Kim v. Magnotta
In Kim v. Magnotta, 249 Conn. 94, 99, 733 A.2d 809 (1999), the plaintiffs entered into a contractual agreement with the named defendant. The plaintiffs breached the contract shortly after its inception, and the named defendant thereafter filed an action against them. Id.
The parties subsequently agreed to a stipulated judgment. Id. Thereafter, the plaintiffs brought an action alleging, inter alia, unfair trade practices in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes 42-110a et seq. Kim v. Magnotta, supra, at 100.
The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs on the CUTPA count, and the plaintiffs asked the court to rescind the stipulated judgment. Id. The court declined to do so because "the plaintiffs had not filed a motion to open that judgment within the four month limitation period contained in 52-212a." Id.
The Court stated that "the four month period does not implicate the court's subject matter jurisdiction"; id., at 101; but is more accurately characterized "as a limitation on the court's general authority to grant relief from a judgment . . . ." Id., at 102. Thus, a "CUTPA violation can be the basis for setting aside a stipulated judgment, even after the passage of four months. . . ." Id., at 109.
Kim involved the interplay between the provisions of CUTPA and 52-212a. Under certain circumstances, the "otherwise provided by law" provision of 52-212a provides an exception to that statute's four month limitation. CUTPA's remedial provisions provide the necessary law on which to apply that exception. As a result, the trial court's general authority to grant the plaintiffs relief from the judgment was not limited by 52-212a in that case.
The Court noted that the use of jurisdictional terms sometimes may engender confusion, and it explored "the recurrent difficulty of distinguishing between two kinds of challenges to a tribunal's exercise of its statutory authority.
On the one hand, a challenge may allege that a tribunal's action exceeds its statutory authority. . . . Such a challenge raises a jurisdictional claim.
On the other hand, a challenge may allege that a tribunal's action misconstrues its statutory authority. Such a challenge raises a claim of statutory construction that is not jurisdictional.
In Kim, the court relied on this distinction to conclude that the statutory limitation on motions to open judgments contained in . . . 52-212a was not jurisdictional."
The Court held that the four month limitation imposed by 52-212a does not implicate the court's subject matter jurisdiction. Finding the concept of personal jurisdiction inapplicable as well, the court concluded that "the better construction of the statute is to characterize it as a limitation on the trial court's general authority to grant relief from a judgment . . . ." Id., 102.