Cramer & Anderson has a thriving Appellate Litigation practice led by a team of attorneys with decades of experience in achieving favorable results in both the Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court in civil cases covering the full scope of the firm’s practice areas.
The firm is known for handling difficult and high-profile cases, such as the tax valuation of a nuclear power plant, but we have been successful in handling appeals of all magnitudes.
Our cases arise from estates, incidences of product liability, taxation, and a broad range of issues related to real estate and land use, including easements, restrictive covenants, and decisions of zoning commissions.
No two appellate cases are alike, making our attorneys’ experience and depth of knowledge the key for obtaining optimal outcomes. We bring a fresh perspective to each appeal, master the unique challenges in written and oral advocacy of appeals cases, and understand the perspective and priorities of appellate court judges.
The firm guides post-trial motions and appeals in cases that result after we have achieved a successful outcome in trial court, and we also are frequently called in by other attorneys to handle appeals arising from their trial court matters.
Our litigators are skilled in creating and preserving an adequate trial court record in cases we have handled at the trial level that later involve an appeal. In the cases referred to Cramer & Anderson for the appeals process, we first do the diligent work necessary to completely understand the record created in the lower court proceedings. This allows our appellate attorneys to create an effective strategy for the appeal and identify the issues that will prove most persuasive in an appeals setting, where courts don’t generally change decisions unless an error has been made or a legal question hangs in the balance.
Signature examples of Cramer & Anderson’s Appellate Litigation outcomes include:
- A 2020 Connecticut Supreme Court decision overturning a decades-old precedent that said tying agreements for real estate brokerage fees were a violation of the Connecticut Antitrust Act. The court sided with Partner Dan Casagrande in ruling that antitrust law had evolved through recent federal case law in ways that invalidated the Connecticut precedent established in a 1981 decision. The case originated with a breach of contract claim emerging from real estate deals involving parcels formerly part of the Union Carbide corporate complex in Danbury, called the Reserve.
- A 2020 victory at all three levels—trial court, Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court—in which Partners Kent Mancini and William Franklin successfully defended a Connecticut housing authority sued by a factoring company for $2.2 million under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) for a purported wrongful payment over a notice of assignment. Attorneys Mancini and Franklin won summary judgment in trial court in 2018 on behalf of the Housing Authority for the City of Meriden, the plaintiff appealed and the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the housing authority. A subsequent petition for certification to appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court was denied.
- Ash v. New Milford, in which the Connecticut Supreme Court ultimately sided with Partner Randy DiBella in supporting the right of a deceased police officer’s children to receive a portion of Workers’ Compensation death benefits, which the town had denied.
- Multari v. Yale-New Haven Hospital, 145 Conn. App. 253, in which the firm represented the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Yale-New Haven Hospital claiming general negligence in the maintenance of the premises. The case involved a grandmother who had fallen while assisting her 8-year-old grandson, still groggy from a procedure, to her car. The trial court dismissed the case at the Superior Court level, but Partner Randy DiBella appealed, arguing the dismissal was based on reasoning that would have applied to a medical malpractice case—while this claim was based on ordinary, not medical, negligence. The Appellate Court agreed and reversed the trial court.
- The 1998 Union Carbide appeal of the municipal tax assessment valuation of its Danbury, Conn., headquarters, equating to a $307 million market value. Partner Dan Casagrande represented the City of Danbury as outside Assistant Corporation Counsel. The trial court upheld the City’s valuation after a 24-day trial, Union Carbide appealed, and Attorney Casagrande ultimately prevailed before the Connecticut Supreme Court, safeguarding $10 million in tax revenue for the City.
- Attorney Casagrande and the firm successfully defended a challenge to the decision by former New Milford Mayor Liba Furhman and the Town Council to hold an executive session to discuss potential legal responses to a Waste Management application to dump sludge at its former landfill in New Milford. The plaintiff argued some of the issues should have been discussed in public session. The matter for the court became the proper application of state statutes in determining which topics were exempt from public disclosure because they qualified as “strategy and negotiations with respect to pending litigation.” The Connecticut Supreme Court ultimately sided with the Town of New Milford, writing, “All of the contested matters under discussion related to the town’s plan and strategy by which it could defeat Waste Management’s permit application to dump sludge in New Milford.”
- David H. Porter v. Maureen Morrill et al, in which the issue was the sufficiency of a description in a 200-year-old property deed. Partner William Franklin represented Porter, who owned nearly 11 acres on Lake Waramaug in Warren, where he had a summer cottage. Returning to the cottage after a hiatus, he discovered a house built on what appeared to be a portion of his property, which was also claimed by the defendant as part of an approved subdivision. Based on Attorney Franklin’s unraveling of the property conveyance intricacies of the case, the Appellate Court affirmed a trial court decision saying the property was lawfully owned by Porter and the house had to be moved.
