Fountain Pointe, LLC v. Calpitano
Under Connecticut General Statutes §47-33j, a plaintiff need only prove that the defendant has recorded a claim "for the purpose of slandering the title to land…." The court found the following facts. Richard Rotundo and Rick Calpitano formed Fountain Pointe, LLC, to purchase and develop properties for commercial use and sale. Rotundo was general contractor and developer while Calpitano handled financial aspects. Calpitano transferred his 50 percent interest to his sister Liliana Calpitano. Rotundo and Rick Calpitano disputed sums Rick Calpitano claimed from the anticipated sale of unit A in Fountain Pointe Professional Park to Rotundo Developers for $1.8 million. Rick Calpitano threatened Rotundo by email to "make sure that this deal doesn't close until hell freezes over" and "legally bury you for years to come," if his demands were unmet. Days later, two mortgages were recorded, securing notes to the Calpitano Family Living Trust. Rotundo learned of the mortgages, notes and the trusts' foreclosure action, during a title search for financing on the pending sale. The transaction halted. Fountain Pointe, LLC, brought this action against Liliana Calpitano, individually and as trustee of the Calpitano Family Living Trust, and Rick Calpitano. The trial court rendered judgment for the plaintiff, declaring the mortgages invalid and finding that the defendants had committed slander of title in violation of C.G.S. §47-33j. The defendant appealed, raising multiple claims. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The finding that the mortgages lacked consideration was not clearly erroneous. The court properly concluded that the plaintiff had standing and properly denied the defendant's motion to dismiss. Under an action to quiet title pursuant to C.G.S. §47-31, any person having any interest in real property affected by a mortgage, the validity of which is being challenged, may bring an action to quiet title and seek to have the court declare the mortgage invalid. The plaintiff was found to have a cognizable interest in affected units, including unit A from the sales contract and contingent deeds. The trial court properly held the defendants liable for slander of title under C.G.S. §47-33j. The plaintiff was not required, as claimed, to prove it demanded the mortgages released. Sufficient evidence supported the finding of malice, including the email and defendants' inability to provide evidence of valid consideration for the mortgages.