733 A.2d 835
(SC 16000)Supreme Court of Connecticut
Callahan, C.J., and Borden, Berdon, Katz and Palmer, Js.
The defendants appealed to the Appellate Court from the judgment of the trial court awarding possession of certain real property to the plaintiff in a summary process action she had brought against them. The defendants filed their appeal three days after the trial court’s decision on the motion to reargue they had filed pursuant to the applicable rule of practice (§ 11-11). The plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss the appeal arguing that, because the defendants had not appealed within five days of the judgment of possession, as mandated by statute (§ 47a-35), and had failed to comply with the statute (§ 47a-35a) requiring the posting of a
surety bond, the Appellate Court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the appeal. The Appellate Court granted the motion to dismiss, and the defendants, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Held: 1. Under the rule of practice (§ 63-1 [b]) concerning, inter alia, the effect of motions filed prior to the taking of an appeal, the defendants’ motion to reargue suspended the five day appeal period of § 47a-35 until the trial court’s denial of that motion, with the result that their appeal was timely; nothing in the statutory scheme governing summary process actions authoritatively precludes this court from deciding that a motion to reargue tolls the appeal period until the motion has been decided, and tolling would not result in a greater delay than the legislatively approved delays resulting from certain statutory stays of execution. 2. The defendants’ failure to post an appeal bond was not a proper basis for the dismissal of their appeal; according to the plain language of § 47a-35a, an appeal bond is not required where, as here, no lease has existed and a defendant has made a motion to make payments for the reasonable fair rental value of the property in place of a bond.
Argued April 20, 1999
Officially released July 13, 1999
Summary process action brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, Housing Session at Bridgeport, and tried to the court, Cocco, J.; judgment awarding possession to the plaintiff, from which the defendants appealed to the Appellate Court, O’Connell, C.J., and Foti and Sullivan, Js., which granted the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the appeal, and the defendants, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court Reversed; further proceedings.
Joseph P. Ziehl, for the appellants (defendants).
Joseph A. Kriz, with whom, on the brief, was Ivan A. Hirsch, for the appellee (plaintiff).
In this certified appeal, arising out of a summary process eviction action, we must resolve two issues. First, we must determine whether the defendants’ motion to reargue tolled the statutory appeal period for summary process actions, under General
Statutes § 47a-35, until the trial court’s denial of that motion. We conclude that it did. Second, we must determine whether the defendants’ failure to post a surety bond within five days of the entry of judgment, pursuant to General Statutes § 47a-35a,
provided a proper basis for dismissal of the defendants’ appeal. We conclude that, under the circumstances of this case, the defendants were not required to post a bond. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court dismissing the defendants’ appeal.
The following facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. On April 22, 1997, the plaintiff, Rosemary Young, instituted a summary process action, pursuant to General Statutes § 47a-23a, seeking to evict
the defendants, Douglas Young and Maureen Young. The plaintiff asserted nonpayment of monthly rent for the premises located at 28 Lighthouse Point in Fairfield and claimed immediate possession of the premises on the ground that the defendants’ right or privilege to occupy had terminated. The trial court found that the defendants’ prior right or privilege of possession had terminated and, on April 17, 1998, rendered a judgment of possession in favor of the plaintiff.
On April 20, 1998, three days after the trial court’s judgment of possession, the defendants filed a motion to reargue pursuant to Practice Book § 11-11. As the
basis of their motion, the defendants claimed that the trial court’s findings directly contravened the recent Appellate Court case of Kallas v. Harnen, 48 Conn. App. 253, 709 A.2d 586
On May 4, 1998, the trial court denied the defendants’ motion to reargue. At that time, the court also indicated that it would later determine the reasonable rental value of the premises and require the defendants to make payments to the court in accordance with that determination. The court rescheduled the case for two weeks hence in order to give the plaintiff an opportunity to obtain an appraisal of the property and an estimate of its fair rental value.
On May 7, 1998, twenty days after the trial court’s judgment of possession and three days after the trial court’s decision regarding the defendants’ motion to dismiss, the defendants appealed to the Appellate Court from the trial court’s judgment of possession. The
plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that, because the defendants had failed to appeal within five days of the April 17, 1998 judgment of possession, as mandated by § 47a-35, the Appellate Court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the appeal. The plaintiff further argued that the defendants had failed to post a surety bond as required by §47a-35a.
