Saturday, June 12, 2010

Judge Reduces Computer Plus Center Award; Blumenthal Relieved

Dave Altimari and Edmund Mahony of the Hartford Courant are reporting that Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens, ruling a jury award to the owner of a Connecticut company destroyed by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was too high, reduced from $18 million to $1.83 million the jury’s award to Gina Malapanis, the former owner of Computer Plus Center of East Hartford.

Blumenthal earlier professed to be shocked by the $18 million jury award, in part a reaction to an affidavit that one of Blumenthal’s litigators had permitted to reach the jury.

In her complaint, 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.’”
Judge Barry Stevens ruled, according to the Courant report, that the “verdict was too high.”

While Judge Stevens reduced the award, he declined to reverse the verdict, "rejecting the state’s arguments” that the verdict should be set aside. The judge declined to act “as a seventh juror” in the case, which no doubt displeased Blumenthal.

The Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate,  who has been dodging the media of late, said “"I am pleased that the court rightly reduced this award, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. We will continue fighting to overturn this verdict and cut the award to nothing."

On a complaint from the Department of Information Technology, Blumenthal filed a civil lawsuit against the company; police arrested the owner of the company and charged her criminally with having bilked the state of more than $300,000, but the criminal charges later were dropped, at which point the company’s owner filed a countersuit against the state, “claiming that the state had denied her civil rights and ruined her business,” according to the Courant report.

Judge Steven’s decision leaves undisturbed the jury’s verdict of Jan 234, 2010, which affirmed the claim.

Busily engaged in running for the U.S. Senate, Blumenthal promised to appeal the six year old case further in an attempt to reduce the Jury’s award or to win the case on appeal.

As previously reporetd on this blog, the attorney general's office has a backlog of 36,394 cases, according to Blumenthal's financial report..
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