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Legal Case Study: Housing Authority of the City of West Haven v. CB Alexander Real Estate, LLC, et al.

The following is a legal case study from the law offices of Ciulla & Donofrio LLP in North Haven, CT.

In Housing Authority of the City of West Haven v. CB Alexander Real Estate, LLC, et al., Ciulla & Donofrio, LLP represented the former owners of 63 condominium units in West Haven. In 2004, the Housing Authority took the property by eminent domain. At trial, we won an additional $1,644,998 in compensation (plus interest at the rate of 10% per annum) for our clients. The Housing Authority appealed the trial court’s decision and the Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. Jeffrey Donofrio tried the case and argued the appeal.

We defended a medical stop loss insurance carrier and a Managing General Agent in a lawsuit brought in U.S. District Court wherein the plaintiff, a publicly traded company, alleged breach of contract, CUTPA, CUIPA, fraud and related claims. Plaintiff’s multi-million dollar claims arose out of the denial of multiple claims for reimbursement based upon the failure of the plaintiff to disclose medical conditions of the personnel at issue during the application and/or renewal process. We defeated the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, won summary judgment for our clients on the plaintiff’s largest claim and settled the remaining portion of the case at mediation.

We defended the plan supervisor of a self-funded health plan in a lawsuit brought in U.S. District Court wherein the plaintiff alleged claims for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and ERISA claims. We obtained dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims for breach of ERISA duties and settled the remaining claim at mediation.

We defended a life, health and disability insurer in multiple lawsuits alleging breach of contract and related tort claims arising out of the denial of benefits under the respective policies. We obtained summary judgment based upon the material misrepresentations made by the respective plaintiffs in connection with their applications for insurance.

We defended a construction equipment dealer sued by a uniform distributor for breach of contract. The plaintiff relied on the contractual liquidated damages clause. At trial, we argued that the liquidated damages clause was unenforceable because the plaintiff failed to prove that the Connecticut requirements for liquidated damages clauses were met. The Court agreed with us and entered judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $0.

Jeffrey M. Donofrio represents multiple municipalities in connection with a wide variety of construction projects, including elementary, middle and high schools, fire houses, police stations, animal shelters, libraries, Town Halls and athletic fields. The range of services we have provided have been similarly diverse, including drafting Requests for Proposals, Requests for Qualifications, Invitations to Bid, contract documents and other procurement documents; negotiating contracts with architects, construction managers, trade contractors, Owner’s representatives, commissioning agents, special inspectors, testing labs and other professional service providers; advising Building Committees on variety of contractual and construction issues, as well as FOIA compliance; drafting and negotiating Project Labor Agreements with the local Building Trades Council; counseling Towns as to claims management/avoidance; representing municipalities in mediation and arbitration proceedings, as well as litigation; counseling Towns and school districts as to how to comply with the school safety and security design standards created by the SSIC; and assisting Towns with other aspects of their projects.

We won a jury verdict in a Yellow Pages Collections case wherein we represented a national publishing company. The defendant alleged multiple counterclaims and we successfully defeated all of the counterclaims via directed verdict as to two of the claims and a jury verdict as to the remainder. The Defendants appealed to Connecticut Appellate Court, we successfully defended the appeal and then collected the verdict for our client.
We obtained a judgment at trial in a Yellow Pages collection case, both in our case in chief and on the defendant’s counterclaims for breach of contract, violations of the CUTPA and Connecticut Antitrust Act and related claims.

We represented a major commercial and industrial property owner in a real property tax appeal challenging a municipal tax assessment. At trial, the defendant claimed the subject property was worth in excess of $1.8 million based upon its “special use” status. We claimed that the property was worth substantially less and was not a “special use” property. The Court agreed with us and valued the property based upon the valuation evidence we presented at trial, resulting in a valuation reduction in excess of $1,000,000 for our client.

We defended the parents of a minor child who were sued for negligent supervision after their son hosted a social gathering while his parents were away for a weekend. An attendee of the social gathering allegedly consumed alcohol at the social gathering. The attendee later became involved in a serious one-car rollover accident in which the plaintiff, a passenger in the vehicle, suffered serious injuries. We moved for and won summary judgment because there was no liability for the defendant parents given that they owed no legal duty to the plaintiff.

We represented the plaintiff in an action involving a partnership dispute. Our client asserted causes of action based on breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, theft and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. We obtained a judgment against the defendant in the amount of $250,000.00.

In a lawsuit for personal injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident, we successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client, the defendant automobile leasing corporation. The Court based its decision on 49 U.S.C.A. §30106 and Connecticut General Statutes §14-154a, which limit the liability of automobile leasing companies.
We represented the plaintiff, an office building owner, in an insurance coverage dispute. Specifically, our client sued a contractor after its specialty windows had been damaged by the contractor. We obtained a judgment against the contractor on our client’s behalf in the amount of $224,000. We commenced a second action against the contractor’s insurer pursuant to the direct action statute, Connecticut General Statutes § 38a-321. We alleged that the contractor insurer’s denial of coverage was improper. The contractor’s insurer moved for summary judgment on the ground that certain insurance policy provisions excluded coverage under the contractor’s commercial general liability policy. We defeated the motion for summary judgment and successfully argued that a genuine issue of material existed as to whether the contractor’s work at issue fell within the insurance policy exclusions. Thereafter, the case settled for a confidential amount.

We successfully defended our client, The Southern New England Telephone Company, against claims for breach of contract, restitution, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act with respect to the purchase and installation of a telephone system for plaintiff’s business. In addition, we filed a counterclaim on behalf of our client, seeking damages for breach of contract. We obtained judgment in our client’s favor on the plaintiff’s complaint and obtained a sizeable judgment with respect to its counterclaim.
We obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client, a multi-million dollar publicly traded company, in a lawsuit involving an alleged breach of a lease agreement. We successfully argued there was no material breach of the lease, the proffered indemnity constituted a complete remedy, the lease allowed for extra time to cure the alleged breach and plaintiff never sufficiently notified our client of said breach. In addition, we argued that the arguments raised by the plaintiff were unenforceable pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §42-158l.

We represented several defendants in product liability actions brought by multiple individual plaintiffs that were injured after receiving an electrical shock as a result of our clients’ alleged defective products. After the conclusion of pre-trial discovery, we moved for summary judgment on behalf of our clients. We successfully argued that our clients were not product sellers under the Connecticut Product Liability Act, Connecticut General Statutes §52-572 et seq. In granting the motion for summary judgment, the Court also agreed with our argument that the plaintiffs failed to provide any evidence to support their theory that the products at issue were defective in nature.

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