the court finds that there is probable cause that "a judgment will be rendered in the matter in the plaintiff's favor in the amount of the prejudgment remedy sought." They argued that the phrase "in the matter" mandates that a lawsuit must be pending, or at least anticipated, in a Connecticut court. The Appellate Court rejected (73 Conn. App. 267) that claim, concluding that the prejudgment remedy statutes do not contain a blanket prohibition that bars a plaintiff in a foreign action from obtaining a prejudgment remedy to secure assets in this state. It also rejected the defendants' claim that the trial court abused its discretion by granting a prejudgment remedy against Carpenter that is inconsistent with the prior order of the Massachusetts court, noting that there could be many reasons, other than the merits of the plaintiffs' claim, that the Massachusetts court did not grant the motion for prejudgment security as against Carpenter. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the trial court's granting of a prejudgment remedy against the defendants.