In Austin-Casares v. Safeco Ins. Co., 2013 Conn. LEXIS 409 (Dec. 3, 2013), the Connecticut Supreme Court, in a case of first impression, reversed a trial court’s decision, which held that the suit limitation provision unambiguously precluded a mortgagee from intervening in a suit when the motion to intervene was filed after the suit limitation period had expired.
The Connecticut Supreme Court first set out the four-part test for intervention as of right, which includes consideration of whether the motion to intervene was “timely.” Citing precedent as to factors to consider in determining “timeliness,” with regard to a motion to intervene, the court stated
“[T]here are no absolute ways to measure timeliness . . . .”
The court then determined that the motion to intervene was timely based on a finding that the relation back doctrine applies to an intervention as of right. The court recognized the suit limitation provision stating, as is typical, that “[n]o action shall be brought against [the defendant] unless . . . the action is started within one year after the loss or damage.” However the court determined that the provision was not implicated because the motion to intervene did not constitute an “action” at all, but rather should be considered “tantamount” to an amendment to the original complaint, and therefore related back to the date of the filing of the complaint.
Because the trial court did not consider any of the applicable factors with respect to the timeliness of a motion to intervene, the court reversed, and remanded with direction to consider the other three factors.
In this case of first impression, as the opinion states, Connecticut joins other jurisdictions finding that the relation back doctrine applies in the context of a motion to intervene as of right.