Howard v. Robertson

In Howard v. Robertson, 27 Conn. App. 621, 608 A.2d 711 (1992), the plaintiff filed an application for a prejudgment remedy prior to serving a petition for a new trial. After the action was commenced, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether the action was commenced within the statute of limitations. The parties did not dispute the dates at issue. The plaintiff claimed, however, that the defendant had notice of her claim because he had been served with prejudgment remedy documents. The defendant in Howard had constructed a house for the plaintiff, who refused to pay the full contract price because of unworkmanlike construction. Howard v. Robertson, supra, 27 Conn. App. 623. The defendant first brought an action against the plaintiff, who then filed a counterclaim. On February 3, 1986, the trial court rendered judgment awarding damages to the defendant.Id. The plaintiff subsequently discovered previously undetectable defects in the house and informed the defendant in June, 1988, that she intended to petition for a new trial. Id. The plaintiff then served the defendant with an application for a prejudgment remedy on January 30, 1989. Id. The plaintiff served the defendant with a writ of summons and complaint on April 10, 1989. Id., 624. The statute of limitations at issue was General Statutes 52-582, which contains a three year limitation period. Howard v. Robertson, 27 Conn. App. at 624-25. In affirming the trial court's judgment, this court stated: "It is well settled that an action is brought on the date on which the writ is served on a defendant. Hillman v. Greenwich, 217 Conn. 520, 527, 587 A.2d 99 (1991); Lacasse v. Burns, 214 Conn. 464, 475, 572 A.2d 357 (1990); Seaboard Burner Corporation v. DeLong, 145 Conn. 300, 303, 141 A.2d 642 (1958); Consolidated Motor Lines, Inc. v. M & M Transportation Co., 128 Conn. 107, 109, 20 A.2d 621 (1941)." Howard v. Robertson, supra, 27 Conn. App. 625. "A writ of summons is a statutory prerequisite to the commencement of a civil action. . . . It is an essential element to the validity of the jurisdiction of the court. . . . Although the writ of summons need not be technically perfect, and need not conform exactly to the form set out in the Practice Book . . . the plaintiff's complaint must contain the basic information and direction normally included in a writ of summons. . . . Hillman v. Greenwich, supra, 526. A writ must contain a direction to a proper officer for service and a command to summon the defendant to appear in court. General Motors Acceptance Corporation v. Pumphrey, 13 Conn. App. 223, 228, 535 A.2d 396 (1988)." Howard v. Robertson, supra, 626. The Court concluded in Howard that although prejudgment remedy documents give a party sufficient notice of a prejudgment remedy hearing, they are not the equivalent of a writ necessary to toll the statute of limitations. Id.