Attorney(s) appearing for the Case
Joseph R. Crispino, for the appellants (defendants).
Francis X. Drapeau, with whom, on the brief, was John D. Ward, for the appellee (plaintiff).
O'Connell, Foti and Heiman, JS.
The defendants, lessees of commercial property, appeal from a judgment awarding damages for rent owed to the plaintiff rendered following a hearing in damages before the trial court. The issues raised by the defendants are all factual and cannot be retried on appeal.1 See New Haven v. Local 884, Council 4, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, 38 Conn.App. 709, 713, 662 A.2d 818 (1995)
Although the parties initially waived oral argument before this court, our examination of the record and briefs disclosed the presence of a serious issue of law that had not been briefed. Plain error review under Practice Book § 41852 is warranted because the unaddressed issue implicates interests of fundamental justice. Lynch v. Granby Holdings, 230 Conn. 95, 99, 644 A.2d 325 (1994). The unbriefed issue concerns the power of a trial court to render judgment for an amount in excess of the sum stated in the plaintiffs amount in demand. The parties were given notice and ordered to file supplemental briefs. See id.; LoSacco v. Young, 210 Conn. 503, 509-10, 555 A.2d 986 (1989).
The following facts are pertinent to our resolution of this appeal. In compliance with General Statutes § 52-913 and Practice Book § 1314 the plaintiff annexed to its complaint a statement that the amount "in demand is more than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00) but less than $15,000.00 exclusive of interest and costs." (Emphasis added.) Despite this statement of the amount in demand, the trial court rendered judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $146,588.57, attorney's fees of $3767 and costs of $849.10.
Our decision in the present case is controlled by Davis v. Naugatuck, 15 Conn.App. 185, 543 A.2d 785 (1988). Following a thorough, detailed analysis, this court held that the trial court improperly awarded damages in excess of the amount sought in the statement of the amount in demand. Id., 189-93. We reaffirm our decision in Davis, and hold that the trial court in this case improperly awarded damages in excess of $15,000.
The judgment is reversed as to the award of damages and the case is remanded with direction to modify the judgment so that it totals no more than $15,000 plus costs.