Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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In this public nuisance action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court concluding that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict due to an alleged fatal inconsistency between two special interrogatories, holding that the jury's answers to the two special interrogatories were not inconsistent.Plaintiff alleged that the Town of Redding should have guarded a specific retaining wall located outside of a local pub by a fancy and that the absence of a fence constituted an absolute public nuisance and caused him to sustain personal injuries. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Defendant. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the jury's response to the first special interrogatory - that the unfenced retaining wall was inherently dangerous - was fatally inconsistent with the jury's response to the third special interrogatory - that the Town's use of the land was reasonable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the jury's answers to the first and third special interrogatories could be harmonized in light of established nuisance jurisprudence. View "Fisk v. Redding" on Justia Law

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In this summary process action for nonpayment of rent under the terms of a commercial lease the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment of possession rendered in favor of Plaintiffs, holding that the trial court properly denied Defendants equitable relief from forfeiture of their tenancy.After the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's judgment of possession rendered in favor of Plaintiffs, Defendants appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying their special defense of equitable nonforfeiture. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts of this case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant Defendants equitable relief from forfeiture. View "Boccanfuso v. Daghoghi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment of possession rendered in favor of Plaintiffs, holding that the trial court properly rejected Defendants' claim that the doctrine of equitable nonforfeiture should have operated to prevent their eviction in a summary process action for nonpayment of rent under the terms of a commercial lease.After Defendants failed to pay rent, Plaintiffs served a notice to quit on Defendants, thereby terminating the parties' lease. Because Defendants did not subsequently vacate the premises Plaintiffs initiated this summary process action. In response, Defendants raised special defenses, including the special defense of equitable nonforfeiture. The trial court rendered judgment of possession for Plaintiffs. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant Defendants equitable relief from forfeiture and granting possession of the premises to Plaintiffs. View "Boccanfuso v. Daghoghi" on Justia Law

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In this appeal requiring the Supreme Court to determine the priority of tax liens levied on real property by the Georgetown Special Taxing District the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court subordinating liens acquired by Defendant to the Georgetown Fire District, holding that the fire district's tax liens were subordinate to those of Defendant, which, in turn, were subordinate to those of the town.Plaintiffs - the town of Redding, the Redding Water Pollution Control Commission, and Georgetown Fire District - brought this action to foreclose municipal liens against Defendant RJ Tax Lien Investments, LLC, who had been assigned real estate tax liens originally levied by the taxing district. The trial court granted the motions for partial summary judgment with respect to priority filed by the town and the fire district and rendered a judgment of strict foreclosure in favor of the town and the fire district. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial court incorrectly concluded that Defendant's liens were subordinate to those of the fire district. View "Redding v. Georgetown Land Development Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding that the trial court incorrectly determined that Defendant was relieved of its duty to defend in the underlying property dispute.Plaintiff contracted with New Beginnings Residential Renovations, LLC to renovate Plaintiff's house. The house received extensive physical damage during the renovation, and Plaintiff brought an action against New Beginnings for property damage. New Beginnings tendered defense of the case to Defendant pursuant to a commercial general liability insurance policy. Defendant declined to defend under two of the policy's "business risk" exclusions. Plaintiff was awarded a default judgment against New Beginnings. Plaintiff then brought this action against Defendant under the direct action statute seeking recovery for the judgment against New Beginnings. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that the policy exclusions precluded coverage. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the exclusions did not relieve Defendant of its duty to defend. View "Nash Street, LLC v. Main Street America Assurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment determining Defendant's method of calculating a supplemental sewerage benefit assessment levied against certain of Plaintiff's real property, holding that the trial court incorrectly determined that Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-249 required Defendant to use the same method to calculate the supplemental assessment as was used to calculate the initial assessment.At issue was whether Defendant had authority to levy a supplemental assessment against Plaintiff's property and, if so, whether it used the correct methodology in calculating that assessment. A predecessor of Defendant levied a sewerage benefit assessment against the owners of the property. Later, the building was demolished and a new commercial office building was constructed in its place. No supplemental assessment was levied as a result of the construction. Plaintiff later purchased the property and converted it into a residential condominium community. Defendant then levied a supplemental assessment on the property. The trial court concluded that Defendant's supplemental assessment calculation violated section 7-249 because it should have been calculated on the basis of street frontage, as was the initial assessment. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Defendant had authority to levy the supplemental assessment; and (2) the trial court erred in determining that Defendant incorrectly calculated the supplemental assessment. View "777 Residential, LLC v. Metropolitan District Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court insofar as it upheld the trial court's order directing Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for property taxes and insurance premiums, holding that the ordered relief was inconsistent with the remedial scheme available to a mortgagee in a strict foreclosure.At issue was whether a trial court may order a mortgagor to reimburse a mortgagee for the mortgagee's advancements of property taxes and insurance premiums during the pendency of an appeal from a judgment of strict foreclosure. The trial court ordered Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for such property tax and insurance premium payments, and the Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court abused its discretion in directing Defendants to make monetary payments to Plaintiff outside of a deficiency judgment; and (2) the Appellate Court's judgment is affirmed in all other respects. View "JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Ass'n v. Essaghof" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over who had the authority to lease shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town of Branford, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Town, holding that summary judgment was improper.Plaintiffs had been granted the right of first refusal by Branford's Shellfish Commission to lease certain shellfishing grounds located in the Town, but the Commission leased the grounds to Plaintiffs' competitor. Plaintiff brought this action alleging breach of contract and promissory estoppel and that it enjoyed a right of first refusal. The Town moved for summary judgment, arguing that the right of first refusal was no a valid or enforceable contract because the Commission lacked authority to enter into it. The trial court agreed, holding that only the Town's Board of Selectmen had authority to lease the shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "Shoreline Shellfish, LLC v. Branford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Appellate Court summarily dismissing Defendants' appeal challenging the priority of Plaintiff's mortgage over Defendants' mortgage for want of a final judgment, holding that a determination of the priority of mortgages can be challenged in an appeal from the judgment of foreclosure by sale, before the foreclosure sale has taken place, when the priority of the foreclosing plaintiff's mortgage is in dispute.Plaintiff sought a judgment of foreclosure on certain real property and a declaratory judgment that his mortgage had priority over an alleged mortgage on the property held by Defendants. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal for want of a final judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the judgment of foreclosure by sale was a final judgment that manifestly met the requirements of Practice Book 61-2. View "Saunders v. KDFBS, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court ordering strict foreclosure, holding that the Appellate Court erred in concluding that an initial entry into a record of debt was not admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule when that entry was provided by a third party in the course of the sale of the debt.Specifically, the Court held that the Appellate Court (1) did not err in concluding that Jenzack Partners, LLC (Jenzack) had standing to foreclose a mortgage executed in support of a personal guarantee of a promissory note given by a third party even though the guarantee was not explicitly assigned to the foreclosing party; and (2) erred in determining that the business records exception did not apply to Jenzack's calculation of the debt owed on the promissory note where the initial entry into the record of the debt was provided by a third party. View "Jenzack Partners, LLC v. Stoneridge Associates, LLC" on Justia Law