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Douthwright v. Northeast Corridor Foundations

Connecticut Appellate Court
805 A.2d 157 (2002)


Facts

Douthwright (plaintiff) was injured after concrete pylons rolled off a truck owned by Northeast Corridor Foundations (Northeast) (defendant) and crushed Douthwright’s leg. New England Pipe Corporation (New England) was also liable for Douthwright’s injuries. Douthwright, Northeast, and New England engaged in a settlement conference where it was determined Douthwright was entitled to a total of $3.2 million in damages. If the damages were not paid as agreed, the agreement stated that Douthwright was entitled to twelve percent interest annually. The oral agreement allocated $2.5 million of this payment to Northeast. $1 million was paid to Douthwright by Northeast’s primary insurance company, but Northeast’s secondary insurance company refuse to pay the remaining $1.5 million. On February 13, 2001, in Connecticut state court, Douthwright filed a motion for a default judgment based on Northeast’s failure to pay under the agreement. An initial hearing was held on the matter on March 26, 2001. After this hearing, Northeast sent Douthwright a check for $1.5 million. The check was accompanied by a letter stating that it was intended as an accord offered in satisfaction of Northeast’s debt. The check contained only the principal debt, not the interest. On May 8, 2001, after an evidentiary hearing, the trial court rendered judgment for Douthwright in the amount of $40,931.45 in interest due. As a basis for this judgment, the trial court held that based on the terms of the oral settlement agreement, Douthwright was immediately entitled to payment from Northeast and New England as soon as their obligations came due. The trial court found that Douthwright satisfied his own responsibilities under the settlement agreement on January 2, 2001, and that Northeast’s debt came due on February 2, 2001.

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Holding and Reasoning (Peters, J.)

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