Thompson Gardens West Condominium Association, Inc. v. Masto
As explained in the 2011 Connecticut Appellate Court case of Highgate Condominium Association v. Miler, "a judgment of strict foreclosure ordinarily cannot be opened after the law day has passed, [unless] the judgment [is] attacked on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction over the party challenging it." Thompson Gardens West Condominium Association, Inc., brought an action to foreclose a lien on a condominium unit against owner Daniel Masto and New Century Mortgage Corporation, the record mortgage holder listed on the land records. New Century was served by state marshal, via certified mail, in accordance with C.G.S. §33-929. The marshal received a signed return receipt. The condominium association received a facsimile from someone purportedly acting for "New Century Liquidating Trust" asserting that service was "ineffective" because New Century had filed for bankruptcy and transferred or sold its loan accounts. Masto and New Century were defaulted for failure to appear. The court rendered a judgment of strict foreclosure. On Aug. 12, 2010, after Masto and New Century failed to redeem, title vested in the association. In Oct. 2010, an appearance was filed for New Century. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, "as indenture trustee for New Century," filed a motion to be substituted as party defendant alleging it was the current mortgage holder. The court granted the motion to substitute but denied a motion to open and vacate the judgment of strict foreclosure filed on Feb. 2, 2011. Although troubled by the nondisclosure of the facsimile, the court found it lacked jurisdiction to open the judgment. Deutsche Bank appealed. The Appellate Court agreed that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the motion but found the form of the judgment improper because no practical relief was available to Deutsche Bank. The judgment was reversed and the case remanded with direction to dismiss the motion rather than deny it. The facsimile purportedly sent to the association from the trust did not somehow render ineffective service that comported with C.G.S. §33-929. Because service properly had been effectuated on New Century, the mortgagee listed on the land records, in accordance with the statutory requirements, the court lacked jurisdiction pursuant to C.G.S. §49-15 to grant the motion to open, filed nearly eight months after judgment and six months after title had vested in the association.