Rider v. Rider

Citation200 Conn.App. 466,239 A.3d 357
Decision Date29 September 2020
Docket NumberAC 42570
CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Parties Patrick RIDER v. Brian RIDER, Executor (Estate of Leigh Rider), et al.

Matthew S. Carlone, Wethersfield, for the appellant (plaintiff).

Charles D. Houlihan, Jr., Simsbury, for the appellees (named defendant et al.).

Kerry R. Callahan, Hartford, with whom was Jeffrey E. Renaud, for the appellee (defendant Franklin G. Pilicy ).

Franklin G. Pilicy, Watertown, for the appellee (defendant Lake Williams Campground Association, Inc.).

DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Elgo, Js.*


This appeal stems from a family dispute among a father and his two sons. In an effort to revive his claims to ownership of a campground parcel, the plaintiff, Patrick Rider, has created an appellate argument reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster,1 as he has stitched together aspects of four separate matters: a probate proceeding, a bankruptcy action, a separate 2017 civil action (2017 action) and the underlying action in an effort to reverse the judgment of the trial court. The plaintiff appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motions to dismiss filed by the defendants, Brian Rider, individually and in his capacities as the executor and conservator of the estate of Leigh H. Rider, Jr. (Leigh Rider), Lake Williams Campground, Inc., Lake Williams Campground Association, Inc. (Association), Charles D. Houlihan, Jr., and Franklin G. Pilicy. The plaintiff and Brian Rider are the sons of Leigh Rider. On appeal, the plaintiff presents, for the first time, a collateral challenge to the appointment by the Probate Court of North Central Connecticut (Probate Court) of Brian Rider as conservator for Leigh Rider and the subsequent conveyance of a campground property from the conserved Leigh Rider to the Association. The plaintiff further contends that the trial court improperly dismissed his complaint on the ground that he lacked standing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

As we recently have stated, "[w]hen a ... court decides a jurisdictional question raised by a pretrial motion to dismiss, it must consider the allegations of the complaint in their most favorable light.... In this regard, a court must take the facts to be those alleged in the complaint, including those necessarily implied from the allegations, construing them in a manner most favorable to the pleader.... The motion to dismiss ... admits all facts which are well pleaded, invokes the existing record and must be decided upon that alone." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State Marshal Assn. of Connecticut, Inc. v. Johnson , 198 Conn. App. 392, 394, 234 A.3d 111 (2020).

The plaintiff commenced the underlying action on April 17, 2018, by service of an eight count complaint. The plaintiff brought this action against Brian Rider individually and in his capacity as the executor of the estate of Leigh Rider, who died on December 2, 2017. He also sued Brian Rider in his capacity as the conservator of Leigh Rider, a position that Brian Rider held from July 27 to September 28, 2017. Additionally, the plaintiff named the Lake Williams Campground, Inc., and the Association as defendants. The plaintiff described the Lake Williams Campground, Inc., as a "Connecticut common interest cooperative community consisting of subdivided parcels of real property created pursuant to the [d]eclaration of Lake Williams Campground," and these parcels, as subdivided, are known as "Units." The declaration created the Association. Finally, the plaintiff named in his complaint two attorneys, Houlihan and Pilicy, who represented certain defendants at relevant times in these proceedings.

The plaintiff alleged that, in 2009, Leigh Rider and his wife, Sandra Rider,2 owned a parcel of property known as "Unit #1." At that time, Leigh Rider and Sandra Rider wanted the plaintiff to join the Association's board of directors and take over control of its financial affairs. As a prerequisite, the plaintiff needed to become an owner of a Unit in the campground. Thus, "Leigh and Sandra Rider represented to the plaintiff that they would transfer title to Unit #1 to the plaintiff in exchange for the plaintiff agreeing to become a member of the board of directors for at least two (2) years." The plaintiff agreed to this plan, and Leigh Rider represented that title to Unit #1 had been conveyed to the plaintiff, who accepted a position on the board of directors. The plaintiff subsequently learned that the quitclaim deed that was to transfer ownership of Unit #1 to him had not been recorded, and that the Association and Lake Williams Campground, Inc., had potential ownership claims to that parcel. The plaintiff alleged a cause of action to quiet title to Unit #1, pursuant to General Statutes § 47-31, in count one of his complaint. In the second count of his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that he previously had commenced the 2017 action,3 seeking, inter alia, to quiet title and, or, to obtain an equitable lien on Unit #1.

Counts three and four set forth claims of fraud against Brian Rider, as conservator for Leigh Rider, and Houlihan, who was counsel for Brian Rider as conservator, while counts five and six alleged that Pilicy and the Association were "accessories" to fraud. Regarding these counts, the plaintiff alleged that as part of the 2017 action, he had recorded a lis pendens in the Lebanon land records. Approximately four months later, Leigh Rider filed a petition in the Probate Court voluntarily seeking the appointment of a conservator.4 The Probate Court granted his petition and appointed Brian Rider as conservator.