The Appellate Court granted the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without opinion. We granted the defendants’ petition for certification limited to the following issues: (1) “Whether the defendants’ motion to reargue pursuant to Practice Book § 11-11
tolled the appeal period until the denial of that motion?” and (2) “Whether, under the circumstances surrounding this case, the defendants’ failure to post a bond within five days of the entry of judgment formed a proper basis for the dismissal of the defendants’ appeal?” Young v. Young, 247 Conn. 913, 719 A.2d 906
(1998). We conclude that the defendants’ appeal was timely and that the defendants were not required, under the circumstances of this case, to post a bond. We, therefore, reverse the Appellate Court’s judgment dismissing the defendants’ appeal, and remand the case to that court with direction to proceed with the defendants’ appeal.
Before considering the merits of this appeal, we recognize the purposes of summary process proceedings and accompanying procedures. “Summary process is a special statutory procedure designed to provide an expeditious remedy.” Mayron’s Bake Shops, Inc. v.
Arrow Stores, Inc., 149 Conn. 149, 154, 176 A.2d 574 (1961). It “enable[s] landlords to obtain possession of leased premises without suffering the delay, loss and expense to which, under the common-law actions, they might be subjected by tenants wrongfully holding over their terms.” Marsh v Burhans, 79 Conn. 306, 308, 64 A. 739 (1906); see Ossen v. Wanat, 217 Conn. 313, 317, 585 A.2d 685, cert. denied, 502 U.S. 816, 112 S.Ct. 69, 116 L.Ed.2d 43 (1991); Prevedini v. Mobil Oil Corp., 164 Conn. 287, 292, 320 A.2d 797 (1973); Feneck v. Nowakowski, 146 Conn. 434, 436, 151 A.2d 891 (1959); Jo-Mark Sand Gravel Co. v. Pantanella, 139 Conn. 598, 600, 96 A.2d 217 (1953).
Summary process statutes “secure a prompt hearing and final determination.” Todd v. LaMar, 6 Conn. Cir.Ct. 528, 529, 277 A.2d 724 (1971); Henry Knox Sherrill Corp. v. Randall, 33 Conn. Sup. 522, 358 A.2d 159 (1976). Therefore, the statutes relating to summary process must be narrowly construed and strictly followed. See HUD/Barbour-Waverly v. Wilson, 235 Conn. 650, 658, 668 A.2d 1309 (1995); Housing Authority v. Harris, 225 Conn. 600, 605, 625 A.2d 816 (1993); Jo-Mark Sand Gravel Co. v. Pantanella, supra, 139 Conn. 600-601; Vogel v. Bacus, 133 Conn. 95, 97, 48 A.2d 237
“Appeals in summary proceedings are governed by the statutes specifically relating thereto rather than statutes relating to appeals generally.” Connecticut Betterment Corp. v. Ponton, 5 Conn. Cir.Ct. 265, 267, 250 A.2d 340 (1968). Thus, parties must comply with the five day appeal period pursuant to § 47a-35, rather than with the general twenty day appeal period provided in Practice Book § 63-1(a). The requirement that appeals in summary process actions comply with § 47a-35 is
jurisdictional. See HUD/Barbour-Waverly v. Wilson, supra, 235 Conn. 657. Therefore, “compliance with its mandate is a necessary prerequisite to an appellate court’s subject matter jurisdiction.” Id.
With these overarching principles in mind, we turn to the first certified issue in this appeal, that is, whether the defendants’ motion to reargue pursuant to Practice Book § 11-11
tolled the statutory appeal period for summary process actions under General Statutes § 47a-35 until the trial court’s denial of that motion. We conclude that Practice Book § 11-11 tolled the statutory appeal period.
