Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding that Defendants had trespassed on property that Plaintiff owned. When Plaintiff commenced this action alleging trespass Defendants claimed that Plaintiff could not establish its ownership or possessory interest in the property on which Defendants were building. The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiff and issued a permanent mandatory injunction ordering Defendants to remove structures from Plaintiff’s property that were not authorized by the permits issued to Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Plaintiff owned the subject property, and (2) the scope of the trial court’s injunctive relief was not overly broad. View "FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s appeal from the decision of the Town of Lyme and its Board of Selectmen (collectively, Defendants) determining the lost or uncertain boundaries of the westerly end of Brockway Ferry Road pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 13a-39. On appeal, Plaintiff challenged the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board and the trial court and argued that the trial court’s determination of the highway’s width was clearly erroneous. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court correctly determined that the Board had jurisdiction to define the highway’s boundaries under section 13a-39 despite the absence of a prior judicial determination regarding the highway’s legal status; (2) the proceedings before the Board complied with section 13a-39, and thus the trial court was not divested of subject matter jurisdiction; and (3) the trial court’s finding of the highway’s boundaries was not clearly erroneous. View "Marchesi v. Board of Selectmen of the Town of Lyme" on Justia Law

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In certain circumstances, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-150bb permits an award of attorney’s fees to a defendant when a plaintiff withdraws an action as of right pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-80 prior to a hearing on the merits. Plaintiff filed a foreclosure action against Defendant, but when the action had been pending for almost one year, Plaintiff withdrew its action as a matter of right prior to any hearing on the merits. Defendant sought an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to section 42-150bb. The trial court denied the motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that once a defendant moves for an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to section 42-150bb after a termination of proceedings that in some way favors the defendant, a rebuttable presumption exists that the defendant is entitled to attorney’s fees, and it is for the trial court to determine whether such an award is proper in light of the totality of the circumstances. View "Connecticut Housing Finance Authority v. Alfaro" on Justia Law

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The Connecticut Supreme Court held that the Appellate Court properly concluded that the trial court should not have rendered summary judgment in favor of defendant, because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether an easement by necessity over defendant's property should be granted for the installation of commercial utilities. The court explained that, consistent with the broad principle that easements by necessity require only a reasonable necessity, the public policy favoring the effective use of land, the implied conveyance of rights necessary to reasonable enjoyment of property, and the law of other jurisdictions, public policy favors recognition of easements by necessity for utilities over a preexisting deeded right-of-way. The court further explained that when a right-of-way already exists, an expansion of that easement for commercial utilities will be allowed as long as it is reasonably necessary for the beneficial enjoyment of the dominant estate and does not unreasonably impair the beneficial enjoyment of the servient estate, and trial courts should balance the intent of the parties regarding use at the time of severance, the relative enjoyment of the properties, and the burdens imposed by the easement in order to determine the overall costs and benefits to the parties. View "Francini v. Goodspeed Airport, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment for the Town of Hebron on this complaint brought by Plaintiffs seeking damages for a temporary taking, temporary nuisance, and tortious interference with Plaintiffs’ business expectancies. The trial court concluded that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata because they arose out of the same operative facts as Plaintiffs’ earlier-filed claim for injunctive relief against the Town. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to identify a sufficiently compelling reason to exempt their claims from the preclusive effect of res judicata. View "Wellswood Columbia, LLC v. Town of Hebron" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court awarding Plaintiff $899,480 in damages plus prejudgment interest for his claim that Defendant, the city of Norwalk, inversely condemned a commercial building by taking, through the power of eminent domain, Plaintiff’s parking lot located across the street. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court properly found that Defendant inversely condemned the commercial building because, after Defendant took the parking lot, the use of the commercial building was substantially destroyed; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Defendant’s judicial estoppel claim. View "Barton v. Norwalk" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a developer, appealed a decision of Defendant, a planning and zoning commission, denied Plaintiff’s application for an affordable housing subdivision pursuant to the Affordable Housing Appeals Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 8-30g. The trial court sustained Plaintiff’s administrative appeal. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the commission was required to grant Plaintiff’s application for subdivision approval despite the application’s lack of compliance with a municipal road ordinance; and (2) the trial court properly ordered the commission to approve Plaintiff’s application “as is” rather than for consideration of conditions of approval. View "Brenmor Properties, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Commission of Town of Lisbon" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether a conservation restriction on private property was violated by the owner of that property and, if so, whether the remedies ordered by the trial court were proper. The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with the trial court's interpretation of the conservation restriction and its consequent finding that defendant had violated it in multiple respects, and the court saw no impropriety with respect to the portion of the trial court's judgment awarding plaintiff equitable relief. However, the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with defendant that the trial court's award of punitive damages was noncompliant with the authorizing provision, General Statutes 52-560a(d), and that its award of attorney's fees, in one respect, was improper. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Lyme Land Conservation Trust v. Platner" on Justia 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