Leigh Rider subsequently filed a request for release from the voluntary conservatorship, but before that request could be acted on, Brian Rider, as conservator, entered into a contract to sell certain properties owned by Leigh Rider to the Association; Unit #1 was not part of this transaction. One day before the termination of the voluntary conservatorship, the Probate Court approved the sale of Leigh Rider's properties. Later that day, Brian Rider, as conservator, executed a deed conveying Unit #1 from Leigh Rider to the Association. The deed was recorded on the land records the next day. According to the plaintiff's complaint, Houlihan and Pilicy witnessed the deed and were aware of the 2017 action and the lis pendens encumbering Unit #1.

On October 14, 2017, the plaintiff and Leigh Rider reached a settlement whereby Leigh Rider agreed to transfer title of Unit #1 to the plaintiff in exchange for the withdrawal of the 2017 action. Approximately six weeks later, the plaintiff received a letter from the Association stating that it owned Unit #1. In response, the plaintiff notified the relevant parties that Unit #1 should not have been included in the sale of Leigh Rider's properties and that they should take all necessary steps to remedy the situation.

Count seven of the plaintiff's complaint incorporated most of the plaintiff's prior allegations as stated in counts one through six and set forth a claim of breach of fiduciary duty as to Brian Rider, as conservator. Finally, in count eight of the complaint, the plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that the deed transferring Unit #1 to the Association in the absence of approval from the Probate Court was void. In his prayer for relief, the plaintiff requested an order establishing his ownership of Unit #1, an equitable lien as to Unit #1, a declaratory judgment declaring that the transfer of Unit #1 to the Association was void, money damages, attorney's fees and costs.

On June 6, 2018, Brian Rider, individually and in his capacities as executor and conservator, and Lake Williams Campground, Inc., filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint. Specifically, these defendants argued, inter alia, that the plaintiff had filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in August, 2014,5 and, as a result, his interest in Unit #1 became the property of the bankruptcy estate. These defendants, therefore, claimed that the plaintiff lacked standing. Houlihan filed a similar motion on the same day. One week later, Pilicy raised the same standing argument in his motion to dismiss. On July 25, 2018, the plaintiff acknowledged that the three motions to dismiss were "substantively identical" and filed a single objection in response. The court heard argument from the parties on August 6, 2018.6

On October 12, 2018, the court, Hon. Emmet L. Cosgrove, judge trial referee, issued a memorandum of decision granting the motions to dismiss filed by the defendants.7 At the outset of its analysis, the court stated: "The defendants’ main argument is that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff lacks standing because he failed to disclose his interest in Unit #1 when he voluntarily declared bankruptcy in 2014. Accordingly, his interest in Unit #1 remains with his bankruptcy trustee, who possess[es] the sole right to exercise that interest but is not a party to this action." The court concluded that the plaintiff had been aware of his potential interest in Unit #1 in 2009, prior to his filing of the bankruptcy petition, but had failed to include it in either the initial 2014 bankruptcy petition or in any subsequent amendments.8 As a result of this failure, his claims relating to Unit #1 belonged solely to the bankruptcy trustee.9

On November 30, 2018, the plaintiff moved for reargument and reconsideration of the decision to dismiss his complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. He argued, inter alia, that counts three through eight of the complaint did not pertain to his 2009 agreement with Leigh Rider; those counts, he claimed, arose from the October 14, 2017 quitclaim deed transferring Unit #1 to him, which was part of the agreement to withdraw the 2017 action. On January 4, 2019, the court denied the plaintiff's motion, concluding that the plaintiff failed to plead facts that would...

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3 cases
  • Bank of N.Y. Mellon v. Tope
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • February 9, 2021
    ...be raised at any time during the proceedings ... including on appeal ...." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Rider v. Rider , 200 Conn. App. 466, 478, 239 A.3d 357 (2020)."Our jurisprudence, however, has recognized limits to raising a collateral attack setting forth a claim of lack of sub......
  • Klass v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • January 11, 2022
    ...(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Hudson Valley Bank v. Kissel, 303 Conn. 614, 624, 35 A.3d 260 (2012) ; see Rider v. Rider , 200 Conn. App. 466, 486 n.14, 239 A.3d 357 (2020). The trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting the plaintiff's motion to reargue and reconsider. In it......
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, Nat'l Ass'n v. Essaghof
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • December 20, 2022
    ...judgment lacked even an arguable basis for jurisdiction." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Rider v. Rider , 200 Conn. App. 466, 479–80, 239 A.3d 357 (2020) ; see also Hirtle v. Hirtle , 217 Conn. 394, 401–402, 586 A.2d 578 (1991) (party advocating collateral attack on ......

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