To address this issue, we must interpret § 47a-35. In doing so, we are guided by well established principles of statutory construction. “Statutory construction is a question of law and therefore our review is plenary. . . . [O]ur fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the legislature. . . . In seeking to discern that intent, we look to the words of the statute itself, to the legislative history and circumstances surrounding its enactment, to the legislative policy it was designed to implement, and to its relationship to existing legislation and common law principles
governing the same general subject matter.” (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Rivera v. Double A Transportation, Inc., 248 Conn. 21, 25, 727 A.2d 204 (1999).
We begin our analysis with the words of the statute itself. General Statutes § 47a-35 provides in relevant part: “(a) Execution shall be stayed for five days from the date judgment has been rendered. . . . (b) No appeal shall be taken except within such five-day period. . . .” According to § 47a-35, therefore, the defendants were required to appeal from the trial court’s judgment of possession within five days of the April 17, 1998 bench decision. HUD/Barbour-Waverly v. Wilson, supra, 235 Conn. 657. “The word within is of controlling importance. It means not longer in time than . . . not later than.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Lamberti v. Stamford, 131 Conn. 396, 398, 40 A.2d 190 (1944). Accordingly, the defendants were required to appeal the judgment of possession “no later than” April 23, 1998.
Although the defendants did not file an appeal by April 23, 1998, they did file a motion to reargue on April 20, 1998, three days after the judgment of possession. The defendants contend that their motion to reargue tolled the appeal period until the trial court’s disposition of that motion on May 14, 1998. The plaintiff argues that the defendants’ motion to reargue did not suspend
the five day appeal period provided in § 47a-35. Once again, we turn to the statute.
Although the five day appeal period is mandatory, the statute does not address the effect of motions, such as a motion to reargue, on the five day appeal period. Additionally, the statute makes no reference to actions or motions that may “toll” or stop the appeal period from running. Thus, nothing on the face of the statute precludes the tolling of the appeal period, after it commences on the date of judgment, until the trial court’s decision on the defendants’ motion to reargue.
We turn next to the legislative history of § 47a-35 for guidance. Although the history is silent as to whether a motion to reargue tolls the five day appeal period, the general purpose of expedient summary process proceedings is evident. The original version of § 47a-35, enacted in 1852, required defendants in summary process cases to obtain a writ of error and bill of exceptions within twenty-four hours after judgment was rendered. Although the legislature later extended the deadline for appeals or writs of error to the current five day period, the time frame remains short, evincing an intention to provide a quick remedy for landlords.
The defendants argue, nevertheless, that the proposed tolling effect of a motion to reargue would not
unduly interfere with or contravene the legislative purpose of providing expedient summary process proceedings. Indeed, we acknowledge that the legislature has provided other mechanisms by which a tenant may permissibly frustrate a landlord’s right to expedient summary process. For example, § 47a-35 (b) provides for a stay of execution of a trial court’s judgment during the pendency of any appeal. Under this provision, assuming a timely appeal is filed, a trial court’s judgment of possession could be stayed indefinitely until the Appellate Court renders a decision on the appeal. Additionally, General Statutes § 47a-37 provides the procedures for an application for a stay of execution, allowing the judgment to be stayed until a decision is rendered
on the application. Finally, General Statutes § 47a-39
also permits trial courts to grant a stay of execution when tenants are unable to obtain alternate housing.
As a result of these provisions, a trial court’s remedy often will not go into effect until all appealable issues are resolved. As the defendants point out, tolling the appeal period, which would effectively provide parties with the additional time within which to appeal, likely will result in no greater, and indeed often less, delay than the legislatively approved delays resulting from stays of execution. Therefore, we agree with the defendants that, despite the interest in providing expedient summary process proceedings, there is nothing in the statutory scheme governing summary process actions that authoritatively precludes this court from deciding that a motion to reargue tolls the appeal period until a decision on that motion has been rendered.
The defendants also argue that tolling the appeal period until the motion to reargue has been decided promotes the interests of judicial economy. The defendants’ motion to reargue, if granted, could have rendered the trial court’s judgment of possession ineffective. Under the plaintiff’s theory, the defendants would have been required to file both an appeal of the underlying judgment of possession and a motion to reargue. The plaintiff would require both actions despite the possibility that a decision granting the motion to reargue may have altered the underlying judgment and thus eliminated the defendants’ need to appeal. To require these duplicative actions squanders judicial and party resources.
