2011 Ct. Sup. 15001, 52 CLR 222
No. HHD CV 11 6021357 SConnecticut Superior Court Judicial District of Hartford at Hartford
July 8, 2011
MEMORANDUM ORDER RE MOTION TO DISMISS OR TRANSFER TO HOUSING COURT
MICHAEL R. SHELDON, J.
This is an action by a commercial landlord against a commercial tenant to collect unpaid rent allegedly due and owing to it under a lease for commercial premises in the City of Hartford, Connecticut. The defendant has now moved this Court, under Section 10-30 of the Connecticut Practice Book, either to dismiss the action for improper venue, under Section 10-31(3), or to transfer the action to the housing docket of this Judicial District, on the ground that the action involves a “housing matter,” within the meaning of General Statutes § 47a-68, which should first have been placed on said housing docket, in compliance with General Statutes §§ 47a-70, and now, assertedly, must be heard by a judge assigned to that docket, pursuant to General Statutes § 51-348(c). The plaintiff opposes this motion on the grounds that this action does not involve a housing matter, within the meaning of the controlling statute, because the leased premises are not used for human habitation and that even if it does involve a housing matter, its designation as such does not defeat this Court’s jurisdiction over the action or require that it be transferred to the housing docket for adjudication. For the following reasons, the Court agrees with the defendant that this case does indeed involve a housing matter, and thus that it must be transferred to the housing docket of this Judicial District for such further proceedings as are required by law and/or ordered by a judge of said housing docket:
1. The plaintiff rightly contends that this action involves a “housing matter,” within the meaning of General Statutes § 47a-68, because it is an “action for back rent . . . arising out of the parties’ relationship as landlord and tenant or owner and occupant,” which is expressly listed as a “housing matter” in the text of that statute. The Court agrees with this claim because the statute unambiguously provides that “all” such actions are to be so classified. The Court thus has no occasion to construe the statute to find a contrary meaning, as the plaintiff requests, based either upon statutory definitions applicable only to other chapters of the General Statutes, such as those set forth in CT Page 15002 General Statutes § 47a-1, or upon the legislative history of the statutes by which the housing docket was established. Although the premises here at issue were not leased for dwelling purposes or used as a place of human habitation, no requirement that they be so leased or used appears in the relevant portion of the statutory definition of the term “housing matter.”
2. Under General Statutes § 47a-70(a), “All proceedings involving a housing matter in the judicial district of Hartford . . . shall first be placed on the housing docket for that district, provided that the judge before whom such proceeding is brought may transfer such matter to the regular docket for a geographical area or judicial district if he determines that . . . such docket is more suitable for the disposition of the case . . .” Although this statute plainly establishes that a housing matter can be heard and adjudicated by a judge assigned to any docket of this or any Judicial District if and when it is transferred to that docket from the housing docket, it just as plainly establishes that the threshold decision as to whether such a transfer should be ordered must be made by a judge assigned to the housing docket of the District, where the matter must initially be brought and, without an intervening order of transfer, must ultimately be heard and adjudicated.
3. This conclusion is supported by our Supreme Court’s decision i Savage v. Aronson, 214 Conn. 256, 263, 571 A.2d 696 (1990). The Court there ruled that the statutory assignment of certain types of cases to the housing docket of this or any Judicial District is a matter of venue, not a matter of jurisdiction. Thus, it held that the waivable remedy for bringing an action before a docket not having proper statutory venue is not dismissal of the action, but transfer of the action to the docket having such proper statutory venue.
4. Here, the defendant timely moved this Court to dismiss the plaintiff’s action for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer the action from the regular civil docket to the housing docket of this Judicial District. Because this action should first have been placed on the housing docket and the defendant has seasonably objected to the failure to do so, this Court must now order that the action be transferred to that docket, where a judge thereof can either hear and adjudicate the matter in due course or order, in his sole discretion, that the matter be transferred back to this docket if he determines that this docket would be more suitable for that purpose.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 8th day of July 2011.
CT Page 15003