Doyle Grp. v. Alaskans for Cuddy

Decision Date29 March 2016
Docket NumberNo. 36900.,36900.
Citation164 Conn.App. 209,137 A.3d 809
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesThe DOYLE GROUP v. ALASKANS FOR CUDDY.

164 Conn.App. 209
137 A.3d 809

The DOYLE GROUP
v.
ALASKANS FOR CUDDY.

No. 36900.

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Argued Oct. 27, 2015.
Decided March 29, 2016.


137 A.3d 810

James P. Sexton, with whom were Michael S. Taylor, Hartford, and, on the brief, Matthew C. Eagan, for the appellants (defendants).

Robert P. Hanahan, Waterbury, with whom, on the brief, was Terrence D. Mariani, for the appellee (plaintiff).

KELLER, MULLINS and KAHN, Js.

137 A.3d 811

MULLINS, J.

164 Conn.App. 212

The defendants, Alaskans for Cuddy and David Cuddy,1 appeal from the judgment of the trial court, supplementing its original judgment by adding contractual prejudgment interest and contractual attorney's fees to the damages awarded to the plaintiff, The Doyle Group, Inc. The defendants claim that the court improperly supplemented its judgment because (1) the plaintiff waived its right to request contractual prejudgment interest and attorney's fees, and (2) the court had no authority to award the interest and fees because it was required to open the judgment in order to do so, and more than four months had passed since it rendered judgment.

In the alternative, the defendants claim that the judgment forming the basis of the earlier appeal of this case; see Doyle Group v. Alaskans for Cuddy, 146 Conn.App. 341, 77 A.3d 880 (2013) ; was not final and the case was not ripe for appeal until the trial court ruled on the plaintiff's claim for contractual prejudgment interest and contractual attorney's fees, and that, therefore, our decision in the earlier appeal is void.2 We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts and procedural history, as set forth in the previous appeal, inform our review. “The plaintiff is a Connecticut based political consulting firm located in Hartford. In late 2007 into early 2008, Cuddy contemplated running in Alaska as a candidate for the United States Senate against then Senator Theodore

164 Conn.App. 213

‘Ted’ Stevens. In late February, 2008, following discussions between Cuddy and a principal of the plaintiff, Thomas J. D'Amore, Jr., the plaintiff's president, John A. Doyle, sent a proposed contract to Cuddy, who signed the contract on March 1, 2008. Cuddy sent the contract to the plaintiff in Connecticut along with his personal check for $10,000. On March 5, 2008, Doyle signed the contract and deposited Cuddy's check in the plaintiff's Webster Bank account.

“The first paragraph of the contract identifies the plaintiff and its address in Hartford. Among other things, the contract provides: ‘The first $10,000 payment shall be due on or before March 3, 2008 and subsequent payments on the first day of each of the succeeding months for which this Contract is in force....

“ ‘It is understood and agreed that the foregoing payments are to cover all in-state expenses of [the plaintiff].... Amounts incurred for out-of-state activities and/ or for expenses for the retention of [nonplaintiff] legal or other professional services shall only be reimbursed by the Client if he approves such expenses in writing in advance.

“ ‘This Contract is effective March 3, 2008 and shall be in force for 3 months.’

“In March and April, 2008, the plaintiff performed consulting work from Connecticut for the defendants. Consulting services were provided via numerous e-mails and telephone calls to Cuddy and his agents. The relationship between Cuddy and the plaintiff deteriorated, however, and Cuddy terminated the contract on April 10, 2008, without further payment to the plaintiff.” Id., at 343–44, 77 A.3d 880.

137 A.3d 812

The plaintiff brought an action against the defendants seeking, among other relief, “costs, interest, and legal fees as provided for by the contract.” Attached to the

164 Conn.App. 214

plaintiff's complaint was a copy of the parties' contract, which provided in relevant part: “In return for such services the Client agrees to pay [the plaintiff] $10,000 per month for each month this Contract is in force. The first $10,000 payment shall be due on or before March 3, 2008 and subsequent payments on the first day of each of the succeeding months for which this Contract is in force. Any payment not made within 60 days after it is due shall bear interest at the annual rate of 8 [percent]. If the Client does not make any payment within 30 days after it is due, [the plaintiff has] the right to terminate this Contract, and/or to require the Client to pay immediately all amounts then due plus the entire remainder of fees for the balance of the month term. The Client shall also be responsible for legal fees (not to exceed 33 [percent] of any overdue amount) incurred by [the plaintiff] in order to collect amounts due under this Contract.”

