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Connecticut: Appellate Court Clarifies Redemption Period

Posted By USFN, Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Updated: Friday, September 7, 2018

September 11, 2018

by Joseph Dunaj
McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC – USFN Member (Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois)

The Connecticut Appellate Court has clarified the exact time that a defendant’s right to redeem expires pursuant to a judgment of strict foreclosure. In the case of Real Estate Mortgage Network, Inc. v. Squillante, AC 39229 (Aug. 28, 2018), the appellate court had to determine whether a defendant’s law day was valid when it was scheduled on the same day that an appeal period expired.

In Squillante, the trial court had entered a judgment of strict foreclosure and a law day was scheduled for June 8, 2015. On June 8, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion to open, but extended the law day until June 29, 2015 to allow the appeal period to expire. The 20-day appeal period would have normally expired on June 28, 2015; but, because June 28 was a Sunday, the expiration date was continued to the next business day of June 29, 2015 — the same day as the first scheduled law day. The defendant never filed an appeal and did not redeem on her law day.

Nine months later, the defendant filed another motion to open, claiming that title had not vested to the plaintiff because the appeal period expired on the same date as the first law day; therefore, it was ineffective. The trial court disagreed, finding that title had vested to the plaintiff. The defendant appealed.

Appellate Review
The appellate court ultimately determined that the law day was effective, despite being scheduled on the last day of the appeal period. Under Practice Book Section 7-17, a document must be filed before 5:00 P.M., otherwise the document will be deemed filed on the next business day. Therefore, the defendant’s appeal period expired at 5:00 P.M. on June 29, 2015. However, the court held that the defendant’s law day and right to redeem did not end until midnight on June 30, 2015.

The appellate court relied upon First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Rochester v. Pellechia, 37 Conn. App. 423 (1995), a case that determined how to count the time period to file a motion for deficiency judgment after title vests to a plaintiff. Accordingly, in Squillante, because the defendant’s appeal period expired 7 hours before the defendant’s law day expired (and did not otherwise shorten the appeal period), the law day was not ineffective and title vested to the plaintiff.

Squillante affirmatively determines the exact time when the law day and right of redemption expires. In effect, Squillante validates the frequent practice of some trial courts to extend a law day only 21 days when denying a motion to open judgment, despite the appeal period expiring on the same date. Of course, this requires that either all parties receive notice of the new law day in open court or that the clerk sends the notice timely. Given the delays in some courthouses, a foreclosing plaintiff should be diligent in reviewing the notices and ensuring when the appeal period expires.

In addition, Squillante does have some broader implications. Under federal rules of practice, a debtor can electronically file a bankruptcy petition at 11:59 P.M. and it will be deemed filed that day. Under Squillante, a foreclosing plaintiff is provided guidance in determining whether a filed bankruptcy petition does or does not prevent the vesting of title. Moreover, under Squillante, the appellate court has given its imprimatur to the ability of a defendant to redeem by tendering payment after 5:00 P.M., while recognizing the practical difficulties that may arise in accepting payment.

Editor’s Note: The author’s law firm represented the appellee (plaintiff) in the case summarized in this article.


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Note for consideration of the USFN Award of Excellence: This article is not a "Feature."



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