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CHFA Small Properties v. Campbell

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Hartford, Hartford, Housing Session

April 1, 2016

CHFA Small Properties
v.
Dwynn Campbell et al

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON COMPLAINT FOR SUMMARY PROCESS AND MOTION TO DISMISS

          Nicola E. Rubinow, J.

         This memorandum of decision addresses the summary action brought by the plaintiff CHFA Small Properties (CHFA) to obtain possession of premises allegedly occupied by the defendants Dwynn Campbell (Campbell) and/or James G. Crooms (Crooms) through an eight count complaint: the First and Second Counts sound against Campbell alone; the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Counts sound against both Campbell and Crooms; and the Seventh and Eighth Counts sound against Crooms alone. The memorandum further addresses Campbell's three separate special defenses and the issues raised by her November 19, 2015 Motion to Dismiss.

         The case was tried to the court over the course of several days; as Campbell's motion to dismiss was filed after trial had commenced, the court consolidated its hearing with the ongoing proceedings.[1] The court received a final brief on December 9, 2015. CHFA was represented by counsel; initially self-represented, Campbell was represented by counsel during the evidentiary portion of the matter and through argument.[2] Crooms was self-represented.[3]

         As the plaintiff, CHFA bears the burden of proving the operative allegations of its complaint by a fair preponderance of the evidence.[4] Campbell bears like burden of proof insofar as her special defenses are concerned.[5]

         I

         FACTUAL FINDINGS

         The court received testimony from multiple witnesses and received numerous documents in evidence; all evidence was vigorously tested by cross-examination. The court has reviewed the pleadings and considered the evidence in its entirety using the applicable principles of law.[6] Accordingly, the court finds the facts set forth throughout this decision to have been proved by a fair preponderance of the evidence.

         CHFA is the landlord for the residential property development known as Eno Farms which contains fifty dwelling units, including the dwelling unit known as 1 Hitchcock Circle in Simsbury, Connecticut. CHFA uses Konover Residential Corporation as its property managing agency; Julie Hoylst is the assigned property manager for Eno Farms and its dwelling units. 1 Hitchcock Circle is a three-bedroom, two and a half bathroom dwelling unit. (Ex. 5; Tes. Hoylst.)

         Now aged sixty-three, Campbell has leased and lived at 1 Hitchcock Circle for approximately 23 years. She is the mother of two sons. Born in late 1981, Crooms lived with his mother Campbell and his older brother at 1 Hitchcock Circle from late childhood into adulthood; he was a party to the lease for that dwelling unit in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.[7] In March 2012, Campbell completed and signed a Recertification Update in preparation for renewal of her lease. Thereupon, she indicated that she was receiving unemployment compensation and resided at the premises with Crooms and Crooms' then young children Destiny and Tyshawn.[8] As an adult Tenant at 1 Hitchcock Circle, Crooms also signed the Recertification Update in March 2012. From Crooms' and Campbell's execution of the 2012 Recertification Update, and from their lawful residence at Eno Farms in previous years, it is reasonable to infer that they each knew the requirements for their own conduct and behavior upon the Eno Farms premises, and for the conduct and behavior of their guests utilizing the premises, as these requirements were a part of the terms of the lease that formed the basis for their occupancy of 1 Hitchcock Circle and were also a part of the Eno Farms Tenant Rules incorporated into and made a part of the lease.[9] It is further reasonable to infer that both Campbell and Crooms had agreed to comply with those rules and to abide by the terms of the lease during their occupancy at 1 Hitchcock Circle. (Exs. 4, 5, 11; Tes. Hoylst, Brittell, Campbell.)

         On December 13, 2012, Crooms was presented to the court after arrest on a warrant charging him with multiple offenses including Burglary and Theft of a Firearm alleged to have occurred on November 30, 2012. Finding probable cause for these and other charges, the court set bond at $100, 000. As Crooms made his home with his mother and lived with her at 1 Hitchcock Circle prior to being held in relation to these charges, it is reasonable to infer that Campbell knew that Crooms had been arrested, and was well familiar with the nature and extent of the inherently violent criminal conduct associated with the felony offenses with which Crooms was charged and for which probable cause was found. (Ex. 9; Tes. Crooms.)

         In March 2013, in preparation for renewal of the lease, Campbell met with the property manager Hoylst, completed and signed another Recertification Update: Campbell again indicated that she resided at the premises with Crooms and her grandchildren Destiny and Tyshawn. As both Campbell and Crooms executed the 2013 Recertification Update, it is again reasonable to infer that they each knew the requirements for their own conduct and behavior, and for the conduct and behavior of their guests utilizing the premises, that were a part of the Eno Farms Tenant Rules and also a part of the terms of the lease for 1 Hitchcock Circle; it is further reasonable to infer that both Campbell and Crooms had agreed to comply with those rules and to abide by the terms of the lease when they resided on the premises.[10] (Exs. 4, 5, 12; Tes. Campbell, Hoylst.)

         On April 30, 2013, Crooms pled guilty to two felony charges: one count of Burglary in the 3rd Degree and one count of Theft of a Firearm. On June 18, 2013, the court (Brunetti, J.) imposed concurrent sentences of 4 years suspended after 10 months with three years of probation for each felony conviction.[11] Crooms has also been convicted of possession of marijuana, for which he received a six months sentence. (Ex. 9; Tes. Crooms.)

         While incarcerated, Crooms did not live with Campbell. Crooms was discharged from incarceration either in the spring or summer of 2013. At some time in 2013, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) decided it would be better for Destiny and Tyshawn if Crooms moved out of 1 Hitchcock Circle and kept his own apartment. Crooms did not lose custody of the children until early 2014, however, when Campbell became their legal guardian. DCF permitted the transfer of guardianship upon the condition that Crooms reside at a place other than 1 Hitchcock Circle.[12] (Tes. Crooms, Campbell.)

