Krattenstein v. G. Fox & Co.

Decision Date05 December 1967
Citation155 Conn. 609,236 A.2d 466
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesMarilyn KRATTENSTEIN et al. v. G. FOX AND COMPANY, Inc.

Aaron P. Slitt, Hartford, for appellants (plaintiffs).

Aaron Nassau, Hartford, with whom was William J. White, Hartford, for appellee (defendant).

Before ALCORN, HOUSE, THIM, RYAN and COVELLO, JJ.

HOUSE, Associate Justice.

Mrs. Marilyn Krattenstein and her husband brought this action claiming $55,000 damages for injuries allegedly caused when a waitress employed by the defendant negligently spilled hot coffee on Mrs. Krattenstein's arm and leg. The case was tried to the court, which rendered judgment for the defendant. From this judgment both plaintiffs appealed. Since the husband's claim was limited to the medical expenses for his wife and therefore dependent upon the success of her appeal, in the interests of simplicity, we will here discuss only the merits of her appeal and refer to her as the plaintiff.

There was conflicting testimony concerning the incident which occurred while the waitress was serving the plaintiff in a restaurant operated by the defendant. The court observed in its memorandum of decision that '(t)he waitress' version of what occurred, which the court credits, is completely different from that of the plaintiff.' In its finding, the court expressly found that, although some coffee was spilled on the exposed lining of the plaintiff's coat, which was hanging at the side of the chair on which the plaintiff sat, no coffee was spilled into her lap, on her dress, or on her person. Furthermore, the plaintiff told the waitress that no coffee had gotten on her and that she was not injured. None of these findings by the court has been attacked. Under these circumstances, it is not necessary to consider the plaintiff's numerous assignments of error addressed to the court's finding of additional facts and its refusal to find others. The corrections sought would neither assist the plaintiff nor change the result in any way. Taylor v. Taylor, 154 Conn. 340, 341, 225 A.2d 196. The express and unattacked finding that no coffee spilled into the plaintiff's lap, on her dress or on her person amply supports the court's conclusion that the plaintiff failed to establish, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, the allegations in the complaint that the defendant's employee was guilty of a negligent act which was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's claimed injuries. We do not retry the facts or pass on the credibility of the witnesses. Triano v. Brodowy, 151 Conn. 445, 446, 199 A.2d 164. The trial court determines the credibility of the witnesses. Taylor v. Taylor, supra; Morrone v. Jose, 153 Conn. 275, 277, 216 A.2d 196. From the conflicting testimony, the court has found subordinate facts which fully support its conclusions. The plaintiff has not successfully attacked the judgment as rendered. Romaniello v. Dyna Distributors, Inc., 154 Conn. 605, 606, 227 A.2d 430.

One claim of error in an evidential ruling requires brief mention. During the cross-examination of the waitress, the plaintiff's counsel questioned her regarding what she observed with respect to the position of the plaintiff's arms as she approached the table. The waitress testified that the plaintiff's arms were extended in the process of either serving or returning the salad utensils. When counsel began a question, '(w)hat did you expect that her arms-', counsel for the defendant interrupted and said: 'I object to that.' The court said: 'Sustained.' The plaintiff's counsel then said: 'I'll take an exception to that, your Honor,' and the court said: 'exception.' Neither the grounds on which the objection was based nor the grounds of which the unfinished question was claimed were stated by counsel, as is required by Practice Book § 226. Since the plaintiff did not state the grounds on which she claimed the evidence to be admissible, the ruling is not reversible error. Megin v. Carney, 148 Conn. 130, 134, 167 A.2d 855; Casalo v. Claro, 147 Conn. 625, 630, 165 A.2d 153. Furthermore, since the court found that, in fact the waitress did not spill any coffee on the person of the plaintiff, she could not have been harmed by the ruling.

The plaintiff's remaining assignment of error relates to the action of the judge in presiding at the trial, which was to the court, after he had held a pretrial conference in his chambers and had urged a certain settlement of the case. The finding of the court relative to this assignment of error discloses that, on the day the case was reached on the court assignment list, it was marked ready for trial, subject to prior ready cases. At the conclusion of the call of the cases that day, the judge announced in open court that he would be available in chambers if counsel in any cases desired to confer with him. Counsel for the parties went into chambers and asked to discuss the present case. This portion of the relevant finding is the only portion attacked. The plaintiff claims that counsel did not seek the conference but attended it because the presiding judge asked to see them. There is nothing in the record to support either version. At the conference, counsel for the parties explained the nature of the case, each stated what he expected to prove at the trial and each disclosed his opinion as to the value of the case for settlement purposes. on the basis of this information, the judge commented to the effect that it appeared that the case could go either way, depending on what evidence was introduced at the trial, and he suggested a dollar amount for settlement purposes. Counsel for the plaintiff left the conference and returned to report that the judge's recommended figure was not acceptable to his client. Counsel for the defendant stated that he would not offer any amount in excess of the judge's figure, and the judge thereupon asked the plaintiff's counsel to talk again with his client regarding settlement. Counsel did so and subsequently reported that the...

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  • Ajadi v. Commissioner of Correction, No. 17497.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 28 Noviembre 2006
    ...at 203-205, 487 A.2d 191 (judge who had presided over settlement conferences also presided over trial); Krattenstein v. G. Fox & Co., 155 Conn. 609, 614-15, 236 A.2d 466 (1967) (same); State v. Kohlfuss, 152 Conn. 625, 628-31, 211 A.2d 143 (1965) (judge who had served on defendant's sentenc......
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    ...of a trial, and the philosophy or ideal of justice is served in the amicable solution of controversies." Krattenstein v. G. Fox & Co., 155 Conn. 609, 614, 236 A.2d 466 (1967). We have also acknowledged that, with appropriate judicial supervision, the "private settlement of the financial aff......
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    ...aside if it happens to be against them for a cause which was well known to them before or during the trial." Krattenstein v. G. Fox & Co., 155 Conn. 609, 616, 236 A.2d 466 (1965). See Timm v. Timm, 195 Conn. 202, 203-205, 487 A.2d 191 (1985). No attorney and no litigant may use a "heads I w......
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    ...& Chemical Corp. v. Commodities Trading International Corp., 211 Conn. 541, 553, 560 A.2d 419 (1989), quoting Krattenstein v. G. Fox & Co., 155 Conn. 609, 616, 236 A.2d 466 (1967). In New Haven v. Local 884, Council 4, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, 237 Conn. 378, 380, 677 A.2d 1350 (1996), we concluded ......
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