Bruno v. Whipple
A defendant has no obligation to specially plead facts tending to disprove any allegations of the plaintiff's complaint that he has not admitted in his answer because, by generally denying such allegations or leaving the plaintiff to her proof, he gives clear notice that such allegations are disputed and will be at issue in the case. The plaintiff, Lisa Bruno, appealed from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court for the defendant, Reed Whipple, on claims of breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, C.G.S. §42-110a. The claims arose from the construction by the defendant, Heritage Homes Construction Company, LLC, a limited liability company owned by Whipple and his wife, of a new home for the plaintiff and her then husband, Stephen Bruno. The plaintiff argued, first, that Whipple was not entitled to seek summary judgment on the ground that he was not a party to the contract because he failed to plead his nonparty status as a special defense. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment as to the CUTPA claim and otherwise affirmed the judgment. Because the plaintiff pleaded that Whipple was a party to the contract, he was entitled to disprove the allegation as a basis for seeking summary judgment without pleading it as a special defense. The trial court properly found that the plaintiff failed to present evidence that Whipple, who signed the contract as a member of Heritage Homes, was a party to the contract. However, the CUTPA claim did not depend upon such a contractual relationship, as the trial court found. The allegations were sufficient to state a claim that Whipple personally colluded with Bruno on behalf of Heritage Homes by conspiring with him to submit billings for work not performed to launder Bruno's money through Heritage Homes' accounts and secretly return it to Bruno to decrease the apparent marital assets. The alleged purpose and effect of this collusive behavior, was to cause the plaintiff an ascertainable loss of money or property, which she would otherwise have received in her dissolution action. Whipple could be held personally liable to an injured third party even if, as alleged, he engaged in such conduct as an officer or agent of Heritage Homes.