Nat'l Bank Trust v. Yurov

Decision Date22 February 2022
Docket NumberAC 44329
Citation210 Conn.App. 776,271 A.3d 171
Parties NATIONAL BANK TRUST v. Ilya YUROV et al.
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals

Jeffrey Hellman, for the appellant (defendant Sergey Belyaev).

Joshua W. Cohen, New Haven, and Andrew M. Ammirati, Hartford, for the appellee (plaintiff).

Cradle, Clark and Palmer, Js.

CRADLE, J.

In this action stemming from the alleged fraud against the plaintiff, National Bank Trust, by the defendant Sergey Belyaev, 1 the defendant appeals from the denial of his motion to open and dismiss or stay the enforcement of a certified foreign judgment filed by the plaintiff. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court improperly (1) concluded that the certified judgment was a foreign judgment as defined by General Statutes § 50a-31 (2) because it did not grant the recovery of a sum of money; (2) concluded that the certification required by General Statutes § 52-605 (a) may be signed by counsel rather than the judgment creditor; and (3) refused to open the judgment when the contract between the plaintiff and the defendant required that all disputes be resolved in accordance with Russian law in Russian courts. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following procedural history is relevant to the resolution of the defendant's claims on appeal. On January 23, 2020, the Commercial Court of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales (UK court) issued a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the plaintiff had suffered significant financial losses as a result of fraud perpetrated by the defendant and certain of his codefendants.2 On June 30, 2020, the plaintiff filed a certification of the judgment in the Superior Court pursuant to General Statutes §§ 50a-33 and 52-605 (a).3 In the certification, which was signed by counsel for the plaintiff, the plaintiff alleged that the judgment had not been satisfied, that the enforcement of the judgment had not been stayed, and that the approximate amount due to the plaintiff, as of June 12, 2020, was $900 million. The certification also alleged that the defendant owns property located at 85 Bishop Lane in Avon.

On August 17, 2020, the defendant filed a motion to open and either dismiss or stay the enforcement of the certified judgment on the grounds that the foreign judgment was not entitled recognition because (1) it was not a judgment of a "foreign state granting or denying recovery of a sum of money" as required by § 50a-31 (2) ; (2) it was not a "final and conclusive" judgment under § 50a-32 because it was "in the process of being appealed"; (3) the certification was signed by counsel for the plaintiff, rather than the judgment creditor, as required by §§ 50a-33 and 52-605 ; (4) the defendant was entitled to a stay of the enforcement of the judgment because he was in the process of appealing it; and (5) the UK court did not have personal jurisdiction over the defendant. On September 29, 2020, the court summarily denied the defendant's motion. This appeal followed.

On November 2, 2020, the defendant filed a motion for articulation of the court's denial of his motion, followed by an amended motion for articulation filed on November 3, 2020. On November 23, 2020, the court filed an articulation of its denial of the defendant's motion. In its articulation, the court indicated that it had considered and rejected all of the arguments raised by the defendant in his motion to open and either dismiss or stay the enforcement of the certified judgment. The court held that the certified judgment was a final and conclusive foreign judgment that granted the recovery of a sum of money, that the plaintiff's counsel was not prohibited from signing the certification of that judgment, that the defendant had waived the issue of personal jurisdiction when he appeared before the UK court, that the defendant did not dispute receiving a copy of the filed certification, and that there was no appeal pending of the certified judgment.

On appeal, the defendant claims that the court erred (1) in concluding that the certified judgment was a foreign judgment as defined by § 50a-31 (2) because it did not grant the recovery of a sum of money; (2) in holding that the plaintiff's counsel could sign the certification under § 52-605 (a) ; and (3) in denying the motion to open the judgment when the contract required that all disputes be resolved in accordance with Russian law in Russian courts.4 We address each claim in turn.

I

The defendant first claims that the court erred in concluding that the certified judgment was a foreign judgment under § 50a-31 (2) because it is not a judgment "granting or denying recovery of a sum of money."5 We disagree.

