Baker v. Argueta, 209 Conn. App. 843 (2022) (mootness)
Officially released January 11, 2022.
In short: if the trial court opens the judgment after you take an appeal and materially changes the decision in a way that affects your appeal, you must amend your appeal to challenge the corrected decision. Here the litigant did not do so, and his appeal was dismissed as moot.
The parties’ dissolution matter was tried and the trial court issued a memorandum of decision on January 8, 2020. The memorandum of decision included orders of child support. On January 21, Defendant filed an appeal of the memorandum of decision with regarding to the order of child support. On March 10, Defendant filed a motion for articulation. On May 22, the trial court, sua sponte, issued a corrected memorandum of decision changing the award of child support. Defendant did not file an amended appeal. On June 23, the trial court denied the motion for articulation.
The Appellate Court determined that the crux of Defendant’s appeal was that, in the original memorandum of decision, the trial court incorrectly found Defendant’s presumptive child support obligation, and, as a result, a new trial is necessary. Plaintiff argued that Defendant’s claims were moot because the decision was corrected, and Defendant did not challenge the corrected decision. Mootness implicates subject matter jurisdiction, over which review is plenary.
The Appellate Court noted that, where the trial court’s opening of the judgment resolves the matter on appeal in the appellant’s favor, the appeal is moot. Where the opening addresses some matters on appeal, but does not afford all the relief sought, it may require a new appeal or amended appeal.
The Appellate Court concluded that, as Defendant did not amend his appeal to challenge the corrected decision, no relief could be afforded to him in the appeal. The child support awarded in the corrected decision superseded the child support award in the original decision, necessitating an amended appeal pursuant to Practice Book § 61-9. The appeal was dismissed for mootness.