Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blumenthal, The Next U.S. Senator From Connecticut, Loses Another One.

In what Courant reporter Dave Altimari called “a stunning verdict,” a Superior Court jury in Waterbury yesterday awarded Gina Malapanis, owner of Computers Plus Center Inc., $18 million after finding that state officials had “ruined her business with false claims that she had broken her state contract.”

In a press release sent to various state newspapers in March 2003, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that he was “pursuing law enforcement actions related to contractor irregularities” against Malapanis’ company.

Blumenthal claimed the company had installed generic memory chips in computers sold to the state rather than chips installed by the computer maker and demanded $1.7 million from Malapanis in a civil action. Blumenthal also worked in tandem with Connecticut’s Chief State Attorney and the Department Of Information Technology (DOIT). In a parallel criminal action, Malapanis was arrested at her home by Hebron police. But the charges were dropped after her business had been effectively hobbled.

Previous legal documents shed light on Malapanis’ counter suit. In a complaint brought against Blumenthal seeking damages, Malapanis alleged:

“… procedural and substantive due process violations in that ‘Regan and Blumenthal recklessly and maliciously referred the matter to the [Connecticut State Police, as a result of which Malapanis’ property was seized’; that ‘Regan and Blumenthal recklessly and maliciously issued a press release that contained false information;’ that ‘Regan provided false and misleading information on his affidavit in support that he had probable cause for a PJR action;’ that ‘Blumenthal refused to correct the fraud upon the court regarding the false formation;’ that ‘[t]he actions of the defendants were in excess of their statutory authority as officials of DOIT and the State of Connecticut;’ and that ‘the accusations by DOIT and the defendants that Malapanis and CPC was a non-responsible bidder and that Malapanis and CPC likely committed larceny are unfounded, libelous, slanderous and made without due process of law.’”
Malapanis also claimed procedural and substantive due process violations under the Connecticut Constitution. She claimed that “the defendant state officials conduct constituted a taking of Malapanis’ property without just compensation.” Malapanis alleged “abuse of process, defamation, tortious interference with contractual relations, and a violation of the Connecticut Antitrust Act. She sought money damages, punitive and exemplary damages, treble damages, costs, and attorneys' fees against defendant Regan, Bannon, Miller-Sullivan, and Blumenthal in their individual capacities.” Malapanis also sought an “injunction ordering the defendants to expunge all records that relate the Malapanis and CPC being a non-responsible bidder; an injunction restoring the 2001 Contract to CPC and Malapanis, and an injunction requiring defendants Blumenthal and Regan to issue a press release and publicly withdraw their allegations against Malapanis and CPC made at the March 17, 2003 press conference and in the press release.”

Blumenthal is contesting the jury verdict while he holds on to his position as Attorney General and runs for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.

Charges of fatally defective affidavits, the taking of property without just compensation and tortious interference with contractual relations will seem wearily familiar to the Hoffman’s and to the owners of New England Pellet. The Hoffman case is detailed here, and the New England Pellet case is detailed here.
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