         On April 8, 2015, when she was over the age of 62, Campbell alone filled out and signed a Recertification Update in preparation for renewal of her lease for 1 Hitchcock Circle.[13] Campbell expressly indicated, in on the Recertification Update form and in conversation that date with Hoylst, that her entire household consisted of herself, then 9-year old Destiny and then 6-year old Tyshawn. The 2015 form reaffirmed the conditions of Campbell's lease and the Tenant Rules which allowed 1 Hitchcock Circle to be the residence only of individuals identified on the Recertification Update document, clearly stated and reaffirming, : " No one else can join the household without prior management approval . . ." (Emphasis added.) (Ex. 6; Tes. Campbell, Hoylst.)

         On April 30, 2015, Hoylst and Campbell entered into a written lease permitting Campbell to reside at, use and occupy the premises from May 1, 2015 through April 30, 2016, in exchange for a number of clearly designated conditions including, but not limited to, the tenant's agreement that she would " be the sole occupant of . . . of the Unit. Occupancy by any other individuals . . . is a violation of the Lease thereby subjecting [Campbell] to eviction . . . If [Campbell] wishes to add a person to this Lease, Landlord must provide prior written permission through an amendment or addendum to this Lease." (Lease ¶ 9, Ex. 4.) In addition, Campbell agreed, as a condition of the lease for 1 Hitchcock Circle, to abide by all of the " rules and regulations applicable to the Unit and the Eno Farms Premises" (Lease ¶ 13, Ex. 4.) and to " obey and comply with the Tenant Rules . . . which are . . . made a part of this lease . . ." (Lease ¶ 36, Ex. 4; see Ex. 5.) Those Tenant Rules included, among other things: the obligation that " Tenant shall now allow anyone not included in Certification Recertification form to use his/her leased Premises when tenant is not on premises . . ." . . . " (Emphasis added.) (¶ 14 Tenant Rules, Ex. 5.); clear notification that Campbell would be " responsible for the actions of friends/relatives/visitors while they are on the Premises. Any violation of the Lease of these Rules by Tenant's friends/relatives/visitor while they are on the premises shall be considered a breach of the Lease by Tenant regardless of whether or not Tenant is on the Premises at the time of such violations" (Emphasis added.) (¶ 15 Tenant Rules, Ex. 5;) agreement that " Guests and visitors are expected to follow all Tenant Rules. A 'visit' of more than 14 days, consecutive or not) within any forty-five (45) day period constitutes unauthorized occupancy and is a violation of the Lease ." (Emphasis added.) (¶ 16 Tenant Rules, Ex. 5); understanding that " Any criminal offense under state . . . law committed by a Tenant or Tenant's guest(s) which impairs the physical and/or social environment and which occurs on or about the premises or on or about any location within the Premises shall be cause for Management to terminate Tenant's Lease." (Emphasis added.) (¶ 17 Tenant Rules, Ex. 5.) Moreover, and highly relevant to the parties' summary process litigation, the lease represents Campbell's understanding of her clear responsibility to ensure that any tenant of 101 Hitchcock Circle " shall not make or permit disturbing noises to be made by Tenant, Tenant's Family of Tenant's guests in the Unit or at the Eno Farms premises or permit anything to be done by such persons which is unlawful, improper or otherwise offensive to, other tenants in the Eno Farms community ." (Emphasis added.) (Lease ¶ 15, Ex. 4.)

         Multiple aspects of the highly credible testimonial evidence support the court's conclusion that after his 2013 discharge from incarceration, Crooms continued to exclusively live and reside at 1 Hitchcock Circle, just as he had made his home there with his mother Campbell during the years prior to his December 2012 arrest, as a lessee and designated resident. In more recent years in the spring and early summer of 2015 and on June 6, 2015, Crooms occupied that dwelling unit and resided there with his children. Crooms spent many, many hours each day at that dwelling unit each day, coming and going as he pleased, having actual possession of such premises as an occupant whom Campbell had willfully and intentionally caused, allowed or permitted to live there, or as Campbell's long term-guest whom she had willfully and intentionally invited to reside there, all without authorization from CHFA.[14] Crooms' residence at and occupancy of 1 Hitchcock Circle has been interrupted only by the incarceration related to the criminal charges described above. The car Crooms drives is parked at 1 Hitchcock Circle late every evening and is still parked there every morning; although Crooms drives away from 1 Hitchcock Circle from time to time, the car returned to that location within a relatively short period; the reasonable inference, unsullied by any reliable evidence to the contrary, is that because he resides at 1 Hitchcock Circle, both Crooms and the car he regularly drives are present at 1 Hitchcock Circle every single day. For years other than during his time in prison, Crooms was always at 1 Hitchcock Circle whenever any CHFA conducted any maintenance or repair work at the dwelling unit. Continuing into late spring and early summer 2015, Crooms was predictably observed leaving 1 Hitchcock Circle very early almost every morning, being present in the afternoon, sometimes leaving in the evening, but returning to that dwelling unit seven days a week and on a continuous basis; that pattern continued both before and after the events of June 6, 2015, after the sending of the pretermination letter, and after service of the notice to quit referenced below; and that pattern of residence at, use and possession of 1 Hitchcock Circle, whether as an unauthorized occupant or as a very long-term guest, continued through the time of trial.[15] (Exs. 2, 6; K. Riddick, K. Williams, C. Riddick, Brittell, Hoylst, Hebert, Crooms, Campbell.)

