U.S. Bank N.A. v. Coley
Connecticut General Statutes §42-150bb provides, "Whenever any contract or lease entered into on or after October 1, 1979, to which a consumer is a party, provides for the attorney's fee of the commercial party to be paid by the consumer, an attorney's fee shall be awarded as a matter of law to the consumer who successfully prosecutes or defends an action or a counterclaim based upon the contract or lease." The plaintiff, U.S. Bank, filed a foreclosure suit against the defendant, Kenneth Coley, alleging that the plaintiff bank was the holder of a mortgage and note and that the defendant defaulted. After the Connecticut Superior Court granted judgment of strict foreclosure to the plaintiff, the defendant moved to open and to modify the judgment. In 2011, the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss, because the plaintiff lacked standing. The defendant requested attorneys' fees, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §42-150bb, and the plaintiff objected that the statute does not apply to a mortgage. The court rejected the plaintiff's claim it should apply the definition of consumer "contract" in C.G.S. §42-151 to the defendant's request for attorneys' fees under C.G.S. §42-150bb. C.G.S. §42-150bb clearly authorizes an award of attorney's fees to the consumer who successfully prosecutes or defends an action or a counterclaim based on a consumer contract or lease, pursuant to Aaron Manor Inc. v. Irving, a decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court. The defendant's mortgage constituted a contract and the property that was the subject of the transaction is primarily for personal, family or household purposes. The defendant is entitled to attorneys' fees for a successful defense, pursuant to C.G.S. §42-150bb. The defendant defended the plaintiff's claim and obtained the dismissal of the foreclosure complaint. The court will schedule an evidentiary hearing, to decide the amount of the attorneys' fees.