JAMES R.G. MCBURNEY et al. v. PETER P. PAQUIN et al.;
JAMES R.G. MCBURNEY et al. v. ANTOINETTE F. VERDERAME et al.,
Judicial District of Hartford
Property; Quiet Title Actions; Easements; Whether an Implied Easement Granted the Owners of Rear Lots in a Beachfront Community the Right to Use a Lawn for Recreation and Socializing. The plaintiffs own one of four front lots in a beachfront community in the town of Branford. They brought these quiet title actions, claiming, among other things, that the defendants, who own rear lots in the development, improperly trespassed upon a lawn parcel that lies between the front lots and the beach. The matters ultimately came before the Supreme Court, which held in McBurney v. Cirillo, 276 Conn. 782 (2006), that by virtue of a development plan that was created in 1885, the rear lot owners were the beneficiaries of an easement by implication over a portion of the lawn parcel. The Supreme Court remanded the cases to the trial court for a determination of the scope of the implied easement. The trial court initially decided that in determining the scope of the easement, it would only consider evidence regarding the use of the parcel that occurred around the time of the easement's creation, namely, from 1885 to the early part of the twentieth century. It then emphasized that from 1885 to 1905, a number of the lots in the development were conveyed by way of deeds that included the term "right of way" to define the nature of the easement. Noting that, at the time that those deeds were executed, the term "right of way" was defined as a person's right to pass through grounds or property owned by another, the court concluded that the easement was created only to give the rear lot owners the right to pass over the lawn in order to access the beach area, and, therefore, they were not permitted to use the lawn for other purposes, such as recreation or socializing. The court further determined that although an early twentieth century dispute involving the same development, which was resolved by the Supreme Court in Fisk v. Ley, 76 Conn. 295 (1903), indicated that both rear and front lot owners had at that time used the lawn "in common" for "standing and sitting thereon," that matter failed to establish that the rear lot owners had a right to engage in such activities. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court's decision was proper.