Boccanfuso v. Daghoghi

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*********************************************** The “officially released” date that appears near the be- ginning of each opinion is the date the opinion will be pub- lished in the Connecticut Law Journal or the date it was released as a slip opinion. The operative date for the be- ginning of all time periods for filing postopinion motions and petitions for certification is the “officially released” date appearing in the opinion. All opinions are subject to modification and technical correction prior to official publication in the Connecticut Reports and Connecticut Appellate Reports. In the event of discrepancies between the advance release version of an opinion and the latest version appearing in the Connecticut Law Journal and subsequently in the Connecticut Reports or Connecticut Appellate Reports, the latest version is to be considered authoritative. The syllabus and procedural history accompanying the opinion as it appears in the Connecticut Law Journal and bound volumes of official reports are copyrighted by the Secretary of the State, State of Connecticut, and may not be reproduced and distributed without the express written permission of the Commission on Official Legal Publica- tions, Judicial Branch, State of Connecticut. *********************************************** DOMINICK BOCCANFUSO ET AL. v. NADER DAGHOGHI ET AL. (SC 20397) Robinson, C. J., and Palmer, McDonald, D’Auria, Mullins, Kahn and Ecker, Js.* Syllabus The plaintiff landlords sought to regain possession of certain real property from the defendant tenants on the ground of nonpayment of rent. The parties had executed a commercial lease for the property. The property previously had been used as an automobile sales and repair facility, but the defendants intended to operate a retail rug gallery and a restaurant on the premises. The defendants started making monthly rent payments but stopped approximately five months later. At that time, the defendants had not completed their planned renovations to the premises and had not obtained the certificates of occupancy required to open the businesses. Meanwhile, without informing the defendants, the plaintiffs had been remediating the property of certain environmental contamination in accordance with a stipulated judgment with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. After the defendants failed to pay rent for three consecutive months, the plaintiffs served them with a notice to quit, and, when the defendants failed to vacate the premises, the plaintiffs commenced this summary process action. The defendants asserted several special defenses, including equitable nonforfeiture. At trial, two of the defendants testified that the defendants had stopped paying rent because it was the only way they could stay in business and to draw the plaintiffs’ attention to their difficulties. The trial court rendered judgment of possession for the plaintiffs, concluding, inter alia, that the equitable nonforfeiture defense did not apply because the defendants had intentionally breached the lease. Specifically, the court rejected the defendants’ claims that they had a good faith intent to comply with, and a good faith dispute over the meaning of, the lease. The court found that the defendants’ alleged concerns about environmental contamination, which the defendants claimed justified their withholding of rent, were pretextual, …

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