98 Lords Highway, LLC v. One Hundred Lords Highway, LLC
If a pleading in accordance with C.G.S. §47-31(d) is sufficient for a defendant to quiet title as to a disputed parcel, it also should be sufficient for a counterclaim plaintiff to use to quiet title. 98 Lords Highway, LLC filed an action to quiet title under C.G.S. §47-31(b) to property in Weston against various defendants including Gary Gubner, Victoria Fash and Katherine DeSousa. Two days before trial, the LLC withdrew its complaint. Gubner's counterclaim to quiet title survived the withdrawal. The trial court construed the answers and special defenses of Fash and DeSousa as counterclaims. The LLC objected and conveyed its interest to Alexander Klokus. Klokus was added as a counterclaim defendant. The trial court found that the three counterclaim plaintiffs established good and marketable title in fee simple to their respective lots. The court found for the counterclaim defendants on Gubner's adverse possession claim to certain footage. The counterclaim defendants appealed from the judgment quieting title and Gubner cross-appealed. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment as to Gubner's adverse possession claim and otherwise affirmed the judgment. The counterclaim defendants unsuccessfully claimed, inter alia, that the court erred in quieting title in the absence of a necessary party and by allowing Fash and DeSousa to continue as counterclaim plaintiffs. They contended that once the LLC withdrew its complaint, the case was erased from the docket and the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Appellate Court disagreed. DeSousa had a pending counterclaim regarding quiet title. Fash did not have a separately delineated counterclaim. The trial court's consideration of Fash's motion to amend her answer to clearly delineate her counterclaim, effectively restored the case as to her to the docket. Under Supreme Court precedent, the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction to consider Fash's motion. The trial court properly concluded that the contents of Fash's and DeSousa's pleadings satisfied C.G.S. §47-31(d) and contained viable counterclaims surviving the withdrawal. The case was remanded for the court to consider Gubner's adverse possession claim under the proper legal standard. The trial court improperly held Gubner to a higher standard in fulfilling the "open and visible" prong than required by law. The court concluded that Gubner was "in the boondocks" and required to take "extraordinary measures to put an owner on notice…"