Szymonik v. Szymonik, 213 Conn. App. 421 (2022) (bad faith exception to the American Rule; contempt)
Officially released June 21, 2022
In Short: With essentially no analysis, the Appellate Court made very short work of a bad faith litigant where the trial court found Husband in contempt multiple times and ordered counsel fees under the bad faith exception to the American Rule.
The parties were divorced via trial in 2008. In 2012 the trial court entered an order precluding either party from filing any motions without prior express written approval of the presiding judge “because of the interminable number of motions filed.”
In 2017 the court ordered Husband to pay $242/week child support plus additional lump sum and periodic payments toward a $40,488 arrearage. Thereafter, Wife filed a motion for contempt alleging failure to pay the required lump sum payments. The trial court found Husband in contempt and ordered counsel fees related to the motion.
Wife filed a motion for sanctions, alleging litigation misconduct in the form of meritless motions, motions for order raising issues already decided, and numerous requests for leave to file additional motions. The trial court granted the motion for sanctions finding that Husband’s repetitive motions failed to raise a colorable claim and repeatedly raised the same issues without basis in law or facts. The trial court found that Husband had engaged in bad faith litigation and awarded Wife additional counsel fees.
Wife filed another motion for contempt regarding noncompliance with the child support arrearage. The trial court found Husband in contempt again and ordered additional counsel fees.
The counsel fees and sanctions involved in all three orders were relatively modest, totaling approximately $10,000.
Husband appealed all three decisions (filing an initial appeal and amending with each subsequent order). The Appellate Court, per curiam, swept aside the numerous arguments advanced by Husband, concluding that the factual findings were not clearly erroneous and the proper legal standards and analyses were applied without any further analysis.
The three Judgments were affirmed.