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Brander v. Stoddard

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

June 6, 2017

BERT BRANDER
v.
TRISHA STODDARD, TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATOR ESTATE OF LILY B. FREY, ET AL. [*]

          Argued April 18, 2017

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Litchfield, Marano, J.

          Patrick E. Power, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          John L. Laudati, with whom, on the brief, were P. Jo Anne Burgh and Casey Walker, pro hac vice, for the appellees (defendants).

          Keller, Prescott and Beach, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         In this action seeking to quiet title to a parcel of property located along the Farmington River in New Hartford, the plaintiff, Bert Brander, appeals from the judgment of the trial court finding in favor of the defendants, Trisha Stoddard, in her capacity as the temporary administrator for the estate of Lily B. Frey, and the Farmington River Watershed Association, Inc., on both counts of the operative complaint.[1] The plaintiff, who began using the disputed parcel in 1984 to graze sheep and grow hay, alleged that he acquired title through adverse possession or, in the alternative, had a prescriptive easement for its use. In response, the defendants argued that, for certain periods of time, the plaintiff's use of the property had been with the permission or implied consent of the owners. The matter was tried to the court, Marano, J., over two days in February, 2015. On August 6, 2015, the court issued a memorandum of decision finding in favor of the defendants.

         The plaintiff claims on appeal that the court improperly concluded that his use of the disputed property from 1984 to 1995 was not under a claim of right but, rather, was with the permission of the record owners at the time, Henry Frey and Lily Frey. The plaintiff also claims that the court improperly concluded that his use of the property from 2004 to 2006 was not under a claim of right, but was with the permission of the record owner, Lily Frey.

         Having examined the record on appeal and having considered the briefs and the arguments of the parties, we conclude that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. Further, because the court thoroughly addressed in its memorandum of decision all of the arguments raised by the parties on appeal, we adopt that well reasoned decision as a proper statement of both the facts and the applicable law at issue. See Brander v. Stoddard, 173 Conn.App., A.3d (2015) (appendix). Any further discussion by this court would serve no useful purpose. See, e.g., Woodruff v. Hemingway, 297 Conn. 317, 321, 2 A.3d 857 (2010).

         The judgment is affirmed.

         APPENDIX

         Superior Court, Judicial District of Litchfield File No. CV-13-6008351-S

         Memorandum filed August 6, 2015

         Proceedings

         Memorandum of decision in action to quiet title. Judgment for the defendants.

         Patrick E. Power, for the plaintiff.

         John L. Laudati, for the defendants.

         Casey Walker, pro hac vice, for the named defendant et al.

         OPINION

          MARANO, J.

         The plaintiff, Bert Brander, brings this cause of action against the defendants, Trisha Stoddard, in her capacities as Connecticut temporary administrator of the estate of Lily Frey and Florida personal representative of the estate of Lily Frey, and the Farmington River Watershed Association, Inc. In his two count complaint, filed with the court on March 25, 2013, the plaintiff seeks to quiet title to property located at 65 Farmington River Turnpike, New Hartford, Connecticut (disputed property), based on claims of adverse possession and prescriptive easement. The defendants filed an answer on June 21, 2013, and an amended answer and special defenses on February 13, 2015, alleging that the plaintiff's use of the property was with the permission of the owners. The matter was tried to the court on February 10 and 11, 2015. The parties filed posttrial briefs on May 4, 2015.

         PARTIES' POSITIONS

         Plaintiff's Position

         The plaintiff argues that he acquired the entire disputed property through adverse possession pursuant to General Statutes § 52-575. In support of this argument, the plaintiff alleges that from 1984 to the present he has used the disputed property to graze his sheep and to grow hay. While conceding that the titleholders to the property erected a fence between the plaintiff's property and the disputed property in 1993, he alleges that within a year he removed the fence and resumed use of the property for grazing sheep and growing hay. He further argues that any other use of the land by the titleholders was insufficient to overcome his possession of the property. He also argues that any initial permission that was granted by the titleholders to the plaintiff to use the disputed property for grazing and haying was revoked in 1993 when they erected a fence and he continued to use the property for grazing and haying from 1993 to the present, a period in excess of the fifteen years mandated by § 52-575.

         In the alternative, the plaintiff argues that he has acquired a prescriptive easement over the disputed property to graze sheep and grow hay. He argues that the only difference in proof between a claim of adverse possession and a claim of prescriptive easement is that with a prescriptive easement possession need not be exclusive. Therefore, he argues that, for the same reasons that he has satisfied the elements of adverse possession, if the court were to find that his use of the property was not exclusive, he would still satisfy the elements of a prescriptive easement. He further argues that such aprescriptive easement wouldbe an easement appurtenant because use of the disputed property for grazing and haying benefits the dominant estate, the adjacent Brander property, and not the ...


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