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Garden Homes Profit Sharing Trust, L.P. v. Cyr

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 2, 2019

GARDEN HOMES PROFIT SHARING TRUST, L.P.
v.
ROBERT CYR

          Submitted on briefs January 4, 2019

         Procedural History

         Summary process action brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Danbury, Housing Session, where the court, Winslow, J., rendered judgment for the defendant; thereafter, the court denied the plaintiff's motion to reargue, and the plaintiff appealed to this court. Reversed; further proceedings.

          Thomas T. Lonardo and Colin P. Mahon filed a brief for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Keller, Bright and Moll, Js.

          OPINION

          KELLER, J.

         The plaintiff, Garden Homes Profit Sharing Trust, L.P., appeals from the trial court's judgment in favor of the defendant, Robert Cyr.[1] The plaintiff claims that the court erred by (1) concluding that the plaintiff lacked statutory authority to proceed with the summary process action against the defendant in the absence of Susan Scribner, the owner of the mobile home where the defendant resides, (2) rendering judgment in favor of the defendant after concluding that the owner of the mobile home where the defendant resides was a necessary party to the action, and (3) denying the plaintiff's Practice Book § 11-11 motion to reargue the court's initial decision to dismiss the plaintiff's action. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         We briefly set forth the procedural course of the case. The plaintiff commenced this summary process action against the defendant by writ of summons and complaint dated August 3, 2017. The complaint alleged that ‘‘[o]n or about August 18, 2014, the defendant . . . took occupancy ofa certain mobile home located at 68 Apple Blossom Lane, Danbury, Connecticut, in the plaintiff's mobile home community.'' The complaint also alleged that the defendant ‘‘took occupancy of the premises pursuant to approval from the plaintiff community owner, '' and that the defendant ‘‘failed to comply with the community guidelines . . . .'' In particular, the complaint alleged that the defendant violated the following guideline: ‘‘Activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of their residences by persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises; and/or any activity that threatens the health or safety of any onsite property management staff responsible for managing the premises.''[2] The complaint further alleged that despite the plaintiff causing ‘‘notice to be duly served on the defendant to quit occupancy of the premises on or before July 21, 2017, '' the defendant ‘‘still continues to occupy [the premises].'' Accordingly, the plaintiff sought ‘‘[j]udgment for possession of the premises.''

         The defendant filed his answer to the plaintiff's complaint on August 11, 2017, in which he indicated that he either disagreed with or had no knowledge of the allegations set forth in the complaint. He did not set forth any special defenses.

         After one continuance was granted, the case was scheduled for trial on October 16, 2017. That morning, the defendant filed another motion for a continuance, which was denied by the court. When the case was called, the defendant reiterated his request to continue the case. He informed the court that he was in severe pain and in need of medical treatment. The plaintiff's counsel indicated to the court that he was prepared for trial. While reconsidering the defendant's request for a continuance, the court sought to clarify the plaintiff's claim against the defendant. The plaintiff's counsel indicated to the court that the defendant is a guest of Scribner, the owner of a mobile home who leases a lot in the mobile home community owned by plaintiff. The plaintiff's counsel further stated that the defendant is neither a resident nor a tenant but was approved by the plaintiff to ‘‘stay with [Scribner] as a guest only.'' The court expressed concern that the plaintiff might have ‘‘standing issues'' because the plaintiff was seeking to evict a co-occupant who neither rented directly from the plaintiff nor owned a mobile home situated in the plaintiff's mobile home park. The plaintiff's counsel indicated to the court that he had filed a brief that day addressing the court's concerns. The court then continued the matter for one week and indicated that it would consider the issue of ‘‘standing'' at the next hearing.

         On October 23, 2017, the parties again appeared before the court. At the outset, the plaintiff's counsel indicated to the court that he was prepared to call two witnesses to testify in the matter. The defendant, however, made an oral motion to dismiss but stated no particular ground for his motion. The court then questioned how the plaintiff could seek to evict the defendant without also naming Scribner, the mobile home owner, with whom the defendant resided. The plaintiff's counsel argued that the plaintiff was not trying to take possession of the mobile home but, rather, the land underneath the mobile home. The plaintiff's counsel indicated to the court that the plaintiff was seeking ‘‘possession of it as it pertains to [the defendant].'' The court stated: ‘‘You need to bring an action against [the mobile home owner] in order to get the mobile home off the land. . . . [Y]ou've got the land. But what you want to get rid of is the mobile home that houses [the defendant].'' The plaintiff's counsel responded: ‘‘No, Your Honor, we want to get rid of [the defendant].'' The court indicated that the plaintiff is unable to evict the defendant without bringing an action against Scribner. It then stated that the ‘‘[m]atter is dismissed as to [the defendant].''

         After the hearing was over, the court went back on the record without notice to and in the absence of the parties. The court indicated: ‘‘I believe I misspoke a few minutes ago when I stated that I was dismissing the case. I do not think this is a matter of jurisdiction. And I want to clarify that I am granting judgment to the defendant . . . on the basis of lack of statutory authority to proceed on the summary process action.

         ‘‘The plaintiff has brought the action against a man who is neither a tenant of [the plaintiff] nor [does it] own the mobile home in which [the defendant] resides. So, [it is] not the owner either.

         ‘‘[The plaintiff] represent[s] that [it is] the [owner] of the land on which the mobile home sits. But in order to evict . . . an occupant of a mobile home that's not owned by [the plaintiff, it has] to evict the owner of the mobile home as well as the tenant[3] or at ...


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