232 Conn. 172 (1995) | Cited 3 times | Supreme Court of Connecticut | February 7, 1995

The dispositive issue in this appeal isthe validity of a bank's exercise of its right of setoff

[232 Conn. 173]

     against funds held in joint accounts for which the signatorieswere the bank's debtor and the debtor'sspouse. The plaintiff, Elizabeth C. Masotti, filed a complaintalleging that the defendant, Bristol Savings Bank(bank), had wrongfully withdrawn funds from jointaccounts of the plaintiff and her husband, Vito Masotti.In six counts, the plaintiff claimed that these withdrawalsconstituted a conversion, a breach of contract,negligence, a breach of the duty of good faith and fairdealing, and an unfair trade practice, and that the bankfraudulently had failed to give the plaintiff notice ofits authority to make such a withdrawal. The bank fileda motion for summary judgment that the trial courtgranted. The plaintiff appealed from the judgment ofthe trial court to the Appellate Court, and we transferredthe appeal to this court pursuant to PracticeBook § 4023 and General Statutes § 51-199(c). Weaffirm the judgment of the trial court.

The underlying facts are undisputed. The plaintiff andher husband opened three joint accounts with the bankover a period of years beginning in 1986. Substantiallyall of the money in these accounts was deposited bythe husband. On May 4, 1990, the bank notified theplaintiff's husband that, because he was in default ona $15,000,000 loan to Village Gate Partnership forwhich he had agreed to act as guarantor, the bank hadput a hold on his bank accounts. On May 7, 1990, thebank exercised its right of setoff and withdrew theremaining balance in the three joint accounts. Althoughthe bank sent certified notices of the closing of thesebank accounts to both the plaintiff and her husband,the plaintiff was not shown to have received any suchnotification. The funds subsequently were restored bythe bank in conjunction with a workout arrangementpursuant to which the husband agreed to pledge thefunds as security for a new loan transaction. The plaintifflearned of the new pledge on November 1, 1990.

[232 Conn. 174]

The trial court granted the bank's motion for summaryjudgment with respect to each count of the plaintiff'scomplaint. The court concluded that the bank hadhad a right of setoff that it had been entitled to exercisewith respect to the funds in the plaintiff's jointaccounts with her husband because those accounts hadnot been special purpose fund accounts. Accordingly,the court held that the plaintiff could not prevail onthe first five counts of her complaint. The court furtherheld that the plaintiff could not prevail on the sixthcount of her complaint because she had failed to submitany proof to support the allegation that the bankhad "deceptively induced [her] into making the Depositor'scontract." The thoughtful and comprehensivememorandum of decision filed by the trial court thoroughlycanvassed the applicable legal principles in amanner consistent with the statute governing jointaccounts; General Statutes § 36-3;1 and with our interveningcase law upholding the validity of bank setoffs.See, e.g., Normand Josef Enterprises, Inc. v. ConnecticutNational Bank, 230 Conn. 486, 646 A.2d 1289(1994). Because that memorandum of decision fully

[232 Conn. 175]

     states and meets the relevant arguments raised in thepresent appeal, we adopt the trial court's well reasoneddecision as a statement of the facts and the applicablelaw on these issues. Masotti v. Bristol Savings Bank,43 Conn. Sup. 360, 653 A.2d 836 (1994). No useful purposewould be served by a repetition of the discussioncontained therein. See Advanced Business Systems, Inc.v. Crystal, 231 Conn. 378, 381, 650 A.2d 540 (1994);Van Dyck Printing Co. v. DiNicola, 231 Conn. 272,273-74, 648 A.2d 877 (1994); Connecticut ResourcesRecovery Authority v. Refuse Gardens, Inc., 229 Conn. 455,458-59, 642 A.2d 697 (1994).2

The judgment is affirmed.

1. General Statutes § 36-3 provides in relevant part: "JOINT DEPOSITSAND ACCOUNTS. (a) When a deposit has been made in this state in any statebank and trust company, national banking association or savings bank or anaccount has been issued in this state by any savings and loan associationor federal savings and loan association or credit union, in the names of twoor more persons and in form to be paid to any one or the survivor, orsurvivors, of them, such deposit or account and any additions thereto madeby any of such persons after the making or issuance thereof, together withall dividends or interest or increases credited thereon, shall be held forthe exclusive use of such persons and may be paid to any of them during thelifetime of all of them or to the survivor or survivors after the death ofone or more of them, and such payment and the receipt or acquittance ofthe person or persons to whom such payment is made shall be a valid andsufficient release and discharge for all payments so made." In Grodzicki v. Grodzicki, 154 Conn. 456, 461-62, 226 A.2d 656(1967), we rejected the contention that, under this statute, the creation ofa joint account conferred on each of the codepositors, inter vivos, anundivided one-half pro rata interest in the account.

2. On appeal to this court, the plaintiff additionally challenges theconstitutionality of § 36-3. The plaintiff's constitutional claimcannot succeed. The plaintiff made no such claim in the trial

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