2012 Connecticut General Statutes
Title 52 - Civil Actions
Chapter 925 - Statutory Rights of Action and Defenses
Section 52-568 - Damages for groundless or vexatious suit or defense.

CT Gen Stat § 52-568 (2012) What's This?

Any person who commences and prosecutes any civil action or complaint against another, in his own name or the name of others, or asserts a defense to any civil action or complaint commenced and prosecuted by another (1) without probable cause, shall pay such other person double damages, or (2) without probable cause, and with a malicious intent unjustly to vex and trouble such other person, shall pay him treble damages.

(1949 Rev., S. 8309; P.A. 82-160, S. 234; P.A. 86-338, S. 9; P.A. 87-526, S. 1, 5; P.A. 93-191, S. 3, 4.)

History: P.A. 82-160 substituted “civil action” for “suit”; P.A. 86-338 made section applicable to any person who asserts a defense to an action or complaint and added provision requiring payment of double damages if an action is commenced or defense is asserted without probable cause; P.A. 87-526 added Subsec. (b), authorizing public agency to bring court action against person prosecuting freedom of information commission appeals found by commission to be frivolous, unreasonable and harassing; P.A. 93-191 deleted provisions authorizing court action against persons who brought frivolous, unreasonable or harassing appeals to the freedom of information commission, effective July 1, 1993.

See Sec. 1-241 re court action against persons who bring frivolous, unreasonable or harassing appeals to the Freedom of Information Commission.

See Sec. 52-226a re request for special finding.

Cited. 43 CA 1. Discussed re District Court ruling on evidence of reasonableness in pursuing a claim and “advice of counsel” defense. 49 CA 582. Plaintiff’s vexatious litigation claim based on defendant’s filing of an adversary proceeding in Bankruptcy Court is preempted by federal bankruptcy law that provides sanctions for filing frivolous and malicious pleadings. 86 CA 596. Court adopted Indiana Court of Appeals’ articulation of objective standard of probable cause: Standard which should govern the reasonableness of attorney’s action in instituting litigation for a client is whether claim merits litigation against defendant in question on the basis of facts known to the attorney when suit is commenced; on the basis of the facts known to the law firm, a reasonable attorney familiar with the law of this state would believe that applicable statutes of limitation could be tolled by fraudulent concealment on the part of Retirement Centers. 89 CA 459. Prejudgment remedy is not a civil action for purposes of vexatious litigation. 100 CA 63. Statutory action for vexatious litigation differs from a common-law action only in that a finding of malice is not an essential element, but will serve as a basis for higher damages. 103 CA 20. Trial court properly concluded that law firm did not have a proper purpose in filing a shareholder litigation suit pursuant to Sec. 33-948 to permit inspection of corporate records, where stock repurchase offer had expired prior to filing of suit. Id. Vexatious litigation counterclaim by defendant was premature where the original lawsuit had not yet been terminated in defendant’s favor at the time of pleading. 110 CA 511.

Elements of a vexatious suit. 14 CS 293. In an action for vexatious suit, plaintiff must show that the suit complained of terminated in his favor and that there was want of probable cause. Where defendants showed they had knowledge of facts sufficient to justify reasonable men in the belief that there were reasonable grounds for commencing and prosecuting the original action, there was no want of probable cause. 22 CS 272. Section relates only to vexatious suit and has no application to malicious prosecution. 24 CS 256. Complaint in action for vexatious suit must contain allegation prior suit terminated in plaintiff’s favor. 31 CS 305.

Vexatious suit may be brought as cause of action created by this statute in which treble damages may be awarded or may be instituted under common law in which case damages must be compensatory only. 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 666.

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