CHAPTER 901
DAMAGES, COSTS AND FEES

Table of Contents

Sec. 52-249. Costs and attorney's fees in actions for foreclosure and substitution of bond.
Sec. 52-251a. Costs, attorney's fees on small claims matter transferred to regular docket.
Sec. 52-251c. Limitation on attorney contingency fees in personal injury, wrongful death and property damage actions. Waiver of limitation by claimant.
Sec. 52-252. Costs for nonappearance of party giving notice of deposition.
Sec. 52-257. Fees of parties in civil actions.
Sec. 52-260. Witness fees.

      Sec. 52-249. Costs and attorney's fees in actions for foreclosure and substitution of bond.

      Subsec. (a):

      In action to foreclose mechanic's lien, plaintiff is not entitled to duplicate attorney's fees under this section and Sec. 42-150aa but rather may collect under Sec. 42-150aa for contract aspects of action and under this section for equitable relief. 86 CA 767.

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      Sec. 52-251a. Costs, attorney's fees on small claims matter transferred to regular docket.

      Trial court award of attorney's fees to plaintiff upheld in matter that originated in small claims session but was ultimately transferred to complex litigation docket. Purpose of statute is to deter defendants from transferring a case from small claims session and turning a relatively clear cut case into a pitched legal battle. 87 CA 687.

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      Sec. 52-251c. Limitation on attorney contingency fees in personal injury, wrongful death and property damage actions. Waiver of limitation by claimant. (a) In any claim or civil action to recover damages resulting from personal injury, wrongful death or damage to property occurring on or after October 1, 1987, the attorney and the claimant may provide by contract, which contract shall comply with all applicable provisions of the rules of professional conduct governing attorneys adopted by the judges of the Superior Court, that the fee for the attorney shall be paid contingent upon, and as a percentage of: (1) Damages awarded and received by the claimant; or (2) the settlement amount received pursuant to a settlement agreement.

      (b) In any such contingency fee agreement such fee shall be the exclusive method for payment of the attorney by the claimant and shall not exceed an amount equal to a percentage of the damages awarded and received by the claimant or of the settlement amount received by the claimant as follows: (1) Thirty-three and one-third per cent of the first three hundred thousand dollars; (2) twenty-five per cent of the next three hundred thousand dollars; (3) twenty per cent of the next three hundred thousand dollars; (4) fifteen per cent of the next three hundred thousand dollars; and (5) ten per cent of any amount which exceeds one million two hundred thousand dollars.

      (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a claimant may waive the percentage limitations of said subsection if the claim or civil action is so substantially complex, unique or different from other wrongful death, personal injury or property damage claims or civil actions as to warrant a deviation from such percentage limitations. Factors that may indicate that a claim or civil action is substantially complex, unique or different from other wrongful death, personal injury or property damage claims or civil actions include, but are not limited to, if the claim or civil action (1) involves complex factual medical or legal issues, (2) involves serious permanent personal injury or death, (3) is likely to require extensive investigation and discovery proceedings, including multiple depositions, or (4) requires independent expert witness testimony. For the purposes of this subsection, "independent expert witness testimony" means testimony, whether at trial or in a deposition, from an expert who has not participated in the care of the claimant and has not participated in any official investigation of the incident involved.

      (d) Prior to a claimant entering into a contingency fee agreement that provides for a fee that exceeds the percentage limitations of subsection (b) of this section, the attorney shall (1) explain the percentage limitations of subsection (b) of this section to the claimant and the reasons the attorney is unable to abide by those limitations; (2) advise the claimant of the claimant's right to seek representation by another attorney willing to abide by the percentage limitations of subsection (b) of this section; and (3) allow the claimant a sufficient period of time to review the proposed contingency fee agreement and, if the claimant wishes, seek representation by another attorney prior to entering into such agreement.

      (e) No waiver of the percentage limitations of subsection (b) of this section shall be valid unless the contingency fee agreement (1) is in writing, (2) sets forth in full the fee schedule of subsection (b) of this section, (3) contains a conspicuous statement, printed in boldface type at least twelve points in size, in substantially the following form: "I UNDERSTAND THAT THE FEE SCHEDULE SET FORTH IN SECTION 52-251c OF THE CONNECTICUT GENERAL STATUTES LIMITS THE AMOUNT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES PAYABLE BY A CLAIMANT AND THAT THE STATUTE WAS INTENDED TO INCREASE THE PORTION OF THE JUDGMENT OR SETTLEMENT THAT WAS ACTUALLY RECEIVED BY A CLAIMANT. NOTWITHSTANDING THAT THE LEGISLATIVE INTENT IN ENACTING THAT FEE SCHEDULE WAS TO CONFER A BENEFIT ON A CLAIMANT LIKE MYSELF, I KNOWINGLY AND VOLUNTARILY WAIVE THAT FEE SCHEDULE IN THIS CLAIM OR CIVIL ACTION.", and (4) is signed and acknowledged by the claimant before a notary public or other person authorized to take acknowledgments.

