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Perugini v. Devino

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

December 2, 2008

Nicola PERUGINI
v.
Kenneth M. DEVINO.

Argued Sept. 15, 2008.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Frederick W. Krug, Waterbury, for the appellants (defendants).

Robert L. Fisher, Jr., Litchfield, for the appellee (plaintiff).

DiPENTIMA, LAVINE and DUPONT, Js.

DiPENTIMA, J.

[111 Conn.App. 438] The defendants, Kenneth M. Devino and One Mattoon Road, LLC, [1] appeal from the judgment of the trial court clarifying its initial judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff, Nicola Perugini. On appeal, the defendants claim that the court improperly (1) opened and modified its initial judgment more than four months after the entry of that judgment and (2) issued an injunction that was overbroad. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts and procedural history provide the necessary background for the resolution of the defendants' appeal. The plaintiff owns a parcel of property located in Waterbury. Falls Avenue, a public highway, lies on the property's western boundary. Its southern boundary, Mattoon Road, is owned solely by One Mattoon Road, LLC. The plaintiff's deed granted " a perpetual right-of-way in common with others to use Mattoon Road for a distance of 175 feet from Falls Avenue." The driveway to the plaintiff's house connects to this express right-of-way and was described by the court as the first driveway.

There is a commercial building located on the easterly portion of the plaintiff's property. Access to this building is by way of a driveway that connects to Mattoon Road beyond and further east of the express right-of-way and was identified by the court as the second driveway. There was no contract between the parties regarding the plaintiff's use of Mattoon Road to the second driveway. At some point, the parties began discussing the plaintiff's use of Mattoon Road to access the [111 Conn.App. 439] second driveway, including the possibility of a license agreement. In May, 2005, the plaintiff was presented with the options of either signing a licensing agreement or closing the second driveway. In August, 2005, the defendants placed a series of large concrete blocks along Mattoon Road blocking the entrance to the second

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driveway, closing off access to the commercial building.

On September 6, 2005, the plaintiff commenced an action, alleging that he had used Mattoon Road to access the second driveway for more than fifteen years in a manner that was open, visible, continuous, uninterrupted and under a claim of right. Accordingly, the plaintiff claimed that he had acquired a legal right and title to the use of Mattoon Road to access the second driveway and that the defendants wrongfully had obstructed his use. The court issued a memorandum of decision on August 31, 2006, and rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff. Specifically, it stated: " Therefore, judgment shall enter for the plaintiff by an order confirming that the plaintiff has acquired a prescriptive easement over and through the second driveway out onto Mattoon Road [2] and an injunction ordering the removal of the concrete blocks preventing access to the second driveway or in any way obstructing with the right-of-way from the second driveway to Mattoon Road."

On September 26, 2006, the plaintiff filed a postjudgment motion for contempt, alleging that the defendants had failed to remove the concrete blocks. The plaintiff, on January 3, 2007, subsequently filed a motion for clarification of the court's judgment.[3] In an amended [111 Conn.App. 440] motion to clarify, filed on January 8, 2007, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants had not removed the blocks but merely stacked three of the blocks on top of three other blocks.

On July 26, 2007, the court issued a memorandum of decision with respect to the plaintiff's motion to clarify.[4] The court found that both parties had misinterpreted its judgment. With respect to the defendants, the court stated that they " misinterpreted the court's decision by only removing three blocks and then placing them on top of existing blocks." [5] The court then stated that the prescriptive easement applied only to the second driveway and parking areas but did not extend to the gravel and grass area portions that abutted Mattoon Road.

Prior to the court's initial decision, the blocks had been placed on the boundary line between the plaintiff's property and Mattoon Road, running east to west. Following that decision, the defendants had moved the westernmost blocks and stacked them on the easternmost blocks. They also had not moved the center blocks. In the second memorandum of the decision, the court ordered that ...


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