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Summerhill, LLC v. City of Meriden

Appellate Court of Connecticut

January 19, 2016

SUMMERHILL, LLC
v.
CITY OF MERIDEN ET AL

         Argued November 19, 2015

          Action to recover damages for, inter alia, breach of contract, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven, where the court, Markle, J., granted the defendants' motion to strike; thereafter, the case was transferred to the judicial district of Hartford, Complex Litigation Docket; subsequently, the court, Sheridan, J., granted in part the defendants' motion for summary judgment; thereafter, the court, Sheridan, J., bifurcated the trial; subsequently, the court, Sheridan, J., granted the defendants' motion for a directed verdict and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court.

          Affirmed.

          SYLLABUS

         The plaintiff company sought to recover damages for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing from the defendant city of Meriden, the defendant city manager, K, and the defendant city director of planning and development. The plaintiff owned certain land in the city and was restricted from developing the property because the city had designated it as part of a ridgeline protection zone, which is an overlay zone designed to protect certain geological formations. The plaintiff's prior counsel, S, had met with K and discussed hiring a geologist to try to prove to the city that the plaintiff's property should not be included within the ridgeline protection zone. The plaintiff, relying on an undated letter that S had sent to K following their meeting, claimed that the meeting resulted in a contract with the city and K individually. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for a directed verdict as to the claims against the city and its agents for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, concluding that if a contract had been formed it could not be enforced against the city because its agents were not authorized to enter into such an agreement. From the judgment rendered thereon, the plaintiff appealed to this court, claiming that the trial court improperly directed the verdict in favor of K because the court failed to give due weight to the evidence of the alleged agreement with K. Held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting the motion for a directed verdict in favor of K, there having been insufficient evidence to infer that a contract was formed between the plaintiff and K in his individual capacity: even when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the letter from S to K merely reflected the position of the plaintiff in proposing a contractual relationship and lacked the essential elements of an agreement, as it did not prove a meeting of the minds on contractual terms to which K intended to be bound; furthermore, the letter did not set forth any consideration to support the formation of a contract, nor did the plaintiff provide any direct evidence that any alleged consideration was actually offered or accepted, and the plaintiff was unable to refute K's testimony that a contract had not been formed or to show that it intended to contract with K individually.

         Dominic J. Aprile, for the appellant (plaintiff).

         Jody N. Cappello, with whom was Sara J. Ray, for the appellees (defendants).

         Alvord, Keller and Flynn, Js.

          OPINION

Page 1226

         [162 Conn.App. 470] ALVORD, J.

         The plaintiff, Summerhill, LLC, appeals from the judgment of the trial court granting the motion for a directed verdict in favor of the defendant Lawrence [162 Conn.App. 471] J. Kendzior.[1] The plaintiff argues that the trial court erred by granting a directed verdict in favor of the defendant as to the claims of breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing

Page 1227

because the court " fail[ed] to give due weight to the evidence of the agreement between plaintiff and defendant." We affirm the judgment of the trial court.[2]

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The plaintiff owned 12.44 acres of land at 39 Sams Road in Meriden. The plaintiff was restricted from developing the property because the city had designated it as part of its ridgeline protection zone.[3] The plaintiff, through its managing member and [162 Conn.App. 472] other associated companies, has been in litigation with the city over this piece of property since at least 1994. C ...


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