      (f) If a claimant waives the percentage limitations of subsection (b) of this section pursuant to this section, in no event shall (1) the total fee under the contingency fee agreement exceed thirty-three and one-third per cent of the damages awarded and received by the claimant or of the settlement amount received by the claimant, and (2) the claimant be required to repay any costs that the attorney incurred in investigating and prosecuting the claim or civil action if there is no recovery.

      (g) No fee shall be payable to any attorney who seeks a fee that exceeds the percentage limitations of subsection (b) of this section unless the claimant has waived such limitations pursuant to this section and the contingency fee agreement complies with the requirements of subsection (e) of this section.

      (h) For the purposes of this section, "damages awarded and received" means in a civil action in which final judgment is entered, that amount of the judgment or amended judgment entered by the court that is received by the claimant; "settlement amount received" means in a claim or civil action in which no final judgment is entered, the amount received by the claimant pursuant to a settlement agreement; and "fee" shall not include disbursements or costs incurred in connection with the prosecution or settlement of the claim or civil action, other than ordinary office overhead and expense.

      (P.A. 86-338, S. 1; P.A. 87-227, S. 1; P.A. 91-380, S. 1; P.A. 04-257, S. 131; P.A. 05-275, S. 1.)

      History: P.A. 87-227 amended Subsec. (a) to change the applicability of the section from "In any claim or civil action accruing on or after October 1, 1986, seeking damages as compensation for personal injury or wrongful death" to "In any claim or civil action to recover damages resulting from personal injury, wrongful death or damage to property occurring on or after October 1, 1987", to require the contract to comply with applicable provisions of the rules of professional conduct and to replace "damages awarded pursuant to a determination by the trier of fact" with "damages awarded and received by the claimant" and "amounts pursuant to a settlement agreement" with "settlement amount pursuant to a settlement agreement", amended Subsec. (b) to replace "percentage of the award or settlement amount" with "percentage of the damages awarded and received by the claimant or of the settlement amount received by the claimant", and added Subsec. (c) to define "damages awarded and received", "settlement amount received" and "fee"; P.A. 91-380 amended Subsec. (c) by revising the definitions of "damages awarded and received" and "settlement amount received" to provide that the amount received by a claimant in a claim or civil action brought pursuant to Sec. 38a-368 shall be reduced by any basic reparations benefits paid to the claimant pursuant to Sec. 38a-365; P.A. 04-257 attempted to make changes to provisions added by vetoed P.A. 04-155 and therefore such changes were void and not given effect, and added Subsec. (d) defining "medical malpractice claim or civil action" and "health care provider", effective June 14, 2004; P.A. 05-275 amended Subsec. (a)(2) to replace "settlement amount" with "the settlement amount received", amended Subsec. (b) to replace "arrangement" with "agreement", added new Subsec. (c) authorizing a claimant to waive the percentage limitations of Subsec. (b) if the claim or civil action is so substantially complex, unique or different from other wrongful death, personal injury or property damage claims or civil actions as to warrant a deviation from such percentage limitations and specifying factors that may indicate such complexity, uniqueness or difference, added new Subsec. (d) specifying the responsibilities of an attorney before a claimant enters into a contingency fee agreement that provides for a fee that exceeds the percentage limitations of Subsec. (b), added new Subsec. (e) specifying the requirements that a contingency fee agreement must comply with in order for a waiver of such percentage limitations to be valid, added new Subsec. (f) providing that if the claimant waives such percentage limitations the amount of the total fee is limited to thirty-three and one-third per cent and the claimant is not required to repay any costs incurred by the attorney if there is no recovery, added new Subsec. (g) prohibiting payment of a fee to an attorney who seeks a fee that exceeds such percentage limitations unless the claimant has waived such limitations and the agreement complies with Subsec. (e), redesignated existing Subsec. (c) as Subsec. (h) and amended said Subsec. to delete from definitions of "damages awarded and received" and "settlement amount received" provision that in a claim or civil action brought pursuant to Sec. 38a-368 such amount shall be reduced by any basic reparations benefits paid to the claimant pursuant to Sec. 38a-365 and deleted former Subsec. (d) defining "medical malpractice claim or civil action" and "health care provider", effective July 13, 2005, and applicable to causes of action accruing on or after that date.

