Noyes v. Antiques At Pompey Hollow, LLC
Mere negligence is not evidence of a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Connecticut General Statutes §42-110a; but, here, the trial court's finding was not improper that the defendant's deceitful behavior regarding the plaintiff's antiques in his possession, excuses and unfulfilled promises to pay, constituted a violation of CUTPA. Following a bench trial, the court found that the plaintiff, Daphne Noyes, failed to prove breach of contract, conversion and emotional distress claims against Antiques at Pompey Hollow, LLC and Thomas Degnan, concerning antiques consigned to the defendants, but established unjust enrichment and CUTPA claims. The court awarded her $17,673.25 in damages with attorneys' fees of $10,290 and costs of $892.94. The defendants appealed claiming, first, that the court improperly found them liable for unjust enrichment and awarded the plaintiff damages. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The trial court found no breach of contract because the contract under which the plaintiff consigned 200 antiques to be sold at auction by the defendants terminated when the defendants sold some items at auction in Nov. 2008 and paid the plaintiff her share of the proceeds. The defendants did not return unsold antiques or notify the plaintiff of their intention to return them. The court found no new enforceable agreement and Degnan's explanation as to what happened with the remaining141 antiques and his documentation of sales was not credible. Degnan admitted to selling all but two of the plaintiff's antiques, but failed to provide an accounting or pay the plaintiff her share. The court's findings were not clearly erroneous or contrary to law that the defendants were benefited by selling the unaccounted for antiques, unjustly failed to pay the plaintiff her share and that this was detrimental to the plaintiff. The finding that the defendants' deceitful behavior constituted a violation of CUTPA was not improper. The court explicitly found that the defendants engaged in deceitful and deceptive conduct. The issue was not the conduct that led to the defendants' inability to account for 141 antiques, but Degnan's deceiving the plaintiff as to the antiques in his possession and his excuses and unfulfilled promises to pay. The attorneys' fee award was proper although the plaintiffs succeeded on only four of 10 counts because the same facts were relevant to all counts.