Practice Book § 63-1(b) prevents this waste of resources and promotes judicial economy by providing that a new appeal period commences upon a court’s decision regarding a motion that could render a judgment ineffective. Section 63-1(b), captioned “Effect of motions filed prior to taking of appeal,” provides in relevant part: “If within the appeal period, including any extension thereof, the appellant files a motion for waiver of fees, costs and security pursuant to Section 63-6 or 63-7 or any party files any motion, which, if granted, would render the judgment or decision appealed from ineffective, a new appeal period shall commence upon the issuance of notice of the decision on the last such outstanding motion. . . .” (Emphasis added.) Thus, parties may wait until the court renders decisions on all outstanding motions that would render the underlying judgment ineffective before filing an appeal from the underlying judgment.
The defendants urge the court to recognize the principles of judicial economy inherent in § 63-1 and advance those ends by not forcing the court and the parties to expend resources on an appeal that may become moot upon the trial court’s decision on the motion to reargue. We are persuaded.
Section 63-1 does not enlarge or modify the statutory appeal period, but, rather, gives guidance in determining when the appeal period shall commence, and in the case of any motion, which, if granted, would allow the court to render a new judgment, when the new appeal period shall commence. Similarly, Practice Book § 11-11 embodies the directions regarding motions that delay the appeal period, and incorporates by reference those motions filed pursuant to § 63-1 that are properly made from judgments considered final for purposes of appeal. These provisions reflect the courts’ authority “to prescribe rules to regulate their proceedings and facilitate the administration of justice as they deem necessary.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v King, 187 Conn. 292, 297, 445 A.2d 901 (1982), quoting State v Clemente, 166 Conn. 501, 514, 353 A.2d 723 (1974); see als Mitchell v. Mitchell, 194 Conn. 312, 324, 481 A.2d 31 (1984) (finding that rules of practice supplement requirements of marriage dissolution statutes and stating that “[t]he [Practice Book] rule does not alter the statute but rather implements it. . . . [W]e see no conflict between the rule and the statute.”).
Rather than read these Practice Book provisions and General Statutes § 47a-35 to be in conflict, and thereby engender separation of powers concerns; see Mitchell v. Mitchell, supra, 194 Conn. 323-24; we recognize the
inherent powers of the court to open judgments and, consequently, to determine when the appeal period properly may commence. Moreover, this is not the only time in connection with summary process proceedings that the rules of practice are consulted when the controlling statute is silent. For example, General Statutes §47a-35 (a) simply provides that “[e]xecution shall be stayed for five days from the date judgment has been rendered. . . .” (Emphasis added.) The statute does not, however, define the term “rendered.” Consequently, we look to the rules of practice to determine whether, for example, a decision is considered rendered on the date of mailing or the date the parties receive the decision. See Practice Book § 63-1(a).
Applying Practice Book § 63-1 to the present case, the defendants’ motion to reargue suspended the five day appeal period in § 47a-35 until the May 4, 1998 denial of that motion. Accordingly, in light of the foregoing, we conclude that the defendants’ motion to reargue pursuant to Practice Book § 11-11
tolled the five day appeal period in § 47a-35 until the trial court’s May 4, 1998 denial of that motion. Therefore, the defendants’ May 7, 1998 appeal of the underlying judgment was timely.
The second issue we must address is whether the defendants’ failure to post a surety bond within five days of the judgment of possession formed a proper basis for the dismissal of their appeal. We conclude that, according to the plain language of the statute, the defendants were not required to post a bond. Thus, the Appellate Court improperly dismissed the defendants’ appeal.
Initially, we recognize that “the purpose of the bond requirement is to protect the landlord in receiving rent for occupancy of the premises.” Wolf v. Carden,
30 Conn. Sup. 507, 511, 294 A.2d 640 (1972). “Failure to comply with the bond requirement makes the appeal voidable upon attack.” Id., 512. Therefore, “the failure to provide such a bond furnishes a sufficient ground for dismissal of the appeal.” Wolf v. Fuller, 30 Conn. Sup. 527, 534, 298 A.2d 244 (1972).
Resolution of this issue also requires an interpretation of §47a-35a. Our interpretation is again guided by the aforementioned principles of statutory construction.