- Oswald G. Rapin dba Country Real Estate v. Cynthia Nettleton, which made new law relative to the enforceability of real estate listing agreements that failed to comply with the real estate listing agreement statute. That statute required that listing agreements strictly comply with mandated provisions set forth in such statute as a condition for a realtor to collect a commission. In this case, the listing agreement did not comply with the statute, as it was signed, not by the owner of the property, but instead, by her husband. Despite this non-compliance with the statute, Attorney Franklin was able to persuade both the trial court and the Appellate Court that the realtor should be awarded his commission for the successful sale of the owner’s property. In so doing, the Appellate Court ruled that where the facts justified it, as was the case here, the doctrine of equitable estoppel could be used to bar an owner from avoiding payment of a commission despite the realtor’s non-compliance with the technical requirement of the real estate listing agreement statute.
- First National Bank of Litchfield v. Miller, in which Attorney Franklin represented a bank that had financed the purchase of a pleasure boat. The purchaser of the boat had executed a note and security agreement in favor of the bank. The bank had, therefore, paid the proceeds of the loan and purchase price to the seller of the boat. After the boat was delivered, the purchaser purported to reject the boat, arguing a small issue with its engine rendered it defective. When both the purchaser and the seller refused to pay the bank, the bank brought suit against both, claiming that one or the other was legally liable for repayment of the money advanced by the bank for the purchase of the boat. Attorney Franklin was able to convince the trial court that the purchaser had wrongly rejected the boat, and that he was, therefore, liable to the bank for the money advanced by the bank pursuant to the note and security agreement. The purchaser further argued that the bank, as a prerequisite to collecting its loan, had a statutory duty to investigate the dispute between the purchaser and seller of the boat pursuant to a statute that requires a bank to conduct investigations when a statement of account relative to a loan is disputed. Attorney Franklin successfully argued in the trial court that the statute cited by the purchaser was inapplicable to the factual pattern in this case, and was, therefore, not a bar to recovery by the bank. Although the Appellate Court reversed the decision of the trial court, Attorney Franklin pursued the case to the Supreme Court, which reversed the decision of the Appellate Court and reinstated the decision of the trial court, resulting in the bank being paid in full.
- New Milford Savings Bank v. Jajer, in which the trial court entered a judgment of foreclosure by sale in favor of a bank that had a brought a mortgage foreclosure action against its default borrower. Attorney Franklin represented the successful bidder at the foreclosure sale ordered by the trial court. After the trial court approved that sale, the borrower appealed that approval to the Appellate Court. There, Attorney Franklin was able to establish that a successful bidder at a foreclosure sale had standing before the Appellate Court to argue the merits of an appeal challenging the approval of the sale. Attorney Franklin and counsel for the bank successfully argued in the Appellate Court that the trial court had properly approved the sale. The Supreme Court, after reviewing the briefs and conducting oral argument, concluded that it had erred in granting certification from the decision of the Appellate Court, and thereby summarily affirmed the decision of the Appellate Court.
Connect With a Member of Our Appellate Law Team
Randall DiBella has received an AV Preeminent® rating in the Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™, which reflects that fellow attorneys consider him to be practicing at the highest level of professional excellence. Attorney DiBella, whose Practice Areas include Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, Land Use & Environmental Law and Municipal Law, has been honored as a Best Mentor by the Connecticut Law Tribune.
Dan Casagrande has served as outside Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Danbury from 1990 through the present and has been honored as a “Giant Slayer” among Connecticut counsel for his high-profile Municipal Law work on behalf of towns and cities. In 2019, he was named a Marvin J. Glink Private Practice Local Government Lawyer of the Year by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA). He also focuses on Planning & Zoning, Land Use, and Land Use & Environmental Law.
John Tower often handles complex cases involving construction, contract, property, business, partnership, trust, and estate disputes. He has a history of successful outcomes in wide-ranging civil litigation for private clients. On behalf of municipal clients, Attorney Tower has handled matters before the Connecticut Superior Court, Connecticut Appellate Court, and U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He has been named a Distinguished Leader in the Law by the Connecticut Law Tribune.
Kent Mancini represents individual, corporate and public sector clients in a wide range of civil litigation cases, including the prosecution and defense of claims in contract, construction, property, collections, personal injury, zoning, tax appeal, foreclosure, eviction, insurance, and commercial disputes. He handles all phases of civil trial practice, including negotiation, pre-judgment remedies, discovery, mediation, arbitration, trial, appeals, and post-judgment proceedings.
William Franklin has focused entirely on civil litigation and appeals in his many decades with Cramer & Anderson. He has broad experience before both the Connecticut Supreme Court and Connecticut Appellate Court, where he has personally briefed and argued in excess of forty civil cases on a broad range of issues.