Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the decision of the trial court to deny Defendant's motion to open the judgment and vacated the trial court's judgment of foreclosure by sale in favor of Plaintiff, The Bank of New York Mellon, holding that the appellate court erred.The trial court concluded that Defendant's motion to open constituted a collateral attack on an earlier judgment. Defendant appealed, arguing that Plaintiff lacked standing to pursue foreclosure, and thus, the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the action. The appellate court disagreed, concluding that Defendant's motion to open constituted an impermissible collateral attack on the foreclosure judgment. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the appellate court (1) erroneously concluded that Defendant's motion to open was a collateral attack because, at the time Defendant filed his motion to open, the trial court had jurisdiction to open the judgment under Neb. Rev. Stat. 52-212a; and (2) this Court rejects the alternative ground that the trial court properly denied Defendant's motion to open in which he claimed that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Tope" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court concluding that Plaintiff had failed to establish ownership of a disputed parcel of property by adverse possession but reversed the trial court's determination that Defendant had established its counterclaim for slander of title, holding that the trial court erred in part.Defendant held record title to the disputed parcel at issue, which abutted Plaintiff's property. Plaintiff brought this quiet title action alleging that her predecessors in title had acquired fee ownership of the parcel by adverse possession. Defendant filed a counterclaim alleging slander of title. The trial court rendered judgment for Defendant as to all claims and counterclaims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial court (1) correctly determined that Plaintiff failed to establish adverse possession of the parcel; but (2) erred in determining that Defendant established its counterclaim for slander of title. View "Dowling v. Heirs of Bond" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court in favor of the town of Hamden in this tax dispute, holding that the appellate court correctly determined that the word "submit" in Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-63c(a) unambiguously requires that an assessor receive income and expense forms by June 1.Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-63c(a) requires the owners of certain rental property to "submit" income and expense information to their municipal tax assessor "not later than the first day of June." Plaintiff in this case mailed the relevant information on May 31, 2016, but the assessor did not receive the forms until June 2, 2016. The assessor imposed a ten percent penalty on Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that the penalty was improper because its timely mailing was sufficient under the statute. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant, and the appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the word "submit" requires receipt of the income and expense forms no later than June 1; and (2) the ten percent penalty imposed on Plaintiff pursuant to section 12-63(d) was valid. View "Seramonte Associates, LLC v. Town of Hamden" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court rendered primarily in favor of the Town of Colebrook in this municipal property tax appeal, holding that equipment associated with wind turbines should have been classified as personal, rather than real, property.In its appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court improperly upheld the Town's classification of its two wind turbines and their associated equipment as real property pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-64(a). The Supreme Court agreed in part, holding (1) the wind turbines were properly classified as real property; but (2) the associated equipment must be treated as personal property pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-41(c). View "Wind Colebrook South, LLC v. Colebrook" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court's judgment reversing in part the decision of the Town Plan and Zoning Commission of the Town of Fairfield extending its approvals of a special permit and a coastal site plan review granted to Fairfield Commons, LLC, holding that a local zoning authority may not, by regulation, condition the continuing validity of a special permit on completing development in connection with the permitted use within a period of time that is shorter than the statutory period.The appellate court in this case affirmed the trial court's judgment concluding that the Commission improperly granted Fairfield Commons' request for an extension of its special permit deadline to complete development but reversed the court's conclusion that the special permit could not be subject to a temporal limitation as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a special permit regulation may not prescribe a shorter time limitation for completing development than the statutory period set forth for completion of development in connection with an accompanying site plan under Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-3(i) and (m); and (2) the appellate court incorrectly concluded that the special permit at issue expired in April 2011. View "International Investors v. Town Plan & Zoning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court concluding that the Home Improvement Act (Act), Conn. Gen. Stat. 20-418 et seq., did not apply to work performed by Defendant on Plaintiff's property, holding that Plaintiff's claim under the Act was unavailing.The trial court found in favor of Plaintiff on his claims alleging breach of contract, violations of the Act, and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq. The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiff. The appellate court affirmed with respect to the breach of contract count but reversed with respect to the remaining claims, ruling that the work performed by Defendant fell within the new home exception of the Act, and therefore, Plaintiff failed to state a claim under both the Act and CUTPA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the work performed by Defendant fell within the new home exception. View "Winakor v. Savalle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court awarding Plaintiff $200,309 in damages for Defendants' breach of a lease agreement, holding that the trial court improperly allocated the burden of proof as to mitigation in determining the damages award.At issue in this appeal was how the executive orders issued by Governor Ned Lamont during the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the enforceability of a commercial lease agreement for premises that Defendants leased from Plaintiff. Both parties appealed from the judgment of the trial court awarding Plaintiff damages. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial court (1) did not err in determining that the economic effects of the executive orders did not relieve Defendants of their obligations under the lease agreement; but (2) improperly relieved Defendants of their burden of proving that Plaintiff's efforts were commercially unreasonable under the circumstances, thus necessitating a new damages hearing. View "AGW Sono Partners, LLC v. Downtown Soho, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the trial court's dismissal of this appeal from the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Bethel denying Plaintiffs' application for a special permit to construct a crematory on their property, holding that the denial was not supported by substantial evidence.Plaintiffs applied for a special permit to construct a crematory on their property. The Commission denied the application. Relying on St. Joseph's High School, Inc. v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 170 A.3d 73 (Conn. 2017), the trial court dismissed Plaintiff's ensuing appeal, concluding that there was substantial evidence to support the Commission's decision. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record did not reveal substantial evidence on which the Commission based its decision. View "McLoughlin v. Planning & Zoning Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court sustaining Plaintiff's appeal from the decision of the Board of Representatives of the City of Stamford rejecting a zoning amendment approved by the Zoning Board of the City of Stamford, holding that the board of representatives did not have the authority to determine the validity of the petition.Local property owners filed a protest petition opposing the amendment. After determining that the protest petition was valid, the board of representatives considered and rejected the amendment. The trial court sustained Plaintiff's appeal, concluding that the board of representatives did not have the authority to consider whether the petition was valid. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in concluding that the board of representatives did not have the authority to determine the validity of the protest petition; but (2) the petition was valid because it contained the requisite number of signatures. View "High Ridge Real Estate Owner, LLC v. Board of Representatives" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court sustaining Plaintiffs' appeal from a determination of the Board of Representatives of the City of Stamford approving a protest petition that objected to master plan amendments approved by the Planning Board of the City of Stamford, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs filed an application with the planning board to amend the City of Stamford's master plan. The planning board subsequently filed its own application to amend the city's master plan. The planning board approved both applications with some modifications. After local property owners filed a protest petition the board of representatives determined that the petition was valid and rejected the planning board's approval of the amendments. The trial court sustained Plaintiffs' appeal, holding that even if the board of representatives had the authority to vote on the validity of the protest petition, the vote was not sufficient. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the protest petition was invalid as to Plaintiffs' proposed amendment. View "Strand/BRC Group, LLC v. Board of Representatives" on Justia Law