140 WHITING STREET LLC v. DANIEL THERIAULT

2010 Ct. Sup. 8811
No. CVN 0909-2198Connecticut Superior Court Housing Session at New Britain
May 5, 2010

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.]

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
GILLIGAN, J.

This action is brought by the plaintiff, 140 Whiting Street LLC, seeking damages from the defendant Daniel Theriault for an alleged breach of a lease of residential premises known as 140 Whiting Street, Apartment A, Plainville, Connecticut (the “Premises”). The court conducted a trial on April 29, 2010. The plaintiff was represented by counsel. The defendant was self-represented.

The plaintiff alleges that the defendant failed to pay monthly rent of $1,150 for the months of July and August, 2008. The plaintiff also seeks damages of $4,923.00 for physical damage to the Premises and attorneys’ fees in the amount of $795.00.

The plaintiff’s property manager testified that the landlord entered into a written lease with several third party tenants including the defendant’s sister, Ashley Viens. The property manager testified that although the defendant never signed a lease, the defendant occupied the Premises with his sister during the months of July and August 2008.

The plaintiff submitted a copy of a Stipulation for Judgment” (Plaintiffs Exhibit 4) executed in connection with the summary process action which preceded this civil action. The Stipulation specified that, as of July 11, 2008, the defendant and his sister were indebted to the plaintiff for unpaid rent in the amount of $1,040. Although there is a signature line for the defendant on the Stipulation, it does not bear his signature. The Stipulation further provides that the defendant and his sister were to vacate the Premises by July 31, 2008. The defendant’s sister also agreed to pay the unpaid rent in weekly payments of $50 per week commencing July 18, 2008 and continuing until the unpaid rent was fully paid.

The court has reviewed the documentary and testimonial evidence and makes the following findings.

CT Page 8812 The plaintiff seeks unpaid “rent” for the months of July and August, 2008 from the defendant. The Stipulation acknowledged that, as of July 11, 2010, the tenants owed the plaintiff unpaid rent of $1,040. Logically, the Stipulation can only be read to mean that the stated arrearage of $1,040 included the rent or use and occupancy payment for July which would be due and payable no later than July 10, 2008. The property manager testified that, to her knowledge, the defendant’s sister paid the full amount of the arrearage which included payment for July, 2008 in compliance with the Stipulation. The plaintiff can not claim payment for July twice. To complicate the plaintiff’s claims further, the property manager testified that the plaintiff received an additional $2,500 settlement from another occupant of the Premises which is reflected on Plaintiff’s Exhibit 5, without any detail.

As far as payment for August 2008 is concerned, as noted, the Stipulation called for the defendant and his sister to vacate the Premises by July 31, 2008. The property manager testified that she had no knowledge of whether the defendant or his sister remained in the Premises after July 31, 2008. Accordingly, the plaintiff has failed to prove its claim that the defendant occupied the Premises after July 31, 2008 or is in any manner liable for rent or use and occupancy after that date.

With respect to the plaintiff’s claim for physical damage to the Premises, although the plaintiff submitted photographs of the Premises, no testimony, bills or receipts for any cost of repairs was offered. Moreover, the plaintiff claims the defendant occupied the Premises for only two months, at most. On the other hand, the defendant credibly testified that the conditions depicted in the photographs were present prior to his “visiting” his sister during the month of July 2008.

“The general burden of proof in civil actions is on the plaintiff, who must prove all the essential allegations of the complaint.” Gulycz v. Stop Shop Cos., 29 Conn.App. 519, 523, 615 A.2d 1087, cert. denied, 224 Conn. 923, 618 A.2d 527 (1992). Failure of the plaintiff to establish any of the necessary elements, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, results in judgment for the defendant. Id.

“[T]he mere fact of damage does not necessarily make the tenant liable. Proof of property damage requires evidence. The landlord bears the burden of proof on all elements of a damage claim. This means that the landlord must prove that (a) the damage occurred, (b) it exceeded normal wear and tear, and (c) it was caused by the tenant. Damage may be shown either by direct evidence or circumstantially. However, a tenant is not liable for damages that already existed when he moved into the apartment or for damage which occurred after he vacated. Similarly, he is CT Page 8813 not liable for damage caused by persons for whom he is not responsible.” (Citations omitted). Baroudjian v Stribling, No. CVWA 9703-1419 (Nov. 19, 1997, Levin, J.). In this regard, the plaintiff has not only failed to prove the physical damage with the required specificity, but also failed to prove that the defendant caused the claimed damage.

The court finds that the plaintiff has failed to sustain its burden to prove the allegations in its complaint and accordingly enters judgment for the defendant. So ordered.

CT Page 8814

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