Kung v. Deng
In the 2000 decision of Conway v. Hartford, the Appellate Court specified that "[w]hen a motion to open is filed more than 20 days after the judgment, the appeal from the denial of that motion can test only whether the trial court abused its discretion in failing to open the judgment and not the propriety of the merits of the underlying judgment." Lina Kung and Ngan-Qiu Fung commenced this negligence action against the defendants including Charles Deng, alleging injuries arising out of an automobile accident. The plaintiffs responded to the defendants' interrogatories and requests for production but failed to provide copies of various requested medical records. The court twice ordered the plaintiffs to produce those records and warned that failure to produce the records by July 31, 2010 would result in a dismissal of the case. On Sept. 7, 2010, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion for extension of time and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. On Jan. 6, 2011, the plaintiffs filed a motion to open the judgment of dismissal pursuant to C.G.S. §52-212 and Practice Book §17-4, arguing that they had made efforts to comply with discovery and had given the defendants the medical records obtained. The court denied the motion. The plaintiffs appealed. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. Neither the appeal nor the motion to open the judgment was filed within 20 days from the judgment of dismissal. Therefore, only the court's action on the plaintiffs' motion to open was considered and not an argument concerning the merits of the judgment of dismissal. The plaintiffs argued that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion to open because, despite much effort, plaintiffs' counsel was unable to obtain all of the requested records, but had provided those records obtained. However, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the plaintiffs had not satisfied the requirements for opening the judgment pursuant to C.G.S. §52-212(a) and that the failure to comply fully with discovery did not constitute a mistake, accident or reasonable cause to open the judgment. Despite having more than two years in which to comply and having received two orders to provide the requested records, the plaintiffs failed to do so.