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      Sec. 52-252. Costs for nonappearance of party giving notice of deposition.

      Decree of probate court not an "action" within meaning of statute. 271 C. 531.

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      Sec. 52-257. Fees of parties in civil actions.

      Where record did not support defendant's claim that plaintiff had waived his right to seek costs, and because judgment was rendered in favor of plaintiff, he was a prevailing party and, thus, entitled to costs even though only nominal damages had been awarded. 88 CA 583.

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      Sec. 52-260. Witness fees. (a) The fees of a witness for attendance before any court, the General Assembly or any committee thereof, when summoned by the state, or before any legal authority, shall be fifty cents a day, and for travel to the place of trial, except as provided in section 54-152, shall be the same amount per mile as provided for state employees pursuant to section 5-141c. Whenever a garnishee is required to appear before any court, such garnishee shall receive the same fees as a witness in a civil action and be paid in the same manner. The clerk of the Superior Court, upon request, shall, on the day of attendance, pay the fee of any witness summoned by the state to appear before the court.

      (b) When any regular or supernumerary police officer or any regular, volunteer or substitute firefighter of any town, city or borough is summoned to testify in any criminal proceeding pending before the Superior Court or the Department of Consumer Protection and the police officer or firefighter receives no compensation from the town, city or borough by which he is employed for the time so spent by him, the police officer or firefighter shall be allowed and paid one hundred dollars, together with the mileage allowed by law to witnesses in criminal cases, for each day he is required to attend the proceedings.

      (c) When any regular or supernumerary police officer or any regular or substitute firefighter is summoned to testify in his capacity as a police officer or firefighter in any court in a civil action and the police officer or firefighter receives no compensation from the municipality by which he is employed for the time he is in attendance at court, there shall be allowed and paid to the police officer or firefighter a witness fee of one hundred dollars, together with the mileage allowed by law to witnesses in criminal cases, for each day he is required to attend court. If the police officer or firefighter testifies in any such proceeding or civil action on a vacation day or compensatory day off, he shall be paid the sum of one hundred dollars, together with the mileage allowed by law, notwithstanding the fact that he is receiving compensation for such day from the town, city or borough by which he is employed.

      (d) The amounts paid under subsections (b) and (c) of this section shall be taxed as a part of the costs, and shall be in lieu of all other witness fees payable to such police officer or firefighter.

      (e) When any person is confined in a community correctional center upon the allegation of the state's attorney that he will be a material witness in a pending criminal proceeding, he shall receive, in addition to his legal fees as a witness, two dollars for each day that he is so confined.

      (f) When any practitioner of the healing arts, as defined in section 20-1, dentist, registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, as defined in section 20-87a, psychologist or real estate appraiser gives expert testimony in any action or proceeding, including by means of a deposition, the court shall determine a reasonable fee to be paid to such practitioner of the healing arts, dentist, registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, psychologist or real estate appraiser and taxed as part of the costs in lieu of all other witness fees payable to such practitioner of the healing arts, dentist, registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, psychologist or real estate appraiser.

      (g) When any public accountant licensed under chapter 389 is subpoenaed by any party, other than the state, to testify in his capacity as a public accountant in any action or proceeding, the court shall determine a reasonable fee to be paid to the public accountant and such fee shall be paid by the party issuing such subpoena.

      (1949 Rev., S. 3611; 1953, S. 1975d; 1957, P.A. 56; February, 1965, P.A. 574, S. 41; 1967, P.A. 273; 889; 1969, P.A. 297; 397; 720; P.A. 73-596; P.A. 74-183, S. 91, 291; P.A. 75-479, S. 3, 25; P.A. 76-436, S. 137, 681; P.A. 77-614, S. 165, 610; P.A. 78-289, S. 3; P.A. 80-190, S. 12; 80-482, S. 4, 170, 191, 339, 345, 348; P.A. 82-160, S. 131; 82-378; P.A. 83-251; P.A. 85-127; P.A. 86-182; P.A. 95-195, S. 82, 83; P.A. 00-45; P.A. 01-32, S. 1; 01-84, S. 4, 26; 01-186, S. 7; June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, S. 146(d); P.A. 04-169, S. 17; 04-189, S. 1; 04-232, S. 1; P.A. 05-45, S. 1.)

