Demattio v. Plunkett, AC 41283

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtMOLL, J.
Citation199 Conn.App. 693,238 A.3d 24
Parties Arthur M. DEMATTIO v. Robert PLUNKETT et al.
Decision Date25 August 2020
Docket NumberAC 41283

199 Conn.App. 693
238 A.3d 24

Arthur M. DEMATTIO
v.
Robert PLUNKETT et al.

AC 41283

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Argued October 22, 2019
Officially released August 25, 2020


238 A.3d 28

Arthur M. DeMattio, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).

Gregory J. Williams, Fairfield, with whom, on the brief, was Todd H. Lampert, New Canaan, for the appellees (defendants).

Moll, Devlin and Pellegrino, Js.*

MOLL, J.

238 A.3d 29
199 Conn.App. 695

The self-represented plaintiff contractor, Arthur M. DeMattio, appeals from the judgment of the trial court, rendered following a bench trial, in favor of the defendant homeowners, Robert Plunkett and Karen Plunkett, on the plaintiff's complaint and the defendants’ counterclaim in the amount of $21,720.34. On appeal, the plaintiff's claims distill to whether the trial court erred by (1) concluding that the home improvement contract entered into among the parties (contract) was invalid and unenforceable against the defendants as a result of the contract's noncompliance with the Home Improvement Act (HIA), General Statutes § 20-418 et seq., (2) making numerous factual findings contrary to the evidence presented at trial, (3) failing to determine that the defendants did not mitigate their damages, (4) improperly calculating its damages award, and (5) acting in a biased manner toward the plaintiff.1 We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The trial court found the following facts. On January 12, 2015, the plaintiff and the defendants entered into the contract for the purpose of remodeling, and building an addition to, the defendants’ kitchen. The

199 Conn.App. 696

contract price totaled $86,300, to be paid in six installments throughout the course of the renovations. Pursuant to the contract, the start date was March 9, 2015, with a completion date of May 11, 2015. The plaintiff did not begin work until May, 2015, and the specified completion date in the contract was not extended as a result of the delay.

On October 21, 2015, the plaintiff ceased work for the defendants. The plaintiff maintained that the defendants terminated him on that date; the defendants claimed that he simply ‘‘walked off the job.’’ The plaintiff contended that he had completed the work entitling him to the fourth installment payment of $15,600, while the defendants maintained that they had overpaid the plaintiff based on, in their view, the lack of progress he had made by that point.

On January 19, 2016, the plaintiff commenced this action. The plaintiff's seven count complaint asserted the following claims against the defendants: breach of contract; account stated; quasi-contract; quantum meruit; unjust enrichment; fraud; and civil conspiracy. On March 1, 2016, the defendants filed an answer and special defenses, the first of which alleged that the contract violated the HIA in various ways, including the lack of the statutorily required notice of cancellation. The defendants also filed a two count counterclaim, asserting claims for a breach of contract and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110a et seq. On May 13, 2016, the plaintiff filed a reply to the defendants’ special defenses, as well as an answer and special defenses to the defendants’ counterclaim, the reply to which was filed on July 12, 2017. On July 13, 2017, the defendants filed a request for leave to amend their counterclaim and appended the proposed amendment, which was

238 A.3d 30

deemed to have been filed by consent absent objection.

199 Conn.App. 697

On July 21, 2017, the plaintiff filed an answer and special defenses to the amended counterclaim.

The matter was tried to the court on August 6 and 30, and October 4, 2017.2 Following the trial, on October 13, 2017, the plaintiff withdrew all counts of his complaint, with the exception of the breach of contract claim, relating to which the plaintiff sought compensatory damages in the amount of $15,920, comprising the fourth installment of $15,600 and the amount of $320 alleged to be owed for asbestos testing. Also on that date, the defendants withdrew their CUTPA claim against the plaintiff, leaving only the breach of contract claim. The parties submitted posttrial briefs.

On December 19, 2017, the court issued its memorandum of decision. With respect to the plaintiff's breach of contract claim, the court concluded that the contract failed to comply with the HIA, specifically, General Statutes § 42-135a, in six respects, which we discuss in part I of this opinion, rendering the contract unenforceable against the defendants. With respect to the defendants’ breach of contract claim, the court found in favor of the defendants and awarded them $21,720.34 in compensatory damages with judgment rendered accordingly. On December 22, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion for reargument and a motion for articulation. On January 2, 2018, the trial court denied both motions.

