Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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Defendant, the owner of real property, filed a subdivision map that purported to subdivide the property into three new parcels. Defendant, however, did not obtain permission from the city planning and zoning authorities before filing the revised subdivision map. Defendant subsequently obtained a mortgage loan from a predecessor-in-interest to the substitute plaintiff. The loan was secured by a mortgage on two of the tracts. Defendant later defaulted on the mortgage loan, and plaintiff’s predecessor-in-interest commenced this action to foreclose on the mortgage. Defendant objected to the foreclosure, arguing that a judgment of foreclosure would have the effect of validating an illegal subdivision of property. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and ordered a strict foreclosure of the two tracts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a trial court may render a judgment of foreclosure on mortgaged property that consists of parcels of land within a subdivision that has not been approved by municipal zoning authorities. View "ARS Investors II 2012-1 HVB, LLC v. Crystal, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Kettle Brook Realty, LLC, owned real property in the Town of East Windsor that that was assessed for purposes of the October 1, 2012 grand list. The Board of Assessment Appeals denied Plaintiff’s request for a reduction in the property’s assessed value. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint in the superior court alleging that its property had been overvalued. The Town filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because Plaintiff did not serve the appeal papers within the two-month period allotted by Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a. The superior court granted the Town’s motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that, under the plain language of section 12-117a, its appeal was timely commenced upon the filing of its appeal documents in the superior court even though the appeal was not served on the Town until a date beyond the expiration of the two-month appeal period. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to serve its appeal on the Town within the two-month limitation period, the trial court properly dismissed the appeal as untimely. View "Kettle Brook Realty, LLC v. Town of East Windsor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Chestnut Point Realty, LLC, owned real property in the Town of East Windsor that that was assessed for purposes of the October 1, 2012 grand list. The Board of Assessment Appeals denied Plaintiff’s request for a reduction in the property’s assessed value. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint in the superior court alleging that the property had been overvalued. The Town filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because Plaintiff did not serve the appeal papers within the two-month period allotted by Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a. The superior court granted the Town's motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that, under the plain language of section 12-117a, its appeal was timely commenced upon the filing of its appeal documents in the superior court even though the appeal was not served on the Town until a date beyond the expiration of the two-month appeal period. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to serve its appeal on the Town within the two-month limitation period, the trial court properly dismissed the appeal as untimely. View "Chestnut Point Realty, LLC v. Town of East Windsor" on Justia Law

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Defendants were the beneficiaries of a trust settled by the decedent. Plaintiffs brought this action seeking, inter alia, a declaratory judgment determining the rights and ownership interests of Defendants in a certain parcel of real property. The trial court awarded summary judgment in favor of Defendants, determining that the decedent’s failure to record a separate document limiting his powers “as trustee” in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. 47-20, when the decedent quitclaimed the real property to himself as trustee, did not have the effect of nullifying the transfer of the property to the trust corpus, thereby disallowing the decedent, as an individual, to subsequently devise that property to Plaintiffs through his will. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 47-20 did not apply in this case. Therefore, section 47-20 did not nullify the decedent’s quitclaim deed to himself as trustee, the property was a trust asset, and the specific devise in the decedent’s will was adeemed. View "Lackman v. McAnulty" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the owner of a parcel of land in the Town of Colchester, challenged the Town’s assessment of the property for the tax year 2011. The Colchester Board of Assessment Appeals upheld the Town’s original valuation. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Town had used an improper method for valuing the property. The trial court upheld the Town’s original assessment, determining that Plaintiff had not established that it was aggrieved by the Town’s valuation because it found that Plaintiff’s expert was not credible. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court applied the incorrect legal standard of valuation to the subject property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court’s determination that Plaintiff failed to establish aggrievement was not clearly erroneous, and the trial court properly rejected Plaintiff’s appeal. View "Nutmeg Housing Development Corp. v. Colchester" on Justia Law