In January, 2012, the case was tried to a jury. During opening statements on January 4, 2012, the plaintiff's attorney explained to the jury that the plaintiff was “seeking the $20,000 that he ... claim[ed][was] still owe[d] on the contract ... and [that] there [was] also a provision in the contract ... for interest on the overdue balances and for lawyer's fees.” The plaintiff submitted to the court a request to charge, dated January 3, 2012, which included an instruction on both contractual attorney's fees and contractual prejudgment interest. Following the close of evidence on January 6, 2012, the court explained to counsel that it wanted to “put on the record [their] understanding concerning certain aspects of the contract involving attorney's fees and interest after argument, and [that it would] make that part of [its] instructions to the jury concerning those two items at the appropriate time.”3

164 Conn.App. 215

When reading its closing instructions to the jury, the court removed the issue of contractual interest and attorney's fees from the jury's consideration, by instructing: “Now, in this particular contract, there are provisions relating to interest and attorney's fees that may be awarded. You are not to take into consideration in this matter, during your deliberations, either one of those provisions, nor render any decision concerning those two particular items.”

Later, “[t]he jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on all counts and awarded the plaintiff $20,000 in damages as to both defendants. The court, Roche, J., denied the defendants' subsequent motion to set aside the verdict [on April 16, 2012, and it rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict that same day].” Doyle Group v. Alaskans for Cuddy, supra, 146 Conn.App. at 344, 77 A.3d 880. The defendants then appealed, and, on October 8, 2013, we affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Id., at 354, 77 A.3d 880.

While that appeal was pending, however, the plaintiff, on October 2, 2012, filed a motion for supplemental judgment with the trial court, requesting that the court add $13,797.11 to its judgment “in accordance with the provisions of the underlying contract, which entitles the plaintiff to interest of 8 percent on the overdue amount

137 A.3d 813

of $20,000 and legal fees not to exceed 33 percent, i.e., $6666.66, as provided for in the contract.” The defendants, on October 11, 2012, then filed an objection to the plaintiff's motion for supplemental judgment on the grounds that the trial court lacked statutory authority to entertain the motion, and that the judgment on the jury verdict was final and, therefore, could not be altered by adding fees and interest.

The plaintiff filed an amended motion for supplemental judgment on December 10, 2013, seeking additional

164 Conn.App. 216

interest. Thereafter, the court permitted the defendants an extension of time to respond, and the defendants, on March 4, 2014, filed an objection to the plaintiff's amended motion. In their memorandum in support of their objection, the defendants argued that the award of prejudgment interest is discretionary, that the plaintiff waived its right to postjudgment interest4 and that the court did not have the authority to open the judgment more than 120 days after rendering a judgment on the merits. On March 6, 2014, the defendants filed a supplemental memorandum in support of their objection, arguing that, pursuant to General Statutes § 52–212a,5 the court did not have authority to open the judgment as to the plaintiff's request for contractual attorney's fees.

On March 24, 2014, the court, Roche, J., conducted a hearing on the plaintiff's motion for supplemental judgment. After the hearing, the court ordered the parties to submit simultaneous supplemental posthearing briefs, which they provided. In their posthearing memorandum, the defendants argued (1) that the court had no authority to open the judgment pursuant to § 52–212a, (2) that prejudgment interest may only be awarded if money is withheld wrongfully, and that the jury needed to make such a finding, (3) that attorney's fees can be awarded only on the...

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  • Staurovsky v. City of Milford Police Dep't, 37670.
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    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • March 29, 2016
    ... ... 2 "Myocardial infarction is a synonym for heart attack ... " Doyle v. Kamm, 133 Conn.App. 25, 37 n. 8, 35 A.3d 308 (2012). 3 Titled ... ...
  • O & G Indus., Inc. v. Am. Home Assurance Co.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • May 18, 2021
    ...amount of attorney's fees for the litigation remains to be determined." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Doyle Group v. Alaskans for Cuddy , 164 Conn. App. 209, 218, 137 A.3d 809, cert. denied, 321 Conn. 924, 138 A.3d 284 (2016). Moreover, "[w]hether the claim for attorney's fees is base......
  • CCI Computerworks, LLC v. EverNet Consulting, LLC
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • September 5, 2023
    ...despite the fact that the amount of those fees has not yet been determined"); see also, e.g., Doyle Group v. Alaskans for Cuddy, 164 Conn.App. 209, 222, 137 A.3d 809 (judgment was final for purposes of appeal notwithstanding that, at time appeal was filed, there remained outstanding issues ......
  • United Amusements & Vending Co. v. Sabia
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • February 6, 2018
    ...attorney's fees outside of dicta or footnotes, this court applied the Paranteau bright line rule in Doyle Group v. Alaskans for Cuddy , 164 Conn. App. 209, 222, 137 A.3d 809, cert. denied, 321 Conn. 924, 138 A.3d 284 (2016), holding that "regardless of whether the issue of ... contractual a......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Post Judgment Interest in Civil Actions in Connecticut
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 92, 2019
    • Invalid date
    ...at same rate) contract Cosgrove Doyle Group v. Alaskans for Cuddy D. N. LLICV08-5007492S (4/11/14) 2014 Conn. Super. LEXIS 858, aff’d, 164 Conn. App. 209, 137 A.3d 809 (2016), cert. denied, 321 Conn. 924 (2016) (eight percent prejudgment interest; three percent postjudgment interest) contra......

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