This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

I

The plaintiff first claims that the trial court erred in concluding that the contract was rendered unenforceable against the defendants as a result of the contract's noncompliance with the HIA.3 The plaintiff principally

199 Conn.App. 698

argues that (1) the court erred in finding that the contract's use of the term ‘‘rescission’’—instead of ‘‘cancellation,’’ as required by the HIA, with respect to an owner's cancellation rights—was not merely technically noncompliant, and (2) with respect to the court's finding that the contract did not include a notice of cancellation, (a) the trial court erred in finding credible Karen Plunkett's testimony that the defendants did not receive a separate copy of the required notice of cancellation (which the plaintiff did not produce at trial) and (b) he located, posttrial, the original, signed contract with an endorsed, detachable notice of cancellation, which he contends this court should now consider. The defendants respond that the trial court correctly held that the contract was unenforceable against the defendants as a result of its noncompliance with the HIA, and that such noncompliance was substantial and material. We agree with the defendants.4

In order to put the plaintiff's claim in its proper context, we begin our analysis by setting forth the standard of

238 A.3d 31

review and applicable legal principles. ‘‘The determination of the requirements of the HIA is a matter of statutory construction and, therefore, a matter of law over which this court's review is plenary.’’ Wright Bros. Builders, Inc. v. Dowling , 247 Conn. 218, 226, 720 A.2d 235 (1998). ‘‘When construing a statute, [the court's] fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the legislature. ... In other words, [the court seeks] to determine, in a reasoned manner, the meaning of the statutory language as applied to the facts of [the] case, including the question

199 Conn.App. 699

of whether the language actually does apply. ... In seeking to determine that meaning ... [General Statutes] § 1-2z directs [the court] first to consider the text of the statute itself and its relationship to other statutes. If, after examining such text and considering such relationship, the meaning of such text is plain and unambiguous and does not yield absurd or unworkable results, extratextual evidence of the meaning of the statute shall not be considered. ... The test to determine ambiguity is whether the statute, when read in context, is susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation.’’ (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Estate of Brooks v. Commissioner of Revenue Services , 325 Conn. 705, 712–13, 159 A.3d 1149 (2017), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S. Ct. 1181, 200 L. Ed. 2d 314 (2018).

The starting point of our statutory analysis under the HIA is General Statutes § 20-429,5 which provides in relevant part: ‘‘(a) (1) (A) No home improvement contract shall be valid or enforceable against an owner unless it: (i) Is in writing, (ii) is signed by the owner and the contractor, (iii) contains the entire agreement between the owner and the contractor, (iv) contains the date of the transaction, (v) contains the name and address of the contractor and the contractor's registration number, (vi) contains a notice of the owner's cancellation rights in accordance with the provisions of chapter 740 , (vii) contains a starting date and completion date, [and] (viii) is entered into by a registered salesman or registered contractor ....

‘‘(c) The contractor shall provide and deliver to the owner, without charge, a completed copy of the home

199 Conn.App. 700

improvement contract at the time such contract is executed. ...

‘‘(e) Each home improvement contract...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 practice notes
  • Town of New Milford v. Standard Demolition Servs., Inc., AC 43874
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 26, 2022
    ...with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 721–22, 238 A.3d 24 (2020).A The plaintiff claims that the court erred in determining that the contract's liquidated damages provision 212......
  • Costanzo v. Town of Plainfield, AC 42765
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • October 13, 2020
    ...the outset, we note that this task 239 A.3d 379 presents a question of law subject to plenary review. See, e.g., DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 698, 238 A.3d 24 (2020). "When construing a statute, [the court's] fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparen......
  • Batista v. Cortes, AC 43244
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 23, 2021
    ...by a motion for disqualification or the claim will be deemed to be waived." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 724, 238 A.3d 24 (2020). At no time 248 A.3d 770 during the proceeding did the father ask the judge to recuse herself or move to disqual......
  • Johnson v. Johnson, AC 42984
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 23, 2021
    ...a motion for disqualification or a motion for [a] mistrial"); we review his claim for plain error. See, e.g., DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 724, 238 A.3d 24 (2020) (unpreserved claim of judicial bias reviewable under plain error doctrine).4 The defendant also states: "Furthermo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Town of New Milford v. Standard Demolition Servs., Inc., AC 43874
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 26, 2022
    ...with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 721–22, 238 A.3d 24 (2020).A The plaintiff claims that the court erred in determining that the contract's liquidated damages provision 212......
  • Costanzo v. Town of Plainfield, AC 42765
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • October 13, 2020
    ...the outset, we note that this task 239 A.3d 379 presents a question of law subject to plenary review. See, e.g., DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 698, 238 A.3d 24 (2020). "When construing a statute, [the court's] fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparen......
  • Batista v. Cortes, AC 43244
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 23, 2021
    ...by a motion for disqualification or the claim will be deemed to be waived." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 724, 238 A.3d 24 (2020). At no time 248 A.3d 770 during the proceeding did the father ask the judge to recuse herself or move to disqual......
  • Johnson v. Johnson, AC 42984
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 23, 2021
    ...a motion for disqualification or a motion for [a] mistrial"); we review his claim for plain error. See, e.g., DeMattio v. Plunkett , 199 Conn. App. 693, 724, 238 A.3d 24 (2020) (unpreserved claim of judicial bias reviewable under plain error doctrine).4 The defendant also states: "Furthermo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT