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Jordan v. Biller

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

September 18, 2018


          Argued May 16, 2018

         Procedural History

         Action to recover damages for, inter alia, trespass, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Waterbury, where the court, Brazzel-Massaro, J., granted the plaintiffs' motion to transfer to the judicial district of Middlesex; thereafter, the court, Aurigemma, J., granted the defendants' motion for nonsuit for failure to plead; subsequently, the court, Aurigemma, J., set aside the entry of nonsuit; thereafter, the defendants filed a counterclaim for, inter alia, injunctive relief; subsequently, the matter was tried to the court, Aurigemma, J.; judgment for the plaintiffs, from which the defendants appealed to this court; thereafter, the court, Aurigemma, J., denied the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration as to damages, and the plaintiffs cross appealed to this court; subsequently, the plaintiffs withdrew their cross appeal. Affirmed.

          Karen L. Dowd, with whom were Brendon P. Levesque and, on the brief, Joseph Musco, for the appellants (defendants).

          David S. Doyle, for the appellees (plaintiffs).

          Keller, Prescott and Bright, Js.


          KELLER, J.

         The defendants, Jon and Jacqueline Biller, appeal from the judgment of the trial court in favor of the plaintiffs, Russell Jordan and Lorraine Jorsey. The defendants claim that the court improperly determined that a view easement granted to previous owners of their property was not appurtenant to their land. The defendants also claim that the court erred in awarding the plaintiffs damages. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts, as found by the court, are relevant to our resolution of the defendants' appeal. The plaintiffs' property, on the bank of the Salmon River, is locatedat2Cove Road, East Haddam. The defendants are the owners of 6 Cove Road, which abuts the plaintiffs' property.

         In its memorandum of decision, the court stated: ‘‘The 2 Cove Road property was part of a 101 acre parcel of land . . . owned by Paul and Mary Campbell . . . .

         ‘‘[Paul and Mary Campbell] lived in a ranch house at 6 Cove Road on the 101 acre parcel of property. In 1986, Paul and Mary Campbell sold the house [along] with [eighty-nine] acres of that property to Damon and Brian Navarro, who were real estate developers.'' The Campbells retained 2 Cove Road, which was the remainder of their original 101 acre property, located along the Salmon River. The court further found: ‘‘During the negotiations to purchase the property from the Campbells, Damon and Brian Navarro asked the Campbells to grant them a view easement over [2 Cove Road to benefit] 6 Cove Road. Richard Shea, Jr., the Navarros' counsel, requested language in the purchase and sale contract for the property, which provided that the view easement would run with the property and be binding upon the [Campbells' (sellers')] heirs, successors, and assigns. The Campbells refused to grant a view easement which ran with the property, or bound their successors or assigns. The sales contract, or bond for deed, dated June 23, 1986, stated: ‘This right is personal to the buyers and the spouses of the buyers.'

         ‘‘The Campbells conveyed the property via warranty deed to Damon and Brian Navarro on September 25, 1986. At the same time the parties executed a document [titled] License and View Easement, which provides, in pertinent part:

         ‘‘ ‘This agreement is made and entered into [on September 25, 1986], by and between Paul J. Campbell and Mary E. Campbell, both of the town of Punta Gorda . . . Florida, hereinafter referred to as ‘‘Sellers, '' or ‘‘Owners'' and Damon Navarro, of the town of Marlborough . . . Connecticut, and Brian Navarro, of the town of Hartford . . . Connecticut, hereinafter referred to as the ‘‘Buyers'' or ‘‘Licensees.''

         ‘‘ ‘2. View Easement: Sellers also hereby grant to the Buyers the right to thin and trim the trees on the land retained by the Sellers lying west of the land purchased by the Buyers to permit a view of Salmon Cove from the ranch house on the land purchased by the Buyers. The area in which the Buyers shall have such right is on that portion of [the] Sellers' retained land which lies between the extension westerly of the northerly and southerly boundary lines of the meadow as the same is now constituted on the land purchased by the Buyers, which meadow lies to the west of said ranch house and is approximately [250] feet in width from its northerly to its southerly boundary lines. The Buyers hereby agree to bear the total cost of such tree trimming and tree removal, to perform or have performed the work in a good and workmanlike manner, and to remove or have removed any wood resulting from the thinning and/or trimming from the Sellers' land immediately after the said thinning and/or trimming. It is strictly agreed and understood, however, that no thinning and/or trimming shall be performed without the agreement of the Sellers, which agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld.' '' (Emphasis in original.) This license and view easement was recorded in the East Haddam land records in Volume 219, Page 201.[1]

         The court stated further: ‘‘Damon and Brian Navarro subdivided the property [that they purchased from the Campbells] as part of a subdivision known as Scoville Landing.In1989, Damon and Brian Navarro quitclaimed a thirty acre portion of the property identified as Lot 19 of Scoville Landing to Anne Navarro. In 1992, Anne Navarro sold that property to Rolf H. Olson and Sioux S. Olson by a warranty deed.[2] . . . [T]he warranty deed contained the property description which referred to the property as 6 Cove Road and included the following language after the property description: ‘Together with any and all assignable rights of Grantor to a license and view ...

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