         The evidence as a whole supports the finding that Campbell wilfully, intentionally and knowingly invited, allowed and permitted Crooms to possess, use, occupy and control 1 Hitchcock Circle, the home in which he had grown up and in which his children Destiny and Tyshawn were being raised. The court received no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Campbell had ever restricted or limited Crooms' use, occupancy, possession or control of 1 Hitchcock Circle or of the common, public areas surrounding that dwelling unit; to the contrary, whether or not Crooms had keys to the premises, whether he helped pay rent due, or whether he physically or financially improved the dwelling unit in any way, Crooms' residence at and occupancy, use, possession and functional control of 1 Hitchcock Circle in 2015 and through the time of trial was fully established by the fact that he had complete and unfettered access to the dwelling unit even when Campbell was not physically present, notwithstanding Tenant Rule ¶ 14, referenced above, of which both Crooms and Campbell were aware.[16] (Exs. 2, 4, 5, 6; K. Riddick, K. Williams, C. Riddick, Brittell, Hoylst, Hebert, Crooms, Campbell.)

         In 2015, Campbell's status as a non-working, retired pensioner supports the inference that she could have made herself available to supervise Destiny and Tyshawn at Eno Farms, to bring them to the bus stop or to retrieve them from school. This fact diminishes any value of the evidence offered by Campbell and Crooms in an unsuccessful effort to establish that Crooms spent so many hours of the day at 1 Hitchcock Circle there as a child care provider. In the spring and early summer of 2015, the evidence support the further inference that Crooms spent long periods of time at 1 Hitchcock Circle not because he was visiting his children, but because with Campbell's willing and intentional agreement, he maintained actual possession of, used and resided the dwelling unit either as an occupant or a very long-term guest unauthorized by CHFA. Crooms made his nearly constant presence at 1 Hitchcock Circle openly notorious and visible to his neighbors, without interruption and throughout the course of trial. (Exs. 2, 6; K. Riddick, K. Williams, C. Riddick, Brittell, Hoylst, Hebert, Crooms.)

         In concluding that the evidence as a whole supports the finding that, following Crooms' discharge from incarceration after serving his sentence for convictions for Burglary in the 3rd degree and Theft of a Firearm, Campbell intentionally, knowingly and voluntarily allowed Crooms to return to 1 Hitchcock Circle and to resume making that dwelling unit his actual residence, Campbell elected to withhold that fact from CHFA, and without ever informing the landlord of Crooms' resumed use, occupancy, possession and control of the premises. While Campbell admitted that she did not put Crooms' name on the 2014 Recertification Update form, just as she had omitted his name from the 2015 Recertification Update form, the court does not credit her claim that she did not notify the landlord of Crooms' presence because she, alone, had become the guardian for Destiny and Tyshawn.[17] There is no evidence from which the court could reasonably conclude that Crooms spent time at 1 Hitchcock Circle without Campbell's permission; to the contrary, the totality of the evidence supports the conclusion that, as previously discussed, Campbell wilfully, knowingly and intentionally, caused, allowed or permitted Crooms to have full reign of the premises. As a party to the Eno Farms lease and subject to the Tenant Rules, whether Crooms was present at 1 Hitchcock Circle as a de facto tenant or as a guest, the lessee Campbell was still charged with the responsibility for ensuring that Crooms complied with ¶ ¶ 13, 15, and 36 of the lease and ¶ ¶ 15 and ¶ 17 of the Tenant Rules, and was subject to the consequences if Crooms engaged in offensive or unlawful conduct or other behavior proscribed by the lease or the Tenant Rules. (Exs. 4, 5; Tes. Campbell, K. Riddick, K. Williams, C. Riddick, Brittell, Hebert, Hoylst.)

         On June 6, 2015, with her mother Kiyanah Williams, her father Carlton Riddick and her younger brother CJ Riddick, adolescent Kadashia Riddick had resided in the dwelling unit at 2 Hitchcock Circle in Eno Farms having moved there in May 2015 from another dwelling unit the Tuller Complex area of Eno Farms. 2 Hitchcock Circle is located directly across the way from, nearly adjacent to, and has a clear view of the dwelling unit at 1 Hitchcock Circle. (Tes. K. Williams, K. Riddick, Hoylst.)

         Prior to June 6, 2015, Crooms had been friendly with Carlton Riddick; they had known each other since middle school and the families had regular interaction before Kiyana Williams, Carlton Riddick and their children moved to 2 Hitchcock Circle. Crooms was a guest at 2 Hitchcock Circle on the night of June 5 and into the early morning hours of June 6, 2015. (Tes. K. Williams, C. Riddick, K. Riddick.)

