The defendants, Frank Solomine and Patrick Solomine, appeal from the judgment of the trial court awarding the plaintiff, Joanne D'Auria, damages and costs in this action for breach of a contract for the purchase of real property. The defendants raise several claims on appeal.
The relevant facts and procedural history are as follows. On October 19, 2002, the defendants signed an agreement to purchase property owned by the plaintiff in East Haven. On this same date, the defendants also paid an initial deposit of $1000. The defendants paid an additional deposit of $8000, as required by the agreement, by check dated October 28, 2002. In accordance with the agreement, the $9000 deposit was held in escrow by the realtor, Cyr Real Estate, LLC, prior to closing. Furthermore, the agreement provided that, in the event of a default, the $9000 deposit was to be considered liquidated damages.
On February 26, 2003, the plaintiff commenced this action, alleging breach of contract and quantum meruit. Because the defendants did not notify the plaintiff of their inability to obtain financing within the contractual contingency period, the plaintiff was seeking payment of the deposit made by the defendants. On May 7, 2003, the plaintiff's motion for default for failure to appear was granted. A judgment was rendered on the default, and the plaintiff was awarded liquidated damages, attorney's fees, interest and costs. On December 15, 2003, the court, Skolnick, J., granted the defendants' motion to open the judgment, which was filed in September, 2003. Subsequently, the defendants cited in Cyr Real Estate, LLC, and brought a third party complaint against it, alleging improper disbursement of funds held in escrow. After a court trial, the court, Hon. Frank S. Meadow, judge trial referee, concluded in a June 5, 2006 memorandum of decision that the defendants breached the contract by failing to notify the plaintiff of their inability to secure financing within the contractual contingency period. The court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $9000 plus costs and found in favor of Cyr Real Estate, LLC, on the third party complaint. The $9000 deposit was released subsequently from escrow and turned over to the plaintiff.
The defendants appealed from the June 5, 2006 judgment on July 26, 2006. On
"Mootness implicates [this] court's subject matter jurisdiction and is thus a threshold matter for us to resolve. . . . It is a well-settled general rule that the existence of an actual controversy is an essential requisite to appellate jurisdiction; it is not the province of appellate courts to decide moot questions, disconnected from the granting of actual relief or from the determination of which no practical relief can follow. . . . An actual controversy must exist not only at the time the appeal is taken, but also throughout the pendency of the appeal. . . . When, during the pendency of an appeal, events have occurred that preclude an appellate court from granting any practical relief through its disposition of the merits, a case has become moot. . . . [A] subject matter jurisdictional defect may not be waived . . . [or jurisdiction] conferred by the parties, explicitly or implicitly. . . . [T]he question of subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law . . . and, once raised, either by a party or by the court itself, the question must be answered before the court may decide the case." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Lucas v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., 103 Conn.App. 762, 766, 931 A.2d 378, cert. denied, 284 Conn. 934, 935 A.2d 151 (2007).
In the present case, the plaintiff argues in her brief that the appeal is moot because any debt that could have existed between her and the defendants was discharged when she received a bankruptcy discharge. She cites 11 U.S.C. § 727
In Lightowler v. Continental Ins. Co., 255 Conn. 639, 769 A.2d 49 (2001), our Supreme Court noted that "under 11 U.S.C. § 727, a debtor whose bankruptcy petition satisfies the requirements of chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code generally is entitled to the discharge of any debt that arose prior to the filing of the petition. The discharge of a debt pursuant to § 727 triggers the operation of the provisions of 11 U.S.C. § 524, which shield the debtor from any personal liability for that debt by affording the debtor the right to `an injunction against the commencement or
The question then becomes whether the debt in this case, which is contingent on the reversal of the trial court's judgment, is a debt falling within the ambit of debts discharged pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 727. The term "claim" is defined in the Bankruptcy Code as a "right to payment, whether or not such right is reduced to judgment, liquidated, unliquidated, fixed, contingent, matured, unmatured, disputed, undisputed, legal, equitable, secured, or unsecured. . . ." 11 U.S.C. § 101(5)(A). Our Supreme Court noted, therefore, that "[b]y this broadest possible definition . . . [of the term claim, the Bankruptcy Code] contemplates that all legal obligations of the debtor, no matter how remote or contingent, will be able to be dealt with in the bankruptcy case." (Emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted.) Lightowler v. Continental Ins. Co., supra, 255 Conn. at 648, 769 A.2d 49. In the present case, the debt is contingent on the reversal of the trial court's judgment, and it falls within the definition of a claim as stated in the Bankruptcy Code. As a result, it is capable of being discharged pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 727.
Therefore, when the plaintiff was granted a discharge of debt, this claim by the defendants was discharged. "A discharge in bankruptcy is neither a payment nor an extinguishment of a debt; the discharge simply bars future legal proceedings to enforce the discharged debt against the debtor. . . . A debt remains in existence after a discharge in bankruptcy, although it is divested of its character as a personal obligation that is legally enforceable." (Citations omitted.) Ramsay v. Camrac, Inc., 96 Conn.App. 190, 201, 899 A.2d 727, cert. denied, 280 Conn. 910, 908 A.2d 538 (2006). In the present case, therefore, the defendants are prohibited, under 11 U.S.C. § 524, from instituting future proceedings to enforce any claim or debt allegedly owed to them by the plaintiff. Because the defendants are prohibited from instituting any legal proceedings to enforce this claim, they can obtain no practical relief, and the appeal is moot. We, therefore, decline to review the defendants' claims. See Lucas v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., supra, 103 Conn.App. at 766, 931 A.2d 378.
The appeal is dismissed.
In this opinion the other judges concurred.