Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Waterbury, Waterbury
Eastridge Condominium Association, Inc.
Berta McEnerney aka Berta McEnerey aka Berta Sanches
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
Joseph H. Pellegrino, Judge Trial Referee.
The plaintiff, Eastridge Condominium Association, Inc., filed this action against a unit owner, the defendant, Berta McEnerey, for damages it incurred from an increase in its water bill during a period in 2012. The plaintiff claims that the increase in the water bill was caused by a water leak in unit #16, building #12, which was owned by the defendant. The operative three-count complaint is dated May 13, 2015. Count one claims that the defendant is responsible under General Statutes § 47-257(e) because of her failure to replace and or repair leaking plumbing and faucets. Count two claims that the defendant is responsible under the Declaration of Eastridge Condominium (Declaration), § 19(e),  for her failure to replace and repair a leaking faucet and, in addition, is responsible under § 47-257(e) for her failure to replace and or repair leaking plumbing fixtures and faucets. Count three claims that the defendant was negligent and is liable to the plaintiff pursuant to § 47-257(e).
These facts are not in dispute. The defendant is the owner of unit #16, building #12, at the Eastridge Condominium. The Eastridge Condominium is comprised of thirty-two units in three separate buildings. The defendant's unit is located in one of the buildings, designated as building #12. There are ten units in building #12. The City of Waterbury, Bureau of Water, supplies water to all of the units, including building #12. Each building is billed separately and quarterly for the water supplied to it. The individual units are not billed separately. The plaintiff pays the water bills and that cost is passed on to the individual unit owners through its common charges.
The plaintiff offered this evidence in support of its claims. Roger Nasciamento, a builder called by the plaintiff, testified that he visited the defendant's unit in April of 2011, and observed a crack in the toilet and water on the floor. The water bill for that period, in the amount of $2, 630.86, was introduced as Exhibit 2. Vincent Miceli (Miceli), the president of the Eastridge Condominium Association, Inc., and an owner of more than 50% of the units in the complex, testified that the water bill for that period was high. The defendant corrected the problem at that time. The defendant offered no credible testimony as to what was a normal bill or credible testimony as to what portion of that bill should be attributed to the defendant.
Miceli testified that on July 12, 2012, after receipt of what he considered was a high water bill for building #12 ($5, 148.49, Exhibit 4), he visited all ten units in building #12. He found that in the defendant's unit, the toilet was leaking and the water was running in the bathtub due to stripped shutoff valves. Miceli shut off the bathtub water and notified the defendant of the problem. The defendant fixed the leaking fixtures the next day.
The plaintiff seeks to recover the excess amounts it paid for water due to the leaking toilet and running water in the defendant's bathtub caused by the stripped shutoff valves. The defendant does not deny that the bathtub and toilet in her unit were leaking. How long the toilet and bathroom faucets were leaking is not known, nor was there evidence submitted by the plaintiff which establishes this fact. From the four water bills submitted into evidence, Exhibits 2, 3, 4, and 5, it is clear to the court that the bill of $5, 148.49 (Exhibit 4) that Miceli received before he found the leaks in the defendant's unit, on July 12, 2012, indicated a problem and was significantly in excess of the other bills submitted into evidence. " It is within the province of the [trier of fact] to draw reasonable and logical inferences from the facts proven . . . The [trier of fact] may draw reasonable inferences based on other inferences drawn from the evidence presented." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Carter, 151 Conn.App. 527, 534, 95 A.3d 1201, cert. granted, 314 Conn. 915, 100 A.3d 850 (2014). The court will agree that a reasonable inference may be found that the excess water charge in that bill was due to the leaks in the defendant's unit. The question is what is the excess that should be attributed to the defendant. The court finds that when the defendant was notified of the leak she fixed it the following day. The court has evidence that the bill received after the problem was corrected was $2, 289.15 (Exhibit 5). Although Miceli testified that this bill was high, there is no credible evidence as to what was normal. The court will find that the defendant is responsible for the difference in the bill following the correction of the problem (Exhibit 5) and the bill received prior to the correction of the problem (Exhibit 4) or $2, 859.34.
The plaintiff has made a claim for attorney fees under § 19.3(f) of the Declaration.
Section 19 of the Declaration provides the plaintiff the right to a statutory lien on a unit for any assessment imposed against any unit owner. Section 19.3(f) provides for the recovery of attorney fees if an action is brought in connection with a lien that is assessed. This action was not brought in connection with the enforcement of a lien assessed against the defendant. The plaintiff has no right, therefore, to its claim for attorney fees under § 19.3(f) of the Declaration. The claim for attorney fees is denied.
The plaintiff has also made a claim for the interest amount that the City of Waterbury imposed because the plaintiff was delinquent in its payment of the water bill dated June 15, 2012 (Exhibit 4). The defendant contests that she is responsible for the June 15, 2012 bill (Exhibit 4) and the plaintiff has not provided the defendant with a hearing pursuant to § 47-257(e). In addition, the court finds that the plaintiff never assessed the defendant, nor has the plaintiff established that the actions of the defendant as wilful misconduct or gross negligence. The plaintiff's claim for the interest it paid to the City of Waterbury is denied.
Judgment will enter in the amount of $2, 859.34 in favor of the plaintiff as against the defendant without interest.
It is so ...