Tarro v. Mastriani Realty, LLC
In a commercial eviction action brought under Connecticut General Statutes §47a-42a, the court hearing such action properly has before it not only those issues necessary for a proper determination of the parties' possessory rights in the subject premises, but also any issue that might arise with respect to possessions and personal effects that remain at the subject premises following execution. After its eviction, Victorian Elegance, LLC, a business selling antiques and other goods, and Kathleen Tarro, its sole member, brought two actions against Mastriani Realty and James D. and James V. Mastriani. The first action sought a writ of replevin, while the second claimed statutory conversion, lockout, tortious interference in business relationships and negligence. The basis for both actions was the assertion that the defendants were in wrongful possession of the contents and inventory of Victorian Elegance and other personal property. The trial court granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment finding the actions barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel. The plaintiffs appealed claiming that the court improperly concluded that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that the defendants were entitled to judgments as a matter of law because the issues raised therein had been litigated or could have been litigated in the eviction action. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. There was no merit to the plaintiffs' argument that the housing court lacked the necessary jurisdiction or authority to adjudicate any and all issues the parties wished to raise regarding the personal property. The parties' respective property rights to the contents of the former shop squarely were at issue in the eviction action. The plaintiffs were not entitled to perpetual litigation regarding the matter. Based on its review of the record, by operation of law, the plaintiffs forfeited any right to the immediate possession of personal property remaining at the subject premises and they could have raised with the housing court any issues concerning their efforts to reclaim such property with the defendants. The trial court properly determined that the plaintiffs had a full and fair opportunity to litigate their claims before the housing court and should be precluded in subsequent litigation from raising matters that could have and should have been raised before the housing court.