Connecticut commercial litigators sometimes overlook an archaic civil procedure tool which can be used very successfully to obtain discovery of information before a company commits itself to what could be expensive litigation. We’ve used this procedure in employment cases, toxic tort cases and trade secret matters. And a recent Superior Court opinion validates this litigation strategy.
Connecticut Unfair Trade Practice Act (CUTPA)
You’re a small business owner who provides a service; maybe you’re a contractor, landscaper or own a bakery. You have built a strong reputation in your community by word of mouth and quality work. It doesn’t matter what type of small business you own, you can still become a victim of a scathing negative review from a customer. Bad reviews, whether true or not, can hurt your reputation and damage your bottom line. If they are false, and damage your business, you can sue them for libel, among other things. But the decision to sue even a former customer should not be made lightly.
On Tuesday the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments from the lawyers for some of the families suing Remington Arms over the marketing and sale of the gun that Adam Lanza used almost 5 years ago. I wrote about this case before here, and wrote about another Newtown case here, if you’re interested.
Yes, of course you can, if he or she is doing some very bad things. You see, partners get into disputes all the time. Disagreements happen, whether they are between partners in a limited liability company, a true partnership, or shareholders in a closely-held corporation. And sometimes those disagreements are pretty serious, like when one partner steals money from the company. Or, maybe one of the partners starts a competing business and takes away the company’s customers. That kind of stuff gets serious, and is not the kind of behavior partners can (or should) turn their back on.
All lawyers should include basic provisions in contracts for their clients. One basic provision designates or chooses the state's law that applies. If your client has the bargaining power, and is located in Connecticut, well, you choose Connecticut. But the language you use in your "choice of law" provision is critical. Simply stating that, for example, "Connecticut law governs the interpretation and enforcement of this agreement" will not guarantee that Connecticut law applies to extra-contractual torts.
On the same day that the Connecticut Supreme Court announced an important unfair trade practice decision, read my comments about that decision here in the Connecticut Law Tribune, it announced another decision that received less attention but is just as important.
Under Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practice statute, CUTPA as its commonly known, parties are required to provide the Attorney General’s office with a copy of any complaint seeking relief under the statute. Until recently, lawyers had to mail a copy of the complaint, and allege they did so in the body of the complaint. Now, the Attorney General’s office accepts them electronically for faster review by the trade practice division to determine if the division wants to get involved.
An October 2012 article in the “Connecticut Law Tribune” titled, “Man’s Death In Romania Prompts Federal Lawsuit,” highlighted Tony Minchella’s deep experience litigating unfair trade practice claims. The magazine’s October 2012 article outlined a lawsuit concerning former Sacred Heart University basketball star, Chauncey Hardy, who was playing professionally in Romania, and was beaten to death in a Bucharest pub in 2011.