         Prior to June 6, 2015, Kadashia and CJ had often played peacefully with Crooms' daughter Destiny, although Destiny was sometimes aggressive. (Tes. K. Williams.) On the afternoon of June 6, 2015, as friends, 12 old Kadashia, CJ, Tyshawn, 9 year old Destiny and other children all engaged in a game of tag in a common area outside 1 Hitchcock and 2 Hitchcock Circle.[18] Tyshawn became aggressive toward CJ, scratching and hitting CJ in the face and on his stomach area. The aggressive conduct ceased when Christina Cocchi, the mother of Tyshawn and Destiny, emerged from 1 Hitchcock Circle and intervened. However, when Cocchi left the area, Tyshawn again began acting in an aggressive manner toward Destiny and another child. Crooms then emerged from 1 Hitchcock Circle, directed vulgar and offensive utterances at some of the children and appeared to be very angry.[19] Crooms then, recklessly and/or with the intention of causing injury to Kadashia, shoved the adolescent and stepped on her foot although no injury resulted. Kadashia ran to 2 Hitchcock Circle and reported the events to her father. When Carlton Riddick approached the area where the children were located, Crooms angrily declared that he was going to protect his son. Then, recklessly and/or with the intention of causing him injury, Crooms swung at, tackled and assaulted Carlton Riddick, hitting Carlton Riddick squarely in the face, and pushing him with such force that Riddick fell to the ground, sustaining injury to his shoulder as a result of Crooms's conduct. Kiyanah Williams, who had come to the common area, observed Crooms hit Carlton Riddick in the face, and saw Crooms step on Kadashia's foot. Kiyanah Williams further observed Crooms place one hand in a position to simulate holding a handgun, pointing it toward Carlton Riddick, and observed Crooms place his other hand in a position to mimic firing the virtual handgun in the direction of Carlton Riddick; whether reckless or intentional, this aspect of Crooms' physical display of future action further disturbed the neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of the premises.[20] Multiple aspects of Crooms's conduct, as described above, both impaired the social environment on the premises, disturbed the neighbor's peaceful enjoyment of the premises and, furthermore, are sufficient to meet, by a fair preponderance of the evidence the elements of numerous criminal offenses under our state law.[21] Campbell was not present during any aspect of Crooms' infliction of bodily harm upon Carlton Riddick or Crooms' other aggressive, assaultive and/or threatening conduct on this occasion. (¶ 17 Tenant Rules, Ex. 5; Tes. K. Riddick, K. Williams, C. Riddick.)

         Simsbury police arrived at the scene. Responding officer Trevor Brittell, who had known Crooms since high school and who had always known Crooms to live at 1 Hitchcock Circle, found that Crooms was present within that dwelling unit but would not voluntarily come out to speak to the police. When, after ten to fifteen minutes, Crooms emerged from the back door of his home at 1 Hitchcock Circle, Brittell took him into custody. Brittell had concluded at the scene on June 6, 2015 that he had probable cause to arrest Crooms for assault, and that he could have arrested Crooms even though the victim declined to press charges. However, as Carlton Riddick then did not want Crooms to be prosecuted, no arrest was made on that day.[22] Riddick declined transport to a hospital, indicating that he would obtain medical attention for his shoulder at a walk-in clinic. (Ex. 2; Tes. Brittell, Carlton Riddick.)

         At some time after June 6, 2015, Kiyanah Williams informed Hoylst about the disturbing events that had occurred outside near 1 and 2 Hitchcock Circle, and gave Hoylst a copy of the Simsbury police department report detailing Crooms' presence on the premises and conduct on that date. Hoylst reviewed the report, and concluded that Crooms lived at 1 Hitchcock Circle and was still a member of Campbell's household even though Campbell had not identified him as a resident on the April 2015 Recertification Update form.[23] Upon consultation with the Eno Farms maintenance supervisor, Hoylst confirmed that Crooms was residing at 1 Hitchcock Circle without authorization on June 6, 2015 when he engaged in the unlawful conduct described above. Hoylst specifically concluded that Crooms' unauthorized occupancy of 1 Hitchcock Circle, his infliction of bodily harm upon other tenants, his subjecting another tenant to conduct that presented an immediate and serious danger to the safety of other tenants on June 6, 2015, and his assaultive physical and offensive verbal conduct that had substantially interfered with the comfort or safety of Kadaisha and Carlton Riddick, other tenants of Eno Farms who resided in nearby dwelling units, separately or alone constituted violations of the lease for 1 Hitchcock Circle, the Tenant Rules and, by way of his defacto tenancy, General Statutes § 47a-11(g).[24] Hoylst accordingly directed the Eno Farms attorney to issue a pre-termination notice to address these violations and to provide Campbell the statutory opportunity to remedy the conditions and maintain access to the dwelling unit.[25](Exs. 2, 6; Tes. Hoylst.)

         After service of the pre-termination notice on June 19, 2015 but before instructing the Eno Farms attorney to issue a notice to quit for both adult residents of 1 Hitchcock Circle, Hoylst had some communication with Campbell about the fact that Crooms was occupying and residing at that dwelling unit without CHFA's authorization. Hoylst informed Campbell that she should require the unauthorized person to leave the premises. In response to Campbell's inquiry, she also described the type of document that could establish that Crooms did not live at 1 Hitchcock Circle, such as a valid lease or a utility bill for service to Crooms at another address. Notwithstanding Hoylst's delivery of this information, and notwithstanding the express content of the pretermination letter, neither Campbell nor Crooms ever provided Hoylst with a notarized copy of a lease or a utility bill indicating that Crooms actually resided at any place other than 1 Hitchcock Circle.[26](Tes. Hoylst.)

         Hoylst then directed the Eno Farms attorney to issue notices to quit for both Campbell and Crooms; these were served by a state marshal at 1 Hitchcock Circle on July 10, 2015.[27] Hoylst next directed the Eno Farms attorney to issue the summary process complaint and attendant documents, which were served by a state marshal upon both Campbell and Crooms at 1 Hitchcock Circle on July 19, 2015. (Tes. Hoylst.)

         Crooms' conduct on June 6, 2015 has measurably interfered with Kadashia Riddick's, Kiyanah Williams's, and Carlton Riddick's peaceable enjoyment of living in their dwelling unit at Eno Farms; they have been caused to feel unsafe due to Crooms' angry, verbally and physically assaultive and/or threatening conduct in their neighborhood on that date. (Tes. K. Riddick, K. Williams, C. Riddick, Hoylst.)

