Bank of New York as Trustee (BS ALT A 2005-9) v. Bell
Pursuant to Practice Book §13-6 and §13-9, the trial court had no authority to order the plaintiff to turn over documents that belonged to a separate nonparty entity and acted beyond the scope of its authority in holding the plaintiff in contempt for failing to do so. The plaintiff, the Bank of New York, as trustee for BS ALT A 2005-9, appealed from the trial court's judgment holding it in contempt for failing to comply with discovery orders issued in response to discovery requests of the defendants, Sonja Bell and Johnathan Bell. The plaintiff claimed, relevantly, that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to render the judgment of contempt because the plaintiff withdrew the action as of right prior to the court holding the plaintiff in contempt. Alternatively, the plaintiff claimed that the court lacked the authority to issue discovery orders requiring the plaintiff to turn over documents that belonged to another entity. The Appellate Court agreed with the second claim and reversed the trial court's judgment. Even assuming, without deciding, that the plaintiff withdrew its action against the defendants as of right immediately upon its filing a withdrawal form, a counterclaim remained pending against the plaintiff. The defendants argued in their motion for contempt that the plaintiff's failure to respond to their discovery requests, regarding all assets transferred between JP Morgan Chase and the Bank of New York, delayed their ability to proceed on their counterclaim. Given the pending counterclaim, the court did not lack subject matter jurisdiction. But, the discovery order required the plaintiff to respond to interrogatories and requests for production as trustee for BS ALT A 2005-9, the sole plaintiff, and on behalf of Bank of New York, a separate nonparty entity. Practice Book §13-6 and §13-9 permit parties to an action to serve interrogatories and requests for production only on other parties to that action. The court, having ordered the plaintiff to turn over documents that belonged to a nonparty and to other trusts, and having found the plaintiff in contempt for failing to do so, acted beyond the scope of its authority.