You’ve been served with notice that an application for prejudgment remedy has been filed against you in Superior Court. The first page of the thick stack of paperwork the Marshal handed you says you need to appear in Court Monday, only five days from now. What should you do? What can you expect?
An application for prejudgment remedy is seeking to attach your assets to secure a possible judgment, usually in a lawsuit that has just commenced. If you’re not sure what a prejudgment remedy attachment is, read our post here.
REPRESENTATION AT A PREJUDGMENT REMEDY HEARING
If you’re being sued personally, you have the option to represent yourself. However, keep in mind that the Plaintiff’s attorney has most likely been planning this hearing for weeks and they have every intention of using the prejudgment remedy process to blindside you. If one of your business entities is being sued, you’ll need a lawyer as business entities cannot be represented by lay people.
We strongly recommend you hire a lawyer with significant experience with prejudgment remedies in Connecticut courts. The process can move very quickly and the law is quite technical. You want someone on your side that is going to be able to defend your position and properly navigate the prejudgment remedy process.
THE FIRST HEARING FOR A PREJUDGMENT REMEDY APPLICATION
Despite what the paperwork says (and what the statute says), there is no actual hearing at the first court date. Instead, it’s simply a status conference that most judges use as an opportunity to see if the matter, or at least the issue of the attachment on the Defendant’s assets, can be resolved. You can expect that the Judge will want to meet with the lawyers from both sides and hear their claims and defenses. If there’s a particular fact that would prevent the need for a prejudgment hearing, like insurance coverage, that usually comes to light in the status conference. If the matter cannot be resolved, and it’s clear that a prejudgment remedy is an option available to the Plaintiff, then a second hearing is scheduled.
If the Defendant does not appear at the first hearing, there is a strong possibility the Judge will just enter the
THE SECOND HEARING FOR A PREJUDGMENT REMEDY APPLICATION
The second hearing is usually one to three weeks after the first. This will be an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not the Plaintiff can prove their case to the probable cause standard necessary to support their application for prejudgment remedy. The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled it’s not necessary for the Plaintiff to prove they have even a “50/50” chance at success, merely a rational basis supporting their claim. The Court however, must balance the Plaintiff’s claims against any claims, defenses or set-offs the Defendant must have. The Defendant is held to the same relaxed common sense standard.
All too often, parties will attempt to try the entire matter at the prejudgment remedy hearing. Usually, this just leads to a frustrated Judge, however, it’s hard to resist the opportunity to fully state your claim and attempt to disassemble the claims of the other party. Judges will try and issue decisions in prejudgment remedy applications quickly, however, if they require, the law gives them 120 days in which to decide.
For more on prejudgment remedies, please see our post here.