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In 1989, Connecticut National Mortgage Company brought this action seeking to foreclose a mortgage on a parcel of real property owned by Defendant. The trial court rendered a judgment of foreclosure in 1994. That judgment has been opened and modified several times over the years. In 2012, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. was substituted as the plaintiff. On June 8 2015, the trial court entered a new judgment of strict foreclosure extending defendant’s law day to August 4, 2015. On June 18, 2015, the trial court denied Defendanat’s motion to vacate the new judgment. On June 26, 2015, Defendant filed an appeal. On January 13, 2016, the Appellate Court dismissed the appeal as moot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the June 8, 2015 judgment triggered an automatic stay and that the appellate stay prevented title from vesting in the plaintiff by operation of law when Defendant failed to exercise her right of redemption on August 4, 2015. Therefore, the case should not have been dismissed as moot. View "Connecticut National Mortgage Co. v. Knudsen" on Justia Law

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The Indian Spring Land Company (Plaintiff), the owner of an unimproved tract of land, filed an application to construct a gravel access road subject to certain conditions. The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency of the Town of Greenwich (Defendant) granted Plaintiff’s application, subject to certain conditions. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that its road construction activities were “directly related to its farming operations” and were therefore permitted as of right, thus not requiring the approval of a wetlands agency under Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-40(a)(1). The trial court concluded that Defendant had the necessary jurisdiction to attach special conditions to Plaintiff’s permit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court incorrectly interpreted section 22a-40(a)(1); and (2) under the proper interpretation of the statute, Defendant did not have jurisdiction to regulate the construction of Plaintiff’s access road. View "Indian Spring Land Co. v. Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Agency" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was the homeowner’s association for a common interest community. Defendant owned a condominium unit in the community. Pursuant to a "standard collection policy" adopted by Plaintiff in 2011, Plaintiff brought this action seeking to foreclose a statutory lien for allegedly delinquent common expenses, attorney’s fees, and costs. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction due to Plaintiff’s failure to vote to commence a foreclosure action against Defendant’s unit or to adopt a standard foreclosure policy pursuant to the notice and comment requirements of Connecticut’s Common Interest Ownership Act. Plaintiff, in turn, argued that its policy was an "internal business operating procedure" rather than a rule and therefore was not subject to the notice and comment procedures for rules. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff, concluding that Plaintiff’s standard foreclosure policy was an internal business operating procedure, not a rule. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the standard foreclosure policy is a rule and that the rule-making requirements are jurisdictional. Remanded with direction to dismiss Plaintiff’s action. View "Neighborhood Ass’n v. Limberger" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a partnership and an LLC, were related entities with common owners. The partnership acquired a commercial office complex and later transferred ownership of the property to the LLC. In 2008, the City of Norwalk’s tax assessor set the fair market value of the partnership at approximately $49 million. The trial court sustained Plaintiffs’ property tax appeal and reduced the valuation of the LLC’s property by approximately $15 million. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ appeal because the LLC had not appeared in administrative proceedings before the City’s Board of Assessment Appeals and did not initiate the appeal to the trial court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that although the tax appeal was initially brought by a nonaggrieved party, the partnership, the appeal was also maintained by the LLC, an aggrieved party that had properly been added to the trial court proceedings by way of a promptly filed amended complaint. View "Fairfield Merrittview Ltd. P’ship v. City of Norwalk" on Justia Law

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The predecessors of Plaintiff and Defendants entered into a right-of-way agreement that created an express easement for the benefit of property owned by Plaintiff over a driveway located on the property owned by Defendants. Plaintiff commenced this action asserting a quiet title claim and a claim seeking an injunction restoring Plaintiff’s rights under the agreement. Defendants raised special defenses, asserting that Plaintiff’s property had been used for purposes other than “professional offices or residential uses” in violation of the terms of the agreement. The trial court entered judgment for Defendants, concluding that the easement was in effect until Plaintiff’s property was used by a mortgage brokerage, a home health-care agency, and an appliance delivery coordination service, which tenancies terminated the agreement. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Appellate Court improperly concluded that the term “professional offices,” as used in the agreement, was plain an unambiguous; and (2) using the broader definition of the term “professional” indicates that the agreement did not preclude offices of the type that had been previously operated out of Plaintiff’s property. Remanded. View "NPC Offices, LLC v. Kowaleski" on Justia Law