In order to address the defendant's claim, we must construe the judgment of the UK court. "Because [t]he construction of a judgment is a question of law for the court ... our review of the ... claim is plenary. As a general rule, judgments are to be construed in the same fashion as other written instruments. ... The determinative factor is the intention of the court as gathered from all parts of the judgment. ... The interpretation of a judgment may involve the circumstances surrounding the making of the judgment. ... Effect must be given to that which is clearly implied as well as to that which is expressed. ... The judgment should admit of a consistent construction as a whole." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Anketell v. Kulldorff , 207 Conn. App. 807, 821, 263 A.3d 972, cert. denied, 340 Conn. 905, 263 A.3d 821 (2021).

In rejecting the defendant's claim that the UK judgment was not a judgment granting or denying the recovery of a sum of money, the trial court reasoned, inter alia: "[T]he UK court issued the certified judgment finding that the [defendant] caused specific monetary losses to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff was entitled to recover those losses from the [defendant]. The [defendant's] contention that no sum of money was awarded [is] without merit and [flies] in the face of the lengthy certified judgment itself. ...

"The [defendant] conceded that the certified judgment, which was hundreds of pages long, was described by the UK court as a judgment. The UK court found that the [defendant's] actions caused the plaintiff's financial collapse. The UK court set forth specific dollar amounts that the [defendant] and the two others were responsible for and the reasoning for its decision. The amounts set forth in its decision specifically corresponded with the amounts set forth in the exhibit A attached to [the] plaintiff's opposition. See certified judgment, ¶¶ 1, 1213, 1235, 1460, 1493, 1522, 1544, 1587, 1650, 1651, 1652, 1655, 1656, 1699, 1710, 1726, 1729, 1735, 1743, 1777, 1801, 1867, 1868, 1891 and 1892. It is readily apparent that in the certified judgment, the UK court awarded a sum of money to the plaintiff. ...

"In the plaintiff's opposition, the plaintiff attached as exhibit A, a two page order dated January 23, 2020,6 with two schedules setting forth transactions and monetary amounts. The UK court also noted in this order that other issues, such as pre[judgment] and postjudgment interest, would be determined later. (Exhibit A to plaintiff's opposition ¶ 3.)....

"The [defendant] stated that exhibit A, ‘may be a valid judgment’ but then argued that this matter should be dismissed, stayed or the judgment opened. The [defendant] argued that because the plaintiff provided this court with exhibit A in September, 2020, the certified judgment which was filed in June, 2020, was fatally flawed. This court disagrees. The certified judgment is a judgment granting the plaintiff a recovery of a sum of money. Indeed the monetary amounts set forth in the certified judgment mirror the amounts set forth in exhibit A, which the judgment debtor acknowledges may be a valid judgment." (Footnote omitted.) The court concluded: "A review of the 570 page certified judgment filed in this case shows that it is a judgment awarding the plaintiff a sum of money."

On the basis of the foregoing, the trial court concluded that the judgment of the UK court was a judgment granting the recovery of a sum of money in accordance with § 50a-31 (2). We agree. The plaintiff's claim against the defendant arose from financial losses that it suffered as a result of the defendant's fraudulent conduct, and the judgment of the UK court is replete with references to and findings of those losses, some of which the trial court aptly cited in its articulation. The defendant argues that the UK judgment does not satisfy § 50a-31 (2) because "it does not specify the amount against [the defendant] and the amount cannot merely be mathematically calculated." He contends that, although the various sections of the judgment cited by the trial court set forth losses suffered by the plaintiff or amounts owed to the plaintiff, they do not grant the plaintiff a "specific sum against [the defendant]." The defendant further contends that the court improperly relied on exhibit A to support its conclusion that the certified judgment provided for the recovery of a sum of money because it "was not part of the judgment and is not properly before the trial court for purposes of determining the validity of the judgment." We are not persuaded.

The defendant ignores the trial court's explicit reference to several portions of the UK judgment that initially was filed by the plaintiff. It is clear from the face of exhibit A, that it is part of the UK judgment7 and, in construing that judgment, we are bound, as noted herein, to consider it in its entirety. The defendant has provided no authority for his contention that the plaintiff's failure to file exhibit A with its original filing precluded the trial court from considering it as part of the UK judgment. Moreover, the defendant does not challenge the authenticity of either the document that originally was filed by the plaintiff or exhibit A that was...

To continue reading

Request your trial

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