Appellate Court Notes
Welcome to our Supreme and Appellate Court summaries page. Here, I provide abbreviated summaries of decisions from the Connecticut appellate courts which highlight important issues and developments in Connecticut law, and provide practical practice pointers to litigants. I have been summarizing these court decisions internally for our firm for more than 10 years, and providing relevant highlights to my municipal and insurance practice clients for almost as long. It was suggested that a wider audience might appreciate brief summaries of recent rulings that condense often long and confusing decisions down to their basic elements. These summaries are limited to the civil litigation decisions. I may from time to time add commentary, and may even criticize a decision’s reasoning. Such commentary is solely my own personal opinion.. I hope the reader finds these summaries helpful. – Edward P. McCreery
Supreme Court Advance Release Opinions:
- SC19376 – MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. v. Malloy
Electronic Mortgage Recording Systems, of which currently MERS is the only real player, account for 65% of all CT residential mortgages. Under that system, the original mortgage is only recorded once upon the local land records in the name of MERS as its nominee holder. Thereafter, MERS keeps track of the mortgage’s assignments between its members without any further recordings upon the local land records. In 2013, the CT legislature, to raise funds, decided that MERS type mortgages would have to pay two to three times in “Recording Fees” over what a standard mortgagee pays for recording the mortgage, any assignment, or any release. The plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of their paying two times plus what other mortgagees have to pay for recording fees. The Supreme Court rejected the claim regardless of whether the fee was considered a revenue raising “tax,” or a “users fee.” Inequalities that result from a singling out of one particular class for taxation or exemption, infringe no constitutional limitation. The fee has a legitimate purpose, either to raise funds, or to compensate from the loss of the fees that would otherwise be paid when the MERS mortgage goes through a series of assignments to investor pool assignees without the assignments being recorded on the local land records. The burden was upon the plaintiff to debunk these plausible explanations for the legislature’s actions, not for the State to prove the reasons really existed. Nor does the fee disparity violate the “dormant, a.k.a. ‘negative,’ commerce clause” of the U.S. Constitution by taxing interstate commerce transactions unfairly and without good reason as compared to local intra-state transactions.
- SC19508 – Studer v. Studer
Trial Court properly applied the law of the jurisdiction where the parties obtained their original judgment of divorce in a subsequent proceeding to modify the child support obligations of the ex-husband. Florida would allow a modification of the original decree to change the husband’s support obligations from “until the child reached 18” to “an indefinite period” because of the autistic condition of the child. Therefore a Connecticut Judge could apply Florida law to modify the child support in that manner.
The facts and holdings of any case may be redacted, paraphrased or condensed for ease of reading. No summary can be an exact rendering of any decision, however, so interested readers are referred to the full decisions. The docket number of each case is a hyperlink to the Connecticut Judicial Department online slip opinion.