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Connecticut Court of Appeals Holds Failure to File a Materially Different Amended Complaint Waived Plaintiff’s Right to Appeal Lower Court’s Ruling to Strike Amended Complaint

Banking, Blogs

Mary Ann Ring v. Litchfield Bancorp., AC 39111 (Conn. App. Ct. 2017). The Connecticut Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff had waived her right to appeal a trial court’s ruling striking her amended complaint which failed to allege any additional facts or to alter any of the material allegations from the original complaint. The plaintiff had paid $40,000 to Chamberlin Kitchen & Bath, LLC (“Chamberlin”) to remediate water damage at the plaintiff’s home, but Chamberlin never provided the labor or materials. However, it deposited the payment into its account with the defendant bank. The bank set off funds in Chamberlin’s account and when informed, Chamberlin told the bank that some of the funds belonged to plaintiff. The bank refused to return plaintiff’s payment, alleging that,in the absence of a seasonable stop payment order or a designation that the money was being held for the benefit of someone else, once deposited, the money became the account owner’s. Plaintiff alleged the bank violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”).

The trial court granted the bank’s motion to strike the complaint and amended complaint, stating that the allegations made were insufficient to support the elements of a claim under CUTPA, including failure to allege that: the bank owed the plaintiff a duty as a consumer; the bank engaged in an act or practice that was against public policy, immoral, unethical, oppressive or unscrupulous; or that the bank had consciously departed from standard business norms. Plaintiff appealed, claiming the trial court erred in striking her amended complaint. The bank argued that striking the amended complaint was proper because it did not support a CUTPA claim, and that plaintiff had waived her right to appeal the original decision. The Appellate Court agreed with the bank and held that plaintiff had waived her right to appeal the original decision by failing to file an amended complaint that corrected the deficiencies identified by the trial court when it granted the motion to strike the original complaint. It declined to further address the merits of plaintiff’s claim, and affirmed the trial court’s ruling striking the amended complaint.