         In finding that Crooms occupied and was a de facto tenant, lived at 1 Hitchcock Circle on June 6, 2015 and at all times relevant to these proceedings, the court has found no basis for crediting any evidence offered by Campbell in an effort to establish that she complied with CHFA's request for documentation to establish that Crooms actually lived at a place other than 1 Hitchcock Circle.[28] A photocopy of an envelope introduced in evidence, addressed to CHFA's office at " 931 West Main Street, New Britain, CT 06053" and postmarked July 16, 2015 proves only dispatched of the envelope to that address which followed by almost a month the June 18, 2015 delivery of the pretermination letter to Campbell, and also followed the July 10, 2015 service of the notice to quit upon both Campbell and Crooms. (Ex. 7; Tes. Hoylst.) In the absence of details or clear explanation of the contents, although Campbell apparently kept a copy of the envelope, the court does not credit any evidence offered to support her claim that she used the envelope to send the landlord valid, adequate documentation of Crooms' alternate residence. Even if she had done so, this information would have been insufficient to counter the highly reliable evidence establishing that Campbell permitted Crooms to make his home, and that Crooms in fact made his home, at 1 Hitchcock Circle in June 2015 and on the day in question and at all times other than when he was incarcerated, all in violation of the 2015 lease and in violation of the Tenant Rules for Eno Farm. (Exs. 2, 4, 5, 9; Tes. K. Riddick, C. Riddick, K. Williams, Brittell, Hebert, Hoylst.)

         Furthermore, the court does not credit any of the evidence, either testimonial or documentary, tendered in an effort to establish that at times relevant to the complaint, Crooms maintained his own legal residence separate and apart from that he occupies with his mother at 1 Hitchcock Circle as required by ¶ ¶ 19 and 23 of the lease ¶ 16 of the Tenant Rules. (Exs. 4, 5.) The court attributes no weight to a handwritten document proffered to show that Crooms lives at 26 King Street in Hartford, CT. This document, ostensibly signed by one " Pauline Case . . . Landlord" on July 14, 2015, presents no details as to the term of any rental agreement or the nature of the " apt" that Case is supposed to have " rented out" to Crooms. (Ex. 7.) This handwritten note does not disclose the amount of rent or even whether rent is due monthly, weekly, or daily, or provide reliable or credible evidence either that Crooms actually rented a dwelling unit at that address or the circumstances under which he obtained such privilege. (Ex. 7.) Even taken together with this document, unsupported by sufficient detail or corroboration other than from his mother, Crooms' testimony that he kept belongings and a toothbrush at 26 King Street in Hartford, or that the location was visited both by his DCF case worker and the probation officer assigned to supervise him after his felony convictions, is inadequate to support a finding Crooms resided at any place other than 1 Hitchcock Circle.[29] Similarly, the envelope proffered in evidence, ostensibly sent by DCF social worker Lydia Verdura to Crooms at 26 King Street, 2nd Floor in Hartford, is insufficient to establish that Crooms actually lived at that address; in fact, Crooms' own testimony establishes that Verdura only investigated whether he lived outside 1 Hitchcock Circle before Destiny's and Tyshawn's 2014 transfer of guardianship to Campbell. In its entirety, even if Crooms did rent an apartment at 26 King Street in Hartford, CT, and even if he did receive mail at that location, there is insufficient evidence to establish that he actually resided at, occupied or used that place as anything other than a drop off location.[30](Ex. 7; Tes. Crooms.) Instead, as a whole, the highly reliable, credible evidence establishes, as previously found, that with Campbell's knowledge and willing agreement, Crooms used, occupied, controlled, possessed and resided at 1 Hitchcock Circle with Destiny and Tyshawn before June 6, 2015, on that date, and through the time of trial.

         For equitable purposes, the court acknowledges and has considered that Campbell is over the age of 62, and that she has maintained a leasehold at 1 Hitchcock Circle for many years, often with her sons named as lessees.[31] As previously found, Campbell provided a home there for her own sons when they were growing up, and she has now wilfully and intentionally kept her household open to Crooms and his children.[32] Also for equitable purposes, the court acknowledges and has considered that Campbell is responsible for paying $1, 063 each month for her tenancy and occupancy of 1 Hitchcock Circle; that Campbell has paid neither rent nor use and occupancy to the landlord since July 6, 2015; and that Campbell, her grandchildren and Crooms have had, for many months, full use and occupancy of the dwelling unit without paying any compensation therefore. While Campbell and Crooms have remained in residence at the dwelling unit despite the notice to quit, CHFA has not had possession of 1 Hitchcock Circle and thereby has been denied the opportunity to lease it to a paying tenant or occupant, all to the detriment of the landlord. (Ex. 8; Tes. Hoylst, Campbell, K. Riddick, C. Riddick, K. Williams.)

         II

         CAMPBELL'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         Campbell has moved to dismiss all summary process claims brought against her by CHFA claiming the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. In her November 19, 2015 Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Campbell argues that " all eight counts of the complaint should be dismissed with prejudice because [CHFA] has deprived the Court of subject matter jurisdiction over the action by its failure to notify Defendant Campbell of her 'statutorily guaranteed right to rectify the alleged violation within the allowable time period.'" [33]

         " 'A motion to dismiss . . . properly attacks the jurisdiction of the court, essentially asserting that the plaintiff cannot as a matter of law and fact state a cause of action that should be heard by the court . . . A motion to dismiss tests, inter alia, whether, on the face of the record, the court is without jurisdiction . . .' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Caruso v. Bridgeport, 285 Conn. 618, 627, 941 A.2d 266 (2008); see also South Sea Co. v. Global Turbine Component Technologies, LLC, 95 Conn.App. 742, 744, 899 A.2d 642 (2006)." (Emphasis added.) Housing Authority v. DeRoche, 112 Conn.App. 355, 362, 962 A.2d 904 (2009). See also St. Paul's Flax Hill Cooperative v. Johnson, 124 Conn.App. 728, 734, 6 A.3d 1168 (2010), cert. denied, 300 Conn. 906, 12 A.3d 1002 (2011). Applying this standard to the record in this case, the court finds all relevant aspects of motion to dismiss in favor of CHFA.[34]