We note first that the plain language of the statute supports our conclusion that the defendants, under the circumstances of this case, were not required to post a bond. The statute provides an exception to the bond requirement “where no lease had existed, for the reasonable value for such use and occupancy that may so accrue; provided the court shall upon motion by the defendant and after hearing thereon order the defendant to deposit with the court payments for the reasonable fair rental value of the use and occupancy of the premises during the pendency of such appeal. . . .” (Emphasis added.) General Statutes § 47a-35a (a). Therefore, when no lease exists, defendant tenants may, upon their motion, make payments to the court for the “reasonable fair rental value” of the property in place of a bond.
There is no claim that any legislative history or decisions of an appellate tribunal requires a different interpretation. Accordingly, we conclude that the statutory exception to the bond requirement applies to the present case. No lease existed between the parties. Therefore, upon motion, the statute permitted the defendants to make payments for the fair rental value of the property to the court in place of a bond. The record indicates that the defendants made such a motion, and the court ordered the defendants to pay a fair rental value of
$1700 per month for the premises. The defendants have complied fully with this order and, therefore, have met the requirements of § 47a-35a (a). Thus, we conclude that the lack of a bond was not a proper basis for dismissal of the defendants’ appeal.
In summary, we conclude that the filing of the defendants’ motion to reargue pursuant to Practice Book § 11-11 tolled the appeal period in General Statutes § 47a-35. Additionally, we conclude that, under the circumstances of this case, the defendants were not required to post a surety bond pursuant to §47a-35a.
The judgment of the Appellate Court is reversed and the case is remanded to that court with direction to consider the defendants’ appeal.
In this opinion the other justices concurred.
“(b) No appeal shall be taken except within such five-day period. If an appeal is taken within such period, execution shall be stayed until the final determination of the cause, unless it appears to the judge who tried the case that the appeal was taken solely for the purpose of delay or unless the defendant fails to give bond, as provided in section 47a-35a. If execution has not been stayed, as provided in this subsection, execution may then issue, except as otherwise provided in sections 47a-36 to 47a-41, inclusive.”
Section 47a-23a (a) was amended by No. 97-231, § 9, of the 1997 Public Acts. Those changes, however, are not relevant to this appeal. References herein are to the current revision.
“Based upon the testimony and stipulations and credible testimony, the court finds and concludes that the plaintiff has sustained her burden of proof as to the allegation of the second count in the complaint for immediate possession of the premises. That the right previously had been terminated.
“Accordingly, judgment for possession of the premises shall enter in favor of the plaintiff on the second count only, the prior right or privilege having been terminated.” Young v. Young, Superior Court, judicial district of Fairfield, Housing Session at Bridgeport, Docket No. 34276 (April 17, 1998).
“Any motions which would, pursuant to Section 63-1, delay the commencement of the appeal period, and any motions which, pursuant to Section 63-1, would toll the appeal period and cause it to begin again, shall be filed simultaneously insofar as such filing is possible, and shall be considered by the judge who rendered the underlying judgment or decision. The party filing any such motion shall set forth the judgment or decision which is the subject of the motion, the name of the judge who rendered it, the specific grounds upon which the party relies, and shall indicate on the bottom of the first page of the motion that such motion is a Section 11-11 motion. The foregoing applies to motions to reargue decisions that are final judgments for purposes of appeal, but shall not apply to motions under Sections 16-35, 16-36 and 11-12.”
“(b) The court rendering the judgment shall inform each defendant in such case of his right to file an application for a stay of execution and, upon request, shall furnish him with the necessary form. Upon the filing of such an application, execution of the judgment rendered shall be further stayed until a decision is rendered on the application. The clerk of the court rendering the judgment shall forthwith hand or send one copy of the application of the adverse party or his attorney, shall note on the original and each copy the date of filing and the date and method of transmittal of the copy to the adverse party or his attorney, and shall file the original and one copy of the application with the complete court records, papers and exhibits in connection with such proceedings.”
The plaintiff concedes that the trial court ordered such payments but argues that the defendants never made a motion for such a determination. We find that the record supports the defendants’ assertion that they did make a motion for order of payments.