Connecticut Light & Power v. Spencer
A judgment debtor may be entitled to keep funds that originate from Social Security, even if the judgment debtor did not file a claim exemption form timely, within 15 days of notice. On Oct. 17, 2011, the plaintiff, Connecticut Light & Power, obtained a judgment against the defendant, Rosa Spencer, in the amount of $8,402. Connecticut Light & Power requested an execution on Spencer's bank account. The execution issued on April 17, 2012, and the state marshal executed it on Sept. 1, 2012. The defendant moved for an exemption from execution on Nov. 1, 2012 and argued that the money in her bank account consisted of Social Security funds that were exempt from bank executions. Connecticut Light & Power objected that the defendant was required to file an exemption claim within 15 days. Connecticut General Statutes §52-376b provides, "If no claim of exemption . . . is received by the financial institution within fifteen days of the mailing to the judgment debtor . . . [an] exemption claim form pursuant to section (d) of this section, the financial institution shall, upon demand, forthwith pay the serving officer the amount removed from the judgment debtor's account." The court found that the statutory language in C.G.S. §52-376b was "directory," as opposed to "mandatory." Statutes that protect exempted funds, such as Social Security funds, are remedial and are to be liberally construed. "It would be inimical to the remedial nature of the statutes," wrote the court, "to construe them in a fashion that deprives a person of otherwise protected funds simply because the exemption was not received by a financial institution within fifteen days after it had mailed notice to the judgment debtor." The court ordered the plaintiff to return $847 to the judgment debtor.