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Sack Properties, LLC v. Martel Real Estate, LLC

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 23, 2019

SACK PROPERTIES, LLC
v.
MARTEL REALESTATE, LLC, ET AL.

          Argued March 11, 2019

         Procedural History

         Action seeking, inter alia, to quiet title to certain real property, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the court, Moukawsher, J.; judgment in part for the defendant, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Benjamin M. Wattenmaker, with whom, on the brief, was John M. Wolfson, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Edward W. Gasser, with whom, on the brief, was Margot E. Vanriel, for the appellee (named defendant).

          Prescott, Elgo and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

          BISHOP, J.

         In this action involving three lots of commercial property and a drainage easement enjoyed by the plaintiff, Sack Properties, LLC, the owner of two of those lots, over the lot owned by the defendant Martel Real Estate, LLC, [1] the plaintiff challenges the judgment of the trial court, rendered after a court trial, in part in favor of the defendant.[2] On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court improperly (1) rejected its quiet title and trespass claims on the ground that it failed to prove that it exclusively owned the pipe through which its drainage easement ran, and (2) found that it failed to prove that the defendant had overburdened its right to use the drainage easement. We disagree, and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.[3]

         The following relevant facts are undisputed. In 1976, the Town Planning Commission of Canton approved a three lot subdivision plan titled, ‘‘Powder Mill Industrial Park, '' submitted by the then-owner of the property, Henry Bahre. In 1978, Bahre filed a revised map of the subdivision, as required by the town, showing a drainage right-of-way, which commenced on the easterly line of lot 3, then down the southerly line of lot 1 and northerly line of lot 2, until it ran in its entirety down the northeast corner of lot 2, and went under Powder Mill Road, before it dumped into the Farm-ington River. The stormwater runoff passes under the easement area by way of a 24 inch subsurface concrete pipe.

         In 1984, Bahre conveyed all three lots to Inertia Dynamics, Inc. The deed conveying lot 1 provided, inter alia: ‘‘Said premises are subject to a twenty (20') foot drainage right-of-way along the southeasterly boundary of the lot . . .'' The deed conveying lots 2 and 3 provided, inter alia: ‘‘Lot No. 2 is subject to a drainage right-of-way along the northerly line of [l]ot No. 2.''

         Subsequently, on April 30, 2003, Inertia Dynamics, Inc. conveyed lot 2 back to Bahre. The deed conveying lot 2 to Bahre provided that the ‘‘premises are subject to a drainage right-of-way along the northerly line of [l]ot No. 2.'' It did not state who enjoyed that right-of-way. On the same day, Inertia Dynamics, Inc., conveyed lots 1 and 3 to the plaintiff. The deed conveying lots 1 and 3 to the plaintiff provided that they were ‘‘conveyed together with a drainage easement across [l]ots 1 and 2 . . . .'' Both of the 2003 deeds provided that the property was being transferred ‘‘with the appurtenances thereof . . . .'' The deed conveying lot 2 to Bahre was recorded on the land records before the deed conveying lots 1 and 3 to the plaintiff.

         In 2005, the plaintiff, at its sole expense, installed and/or made improvements to the subsurface drainage structures within the drainage easement area to service its drainage needs.

         On April 13, 2007, Bahre conveyed lot 2 to the defendant. This deed also referenced the drainage right-of-way, but provided that only lot 1 enjoyed that right-of-way along the northerly line of lot 2. In 2013, the defendant, in developing its property, connected to the 24 inch pipe to provide additional drainage from its property.

         The plaintiff filed this action by way of a seven count complaint, alleging a quiet title action pursuant to General Statutes § 47-31, an action for declaratory judgment pursuant to General Statutes § 52-29, interference with its easement, trespass, nuisance, unjust enrichment, and quantum meruit. The crux of the plaintiff's claims is that it exclusively owns both the right to enjoy the drainage easement-over lot 2, from both lots 1 and 3-and the 24 inch concrete pipe that services ...


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