Sanzo v. Sanzo
Because none of the parties filed a motion to open, the court lacked the authority to modify substantively an oral judgment rendered at a hearing in its subsequent written judgment. The plaintiffs, Karen and Kathleen Sanzo, owners of a 53.33 percent interest in certain property and assignees of municipal tax, water and sewer liens, brought this action seeking to foreclose the 46.67 percent interest of the defendants, their siblings, including David Sanzo. The trial court issued an oral judgment in open court ordering foreclosure by sale of the defendants 46.67 percent interest in the property. In the subsequent written notice of judgment, the court modified its oral judgment, sua sponte, and ordered foreclosure by sale of 100 percent of the property. The plaintiffs appealed claiming that the trial court improperly modified its initial judgment in violation of their due process rights to notice and an opportunity to be heard and abused its discretion in ordering a foreclosure by sale instead of a strict foreclosure. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment concluding that the court lacked the authority to open and to modify its initial judgment in the absence of a motion from one of the parties pursuant to prior case law, C.G.S. §52-212 and Practice Book §17-4. The oral ruling that the defendants interest would be foreclosed constituted a judgment. By stating that the written order constituted a correction of the judgment entered in court, the trial court acknowledged that its oral ruling was a judgment. The written notice of judgment modified substantively the judgment rendered earlier at the hearing and therefore opened and modified the original judgment. Because none of the parties filed a motion to open, the court lacked the authority to modify substantively the judgment rendered at the hearing. Further, the court failed to provide the plaintiffs with notice or an opportunity to be heard on its decision to open and to modify its judgment. The fact that the court opened and modified the judgment on the same day that it was initially rendered did not warrant a different conclusion.