March 19, 2019
to recover damages for the defendant's alleged
negligence, and for other relief, brought to the Superior
Court in the judicial district of New Britain, where the
court, Swienton, J., granted the
defendant's motion for summary judgment and rendered
judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this
court. Reversed; further proceedings.
Matthew C. Eagan, with whom was James P. Sexton, for the
B. Staropoli, for the appellee (defendant).
Prescott, Elgo and Pellegrino, Js.
premises liability action, the plaintiff, Isha Sen, appeals
from the summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendant,
Kostas Tsiongas. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the
trial court erred in rendering summary judgment in favor of
the defendant, who was the landlord of the apartment building
in which the plaintiff lived, because there was a disputed
issue of material fact as to whether the defendant should
have known that the dog of one of the other tenants had
vicious propensities. We agree with the plaintiff and,
accordingly, reverse the judgment of the trial court.
following facts and procedural history are relevant to this
appeal. At the relevant times, the plaintiff resided in the
second floor apartment of a two unit apartment building at
396 Washington Street in Bristol (building). The defendant
was the owner and landlord of the building. On September 18,
2015, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a dog that was owned by the
building's first floor tenant bit the plaintiff in the
building's common stairway. The plaintiff was taken by
ambulance to the University of Connecticut Medical Center in
Farmington, where she was treated for her injuries, which
included lacerations to and numbness of her right hand.
4, 2016, the plaintiff commenced the present action. In her
operative complaint, the plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that
the defendant was negligent in failing to maintain the
building premises in a reasonably safe condition by allowing
the first floor tenant to keep a vicious animal, failing to
investigate the animal's history of viciousness, and
failing to enforce a provision of the lease that prohibited
pets on the premises.
13, 2017, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment,
which was accompanied by an affidavit in which he averred in
relevant part: ‘‘At no time prior to September
18, 2015, did I have any knowledge of the alleged vicious
propensities of the dog involved in the incident. . . . At no
time prior to September 18, 2015, did I observe the dog
involved in the incident engage in vicious behavior, nor did
[the dog's owner] or anyone else inform me that the dog
had a propensity toward viciousness.''
August 30, 2017, the plaintiff filed an objection to the
defendant's motion for summary judgment. In support of
her objection, the plaintiff attached an affidavit in which
she averred in relevant part: ‘‘[The first floor
tenant] spoke openly about how the [dog] had been used as
bait in dog fighting. . . . It is my opinion that the [dog]
exhibited vicious qualities and that these qualities were
apparent to any reasonable person who observed the dog. . . .
The [dog] demonstrated aggression by barking, growling, and
trying to escape the first floor porch whenever I walked up
the stairs. . . . In June of 2015, the [dog] broke out of the
porch and advanced toward my husband, trying to bite him. The
[dog] managed to scratch him before it was brought under
control. . . . Before I was attacked, [the first floor
tenant] informed me that the [dog] had bitten his seven year
support of her objection to the defendant's motion for
summary judgment, the plaintiff also submitted a transcript
of her deposition of the defendant, which was taken on July
31, 2017. During the deposition, the following exchange
occurred between the plaintiff's counsel and the
‘‘Q. You have a rule [in your lease agreement]
that says, ‘You will not have pets.' Why do you
have that rule?
‘‘A. Well, I have that rule more like for . . .
pets cause damage . . . sometimes.
‘‘Q. What kind of damage can pets cause?
‘‘A. Well, going to the bathroom in the house,
this and that, but if somebody asks me, can I get [a pet], or
if [they] have a pet, and they're a good tenant . . .
I'd say okay. You know.
‘‘Q. What kind of damage [other than property
damage] is that?
‘‘A. Well, I mean, if a dog or a cat scratches,
you know, another human, yes.
‘‘Q. And do you have that rule to protect other
‘‘A. No. It's mostly, I put it in, like I
said, for more damage.
‘‘Q. All right. And can you tell me about [the
first floor tenant] asking you about getting a dog?
‘‘A. Yes. He asked me, he wanted to get a dog
from The Humane Society and, then I said, okay.
‘‘Q. Do you know approximately when [the first
floor tenant] got the dog?
‘‘A. Probably 2014 . . . .
‘‘Q. And . . . did you see the dog on the
‘‘A. Well, I had seen the dog on the property
when they had it out, walking the dog, but I [had] seen the
dog inside when I'd go in to do any repairs ...