         As Campbell aptly observes, a pretermination " notice must be sufficient to apprise the tenant of the information the tenant needs to protect herself against premature, discriminatory or arbitrary eviction . . . To further this salutary purpose, the notice requirements of § 47a-15 must be construed strictly." (Citations and quotation marks omitted. Housing Authority v. Harris, 225 Conn. 600, 605, 625 A.2d 816 (1993) (pre-termination notice is required for summary process action not based on facts alleging serious nuisance), referencing Jefferson Garden Associates v. Greene, 202 Conn. 128, 143-44, 520 A.2d 173 (1987). See also St. Paul's Flax Hill Co-operative v. Johnson, 124 Conn.App. 728, 734-35, 6 A.3d 1168. Campbell's reliance upon Housing Authority v. Harris, however, falls short of recognizing the more current principles established by Housing Authority v. Deleon, 79 Conn.App. 300, 303-04, 830 A.2d 298 (2003), which the court must also consider when addressing the present motion to dismiss. Housing Authority v. Deleon acknowledged that " [i]n Housing Authority v. Harris, 28 Conn.App. 684, 691, 611 A.2d 934 (1992), aff'd, 225 Conn. 600, 625 A.2d 816 (1993), this court held that the failure to require others to conduct themselves in a manner that does not constitute a serious nuisance is not itself a serious nuisance." Id., 305. Ten years later, and following certain legislative actions related to summary process cases involving drug transactions not alleged in the present case, the Appellate Court revised its analysis of factual circumstances sufficient to implicate a tenant's susceptibility to summary process where the tenant's guest, but not the tenant, had engaged in conduct constituting serious nuisance as contemplated by § 47a-15: " Having construed the legislative intent from that analysis and from the language and legislative history of the statutes, we conclude that the court's interpretation of § § 47a-11(g) and 47a-15 should not have been restricted to the actions of the defendant and should have taken into account the actions of the defendant's guests ." (Emphasis added.) Id., 306. Thus, Housing Authority v. Deleon reversed the trial court's finding in favor of the tenant who had failed to require other persons on the premises with consent to conduct themselves in a manner that did not constitute a serious nuisance, as defined in § 47a-15, and remanded the case for a new trial. Id.

         Incorporating the more current Housing Authority v. Deleon analysis into this case, the court concludes that CHFA's pretermination letter, present in the record, is highly specific and precise in identifying both the nature and extent of Campbell's violations of the lease terms and the Tenant Rules affecting her status at 1 Hitchcock Circle. Through clear statements, the pretermination letter sufficiently provides Campbell with notice of the violations of the lease provisions and Tenant Rules with which CHFA alleged she had " materially failed to comply." (Ex. 1, Complaint.) The pre-termination letter informed Campbell that through her conduct in allowing Crooms, an individual not identified in the lease, to be an occupant of the dwelling unit, she had violated ¶ ¶ 9 and 19 of the lease; that by allowing Crooms to conduct himself in a manner involving criminal activity on the premises, on June 6, 2015, she had violated ¶ 15 of the lease; that by allowing Crooms, an unauthorized occupant of I Hitchcock Circle, to conduct himself in a manner involving criminal activity on the premises on June 6, 2015, she had violated ¶ ¶ 15, 17, 20(F) and 20(G) of the Tenant Rules; that by allowing Crooms, a member of her household and/or guest who was on the premises with her consent, to conduct himself in a manner involving criminal activity on the premises on June 6, 2015, and in not requiring Crooms who was on the premises with her consent to conduct himself in a manner that would not disturb the neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of Eno Farms rendered herself susceptible to eviction by violating § 47a-11(g); [35] that Campbell had further violated § 47a-11(g), rendering her susceptible to eviction, by not requiring Crooms, who was on the premises with her consent, to conduct himself in a manner that would not constitute a nuisance as defined by § 47a-32; [36] that Campbell again had violated § 47a-11(g), rendering her susceptible to eviction, by not requiring Crooms, who was on the premises with her consent, to conduct himself in a manner that would not constitute a serious nuisance as defined by § 47a-15(2)(A); [37] and that Campbell had violated § 47a-11(g), again rendering her susceptible to eviction, by not requiring Crooms, who was on the premises with her consent, to conduct himself in a manner that would not constitute a serious nuisance as defined by § 47a-15(2)(C).[38] (Ex. 1, Complaint ¶ ¶ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.)

         Each of these allegations make it unequivocally and unambiguously clear that Campbell's violations of the lease terms and the Tenant Rules were directly related to her conduct in not requiring Crooms to conduct himself in a lawful manner, and in allowing Crooms to remain in occupancy upon the property with her consent. CHFA's recital of these violations make it perfectly apparent that Campbell easily could cure the conditions complained of if she took action, within 15 days, to remove Crooms from 1 Hitchcock Circle. This, however, Campbell would not do; she would not remedy the noted violations because removing Crooms from the premises would require an admission, on her part, that Crooms actually resided at, used, occupied, possessed and/or had control of the dwelling unit. As indicated in her July 2015 special defenses, in her October 2015 special defenses, and in her trial testimony, Campbell steadfastly has refused to admit that on June 6, 2015 Crooms was an occupant of 1 Hitchcock Circle. From her conduct, the court reasonably and logically infers that instead of curing the lease and Tenant Rule violations alleged by CHFA by taking affirmative action to remove Crooms from her dwelling unit, Campbell elected to take the position that Crooms was not an occupant because she stood to lose guardianship of Destiny and Tyshawn if she admitted that Crooms lived in the same household as the children. (Ex. 6; Tes. Crooms, Campbell, Hoylst.) While Campbell chose to take this position, the pretermination notice is not rendered in any way deficient because it does not expressly state that removal of Crooms from the premises will cure the violations. That remedy, and that cure, would reasonably be identified as a fair and practical response to the violations of the lease terms and Tenant Rules alleged by CHFA.[39] (Ex. 1, Complaint.)

