April 5, 2016
by Jeffrey M. Knickerbocker
Bendett & McHugh, P.C. – USFN Member (Connecticut, Maine, Vermont)
The Connecticut Appellate court has provided guidance on an amended court rule. [See Citigroup Global Markets Realty Corporation v. Christiansen, 163 Conn. App. 635 (2016)]. The rule, Connecticut Practice Book § 61-11, limits the automatic stay provisions in a foreclosure matter where multiple motions to open the judgment have been filed.
Here in Connecticut an appeal is possible after a final foreclosure judgment. In a foreclosure, each time the court sets a law day (which triggers the day that title passes to the plaintiff) an appeal would be possible. Upon entry of judgment, an automatic stay occurs for the time period in which the defendant has to appeal. During that automatic stay period all actions to enforce a judgment are stayed. This includes the running of the law days and, accordingly, the plaintiff’s title vesting date.
As the court stated in Christiansen: “Prior to October, 2013, a court’s denial of a motion to open a judgment of strict foreclosure automatically stayed the running of the law days until the twenty-day period in which to file an appeal from that ruling had expired, and, if an appeal was filed, that initial appellate stay continued until there was a final determination of the appeal.” The court described the rule change as follows: “Practice Book § 61-11 was amended effective October 1, 2013, however, to address this problem by the addition of subsections (g) and (h). Practice Book § 61-11(g) applies in this appeal and provides in relevant part: ‘In any action for foreclosure in which the owner of the equity has filed, and the court has denied, at least two prior motions to open or other similar motion, no automatic stay shall arise upon the court’s denial of any subsequent contested motion by that party, unless the party certifies under oath, in an affidavit accompanying the motion, that the motion was filed for good cause arising after the court’s ruling on the party’s most recent motion ....’”
Two previous motions to open the judgment had been denied against the defendant in Christiansen. The third motion did not have an accompanying affidavit. As a result, the court found that the law days continued to run, and title vested in the plaintiff. Because title vested, the court found the appeal moot. Upon vesting, there was no longer any practicable relief that the court could afford the defendant.
Christiansen shows that the Connecticut Practice Book has been cured to prevent a borrower from endlessly extending the law day. It worked in this case, as title could vest since there was no appellate stay in effect.
Editor’s Note: The author’s firm represented the substituted plaintiff, Mid Pac Portfolio, LLC, in the case summarized in this article.
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