Appellate Court of Connecticut.

AMERICA’S WHOLESALE LENDER v. Gail M. PAGANO et al.

america-wholesale-lender-v-pagano

Decided: February 15, 2005

SCHALLER, DRANGINIS and BERDON, Js.Stephen P. Wright, Milford, for the appellant (named defendant). Peter A. Ventre, Hartford, for the appellee (substitute plaintiff).Opinion

The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether a corporation that brings an action solely in its trade name, without the corporation itself being named as a party, has standing so as to confer jurisdiction on the court.   We conclude that, because a trade name is not an entity with legal capacity to sue, the corporation has no standing to litigate the merits of the case.   We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our disposition of this appeal.   On January 22, 2001, the defendant Gail M. Pagano executed and delivered a note in the amount of $45,000 and a mortgage on her real property to the original plaintiff in this action, America’s Wholesale Lender (America’s).   America’s is the trade name of Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (Countrywide), a corporation with its principal place of  business in California. On November 27, 2002, America’s commenced this action, alleging that the defendant had defaulted on the note and seeking to foreclose on the defendant’s property.   On February 11, 2003, America’s filed a motion to substitute the Bank of New York, as trustee, as the plaintiff in order to reflect an assignment of the note and mortgage that Countrywide had made to the Bank of New York.

On February 27, 2003, the defendant filed an objection to the motion to substitute the Bank of New York, as trustee, as the plaintiff, as well as a motion to dismiss.   In both the objection and the motion to dismiss, the defendant argued that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because America’s did not have the legal capacity to sue.   The court reserved judgment on the motion to substitute until after it ruled on the defendant’s motion to dismiss The court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss and later granted America’s motion to substitute the Bank of New York as the plaintiff.   Ultimately, the court rendered summary judgment as to liability in favor of the substitute plaintiff, the defendant’s default on the note not being disputed.   This appeal followed.

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