         In considering the sufficiency of the pretermination notice for purposes of addressing the motion to dismiss, the court incorporates and relies upon the facts as found in Part I in their entirety, including but not limited to the communications with Hoylst regarding how Campbell could remedy the cited violations by establishing that Crooms did not occupy or reside at 1 Hitchcock Circle without authorization; this evidence supports the conclusion that Campbell knew she could cure the violations through showing that Crooms actually occupied another home and maintained a residence, not merely an address, at a location other than 1 Hitchcock Circle. The fact that Hoylst and Campbell communicated regarding these subjects further supports the conclusion that the pre-termination notice adequately informed Campbell of the specific lease and Tenant Rule violations at issue, and that Campbell knew, in a timely manner, that she could remedy the violations by effectuating Crooms's permanent departure from Hitchcock Circle, the dwelling unit he occupied, used, resided at controlled and possessed with Campbell's knowledge and approval, notwithstanding his criminal convictions for Burglary in the 3rd degree and Theft of a firearm, offenses inherently related to violence. Further evidence that CHFA provided the opportunity for timely cure of its cited lease and Tenant Rules violations is found in Campbell's attempts after receipt of the pre-termination letter, albeit unsuccessful, not only to learn how to demonstrate that Crooms did not live at her dwelling unit, but also to engage in efforts to prove that she was the sole occupant of 1 Hitchcock Circle through sending Hoylst an letter with insufficiently specified contents.[40] (Ex. 7; Tes. Campbell, Hoylst.)

         Thus, despite the vigor of the arguments presented in the motion to dismiss, the court finds that the pre-termination notice provided not only legally sufficient but fully effective information as to how and when Campbell could remedy CHFA's cited lease and Tenant Rule violations; these violations could be remedied if Campbell chose to acknowledge that Crooms made his functional home at 1 Hitchcock Circle and chose to affirmatively remove the unauthorized occupant or long-term guest from the dwelling unit and the premises. However, Campbell eschewed the clear opportunity to maintain her lease and to provide a home for Destiny and Tyshawn at Eno Farms; instead, she chose to allow, permit and enable Crooms to continue to make her home his home, to the detriment of to her continued lawful access to 1 Hitchcock Circle.

         Under these circumstances, strictly construing § 47a-15, the court concludes that the pretermination letter provided Campbell with a clearly identifiable method of curing the violations, was effective in practice and was legally " sufficient to apprise the tenant of the information the tenant 'needs to protect herself against premature discriminatory action.'" Housing Authority v. Harris, supra, 225 Conn. 605. Accordingly, Campbell's November 19, 2015 Motion to Dismiss must be denied.

         II

         ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

         In this civil case, where CHFA's complaint sets forth separate counts presenting " alternative theories of recovery, " the plaintiff may prevail if the burden of proof has been met on one count, alone.[41] For the reasons set forth herein, the court finds CHFA to have met its burden of proof on each related claim, and therefore finds the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Counts as alleged in favor of the plaintiff CHFA and against Campbell; and the court finds the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Counts in favor of CHFA and against Crooms.[42] In reaching these conclusions, the court has relied upon the facts as found in Part I of this decision, as relevant to each particular count. The court has further incorporated and relied upon the admissions of specific allegations presented through Campbell's October 13, 2015 Amended Answer, and the defendant's of other allegations.

         A

         FIRST COUNT

         In the First Count, sounding against Campbell alone, CHFA alleges: that on or before May 1, 2015, it had entered into a one year lease with Campbell permitting her rental of 1 Hitchcock Circle; that Campbell took possession of the premises under the lease; that Campbell violated ¶ 9 and ¶ 19 of the lease by allowing Crooms to occupy the premises without CHFA's prior written approval; that CHFA delivered written notice to Campbell of these violations on June 18, 2015; that CHFA caused Campbell to be served with a notice to quit on July 10, 2015 requiring her to vacate the premises on or before July 14, 2015 because of the violations relevant to this count; and that Campbell has remained in possession nonetheless and thereafter. In her answer to the First Count, Campbell denies that she allowed an individual not named in the lease, specifically Crooms, to occupy the premises, and that she and her two minor grandchildren, all named in the lease, were the sole occupants of 1 Hitchcock Circle at the times relevant to this aspect of the complaint, but admits the remainder of the allegations. Incorporating and relying upon the facts as found in Part I and applying the relevant principles of law, the court finds that CHFA has met its burden of proof on all essential elements of this First Count as to Campbell.

