Law School Case Brief
Douthwright v. Ne. Corridor Founds. - 72 Conn. App. 319, 805 A.2d 157 (2002)
An appellate court will overturn the factual findings of a trial court only if those findings are clearly erroneous. A finding is clearly erroneous when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. In applying the clearly erroneous standard to the findings of a trial court, the Appellate Court of Connecticut keeps constantly in mind that its function is not to decide factual issues de novo. The appellate court's authority, when reviewing the findings of a judge, is circumscribed by the deference it must give to decisions of the trier of fact, who is usually in a superior position to appraise and weigh the evidence. Conn. Gen. Prac. Book, R. App. P. § 60-5.
A worker was injured when concrete pylons fell on his leg. He filed a lawsuit against a consortium of construction companies, another worker, and a pipe corporation alleging negligence. The parties agreed to settle the lawsuit for $ 3.2 million, and the consortium of construction companies and the other worker agreed to pay $ 2.5 million of that amount. Their primary insurer paid $ 1 million but payment of the remaining $ 1.5 million was delayed. The injured party filed a motion for a default judgment seeking the $ 1.5 million plus interest. The consortium paid the $ 1.5 million, but it refused to pay interest on that amount. However, the trial court ruled that the injured party was entitled to interest in the amount of $ 40,931, calculated at 12 percent per annum, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-195c(d), from the date payment was due until the date payment was made. The consortium appealed.
Was the consortium obligated to pay the interest?
The appellate court held that the trial court ruled correctly that the debt was undisputed and that payment of the $ 1.5 million did not discharge the consortium's obligation to pay interest on the debt, either under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42a-3-311 or under the common law doctrine of accord and satisfaction. Thus, it affirmed the trial court's judgment.
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