      History: 1965 act deleted obsolete references to criminal court of common pleas, its criminal jurisdiction having been abolished; 1967 acts provided compensation for policemen testifying in circuit court and added provision re fees paid to physicians or real estate appraisers for expert testimony; 1969 acts substituted "community correctional center" for "jail", referred to practitioners of healing arts and dentists rather than to physicians in provision added in 1967 re fees for expert testimony, authorized compensation for policemen summoned to testify "in any proceeding pending before the juvenile court", specified that policeman receives minimum witness fee if his attendance is required for less than four hours rather than two hours and added provision re fee paid to policeman summoned to testify on his regular day(s) off; P.A. 73-596 clarified applicability of provisions concerning policemen to firemen; P.A. 74-183 substituted court of common pleas for circuit court in provision re fees paid to policemen and firemen, reflecting transfer of circuit court functions to common pleas court, effective December 31, 1974; P.A. 75-479 replaced previous provisions which had based witness payments to policemen and firemen on their salaries and had applied only when they were not compensated for serving as witnesses by the town, city or borough employing them with provisions for payment of set fee of twenty dollars regardless of whether or not employing town, city or borough is also compensating them and imposed same fee for serving as witness on days off where previously compensation for service on such days was a minimum witness fee "equivalent to the payment for eight hours' attendance"; P.A. 76-436 divided section into Subsecs. and removed references to proceedings in court of common pleas or juvenile court, reflecting transfer of all trial jurisdiction to superior court, effective July 1, 1978; P.A. 77-614 replaced liquor control commission with division of liquor control within the department of business regulation in Subsec. (b), effective January 1, 1979; P.A. 78-289 raised witness fee for policemen and firemen from twenty to forty dollars and deleted former Subsec. (e) which had allowed witnesses summoned under Sec. 54-26 fee of two dollars per day and ten cents per mile for travel to and from court, relettering remaining Subsecs. accordingly; P.A. 80-190 deleted reference to proceedings before coroner in Subsec. (b); P.A. 80-482 made division of liquor control an independent department following abolition of department of business regulation, cancelling provision of the act which would have placed the division within the department of public safety; P.A. 82-160 rephrased the section; P.A. 82-378 amended Subsec. (b) to include witness fees for volunteer firemen; P.A. 83-251 added Subsec. (g) re fees for licensed public accountants; P.A. 85-127 amended Subsec. (f) to authorize payment of witness fees for registered nurse or licensed practical nurse; P.A. 86-182 amended Subsec. (g) to replace "subpoenaed by an adverse party" with "subpoenaed by any party"; P.A. 95-195 substituted Department of Consumer Protection for Department of Liquor Control in Subsec. (b), effective July 1, 1995; P.A. 00-45 amended Subsec. (a) to replace the fee for travel to the place of trial of "ten cents a mile" with provision that the fee "shall be the same amount per mile as provided for state employees pursuant to section 5-141c", to delete provision that a witness in a criminal trial shall receive for travel at said rate for one day only and for each day thereafter for travel shall be paid only his actual traveling expenses, not exceeding ten cents a mile, to delete provision that prohibited fees being allowed to bystanders called as witnesses in criminal trials, and to make a technical change for purposes of gender neutrality; P.A. 01-32 amended Subsec. (f) to replace "is summoned to give expert testimony" with "gives expert testimony", include the giving of expert testimony "by means of a deposition" and make provisions applicable to testimony by an advanced practice registered nurse; P.A. 01-84 amended Subsec. (f) to make technical changes, effective July 1, 2001; P.A. 01-186 amended Subsec. (a) by adding "except as provided in section 54-152" as exception re travel expenses for witnesses summoned by the state or before any legal authority; June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6 and P.A. 04-169 replaced Department of Consumer Protection with Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective July 1, 2004; P.A. 04-189 repealed Sec. 146 of June 30 Sp. Sess. P.A. 03-6, thereby reversing the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, effective June 1, 2004; P.A. 04-232 amended Subsecs. (b) and (c) to increase the fees paid to police officers and firefighters from forty to one hundred dollars and amended Subsecs. (b) to (d), inclusive, to make technical changes; P.A. 05-45 amended Subsec. (f) to make provisions applicable to a psychologist who gives expert testimony, effective July 1, 2005.

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