         In sum, as found in Part I, a fair preponderance of the evidence establishes that on June 6, 2015 and at all times relevant to this summary process litigation, Campbell had wilfully and intentionally invited, caused, allowed and/or permitted Crooms, an individual not named in the lease, to occupy 1 Hitchcock Circle without the landlord's written approval, in violation of the above-referenced provisions of the lease as alleged in the First Count.[43] The court has specifically found that, with the permission of Campbell and without restriction or limitation, Crooms used, resided at, maintained possession of and control over this dwelling unit at all times when he was not incarcerated, and that even though she was not present on that date, Campbell wilfully and intentionally allowed and permitted him to use, reside at, maintain possession of and control over 1 Hitchcock Circle on June 6, 2015 when Crooms' assaults on Kadaisha Riddick and Carlton Riddick took place at Eno Farms. The court has carefully considered, but has attributed no weight to, any contrary evidence proffered by Campbell or Crooms through direct or cross-examination or witnesses, or through documentary exhibits in an effort to establish that Crooms did not occupy Campbell's dwelling unit as alleged, but that he resided elsewhere. The better, weightier, more credible and reliable evidence, as found in Part I, supports the finding that Crooms exclusively made his home at 1 Hitchcock Circle with his mother Campbell, and with his children Destiny and Tyshawn, on June 6, 2015 and at all times other when he was imprisoned. That same evidence supports the conclusion that Campbell did not secure permission, in writing or otherwise, from CHFA to support Crooms's occupancy as required under ¶ ¶ 9, 19 and other provisions of the lease and the Tenant Rules. Thus, CHFA has met its burden of proof on this First Count as alleged.

         As found in Part IV, Campbell has not met her burden of proof on any of her special defenses. Having considered facts, the relevant principles of law, and any applicable equities, for the reasons set forth above, the court accordingly finds the First Count in favor of the plaintiff CHFA and against the defendant Campbell.

         B

         SECOND COUNT

         In the Second Count, sounding against Campbell alone, CHFA alleges: that on or before May 1, 2015, it had entered into a one year lease with Campbell permitting her rental of 1 Hitchcock Circle; that Campbell took possession of the premises under the lease; that Campbell " allowed a member of her household and/or guest to conduct himself in a manner involving criminal activity on the premises . . ." which conduct disturbed the neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of the premises, interfered substantially with the comfort or safety of other tenants, and which conduct consisted of inflicting bodily harm upon another tenant or threatening to inflict such harm with the present ability to cause the harm, all under circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that such threat would be carried out and presenting an immediate and serious danger to the safety of other tenants; that Campbell's conduct in allowing Crooms engage in his criminal defenses, as described in Part I, when she was responsible for his conduct pursuant to the terms of her rental agreement with CHFA, violated ¶ 15 of the lease and also violated ¶ ¶ 15, 17, 20(F) and 20(G) of the Tenant Rules incorporated into that lease; that CHFA delivered written notice to Campbell of these violations on June 18, 2015; that CHFA caused Campbell to be served with a notice to quit on July 10, 2015 requiring her to vacate the premises on or before July 14, 2015 because of the violations relevant to the allegations of this count; and that Campbell has remained in possession nonetheless and through the time of trial. In her answer to the Second Count, Campbell denies CHFA's allegations regarding Crooms' involvement in criminal activity on the premises; specifically denies that she allowed a member of her household to conduct himself in a manner involving criminal activity on the premises; and further denies that she has violated any section of the lease or the Tenant Rules; but admits the remainder of the allegations. Incorporating and relying upon the facts as found in Part I and applying the relevant principles of law, the court finds that CHFA has met its burden of proof on all essential elements of this Second Count as to Campbell.

         Among other things, the evidence in its entirety, as found in Part I, establishes that on June 15, 2015 Crooms was a member of Campbell's household, and that he occupied, resided at, possessed and maintained control of 1 Hitchcock Circle in response to his mother's intentional and wilful invitation, permission and/or causal intervention. ¶ 9 of Campbell's lease placed her on notice that occupancy of 1 Hitchcock Circle by Crooms, without CHFA's prior written permission, would be a violation subjecting her to eviction. ¶ 13 of the lease placed Campbell on notice that she was required her to adhere to the Tenant Rules. ¶ 15 of the lease placed her on notice that she required take affirmative action to limit and restrict the conduct of persons, such as Crooms, upon the premises with her permission, and that she had to take affirmative action because she could not permit anything to be done by her family or guests at 1 Hitchcock Circle, including Crooms, " which is unlawful, improper or otherwise offensive to, other tenants in the Eno Farms community" or eviction would result. (Ex. 4.) ¶ 14 of the Tenant Rules clearly and unequivocally required Campbell to not allow an uncertified person, such as Crooms, to use 1 Hitchcock Circle when Campbell was not on the premises, a rule Campbell regularly breached when she left Crooms alone at the dwelling unit and when, significant to the present litigation, having allowed him to occupy 1 Hitchcock Circle without CHFA's written permission and without having taken affirmative action to limit and restrict Crooms' conduct, he engaged in the unlawful, improper and otherwise offensive actions on June 6, 2015 as fully described in Part I. In addition, ¶ 17 of the Tenant Rules placed Campbell on notice that if a de facto tenant, such as Crooms, or an individual on the premises in the capacity as a guest, does anything that impairs the social environment and which occurs on the premises of Eno Farms shall be cause for CHFA to terminate her lease. Having found that Crooms was a de facto tenant of 1 Hitchcock Circle on June 6, 2015, and having found that he engaged in fighting, causing a disturbance on the premises, and that he engaged in improper behavior such as using abusive or threatening language and actions, described in Part I, Crooms' conduct gave CHFA an opportunity, as designated under the lease, to terminate Campbell's privilege to occupy the premises pursuant to Tenant Rule 20 (F) and (G). Moreover, ¶ 15 of the Tenant Rules made Campbell directly responsible for the actions of Crooms while he was on the Eno Farms premises. Therefore, pursuant to the Tenant Rules, Campbell is responsible for all ...


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