Banks v. Adelman

Citation128 A.2d 534,144 Conn. 176
PartiesWillie BANKS et al. v. Anna ADELMAN . Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut
Decision Date27 December 1956
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut

Paul M. Palten, Hartford, for appellants (plaintiffs).

Simon J. Beizer, Hartford, with whom, on the brief, was Morris G. Beizer, Hartford, for appellee (defendant).

Before INGLIS, C. J., and BALDWIN, O'SULLIVAN, WYNNE and DALY, JJ.

BALDWIN, Associate Justice.

The plaintiffs, as tenants, brought this action under § 2231c of the 1953 Cumulative Supplement to recover from their landlord for rent charged in excess of the maximum prescribed by the act regulating rents in housing accommodations. Cum.Sup.1953, c. 356. Section 2231c forbids the acceptance of a payment of rent in excess of the legal limit and gives to the tenant overcharged a right of recovery from his landlord for reasonable attorney's fees and costs as determined by the court, plus liquidated damages of either $50 or three times the amount of the excess collected, whichever is greater, 'provided, the amount of such liquidated damages shall be the amount of the overcharge * * * if the defendant proves that the violation was neither willful nor the result of failure to take practicable precautions against the occurrence of the violation.'

The salient facts are these: For more than a year prior to December 27, 1954, Anna Adelman, hereinafter called the defendant, had owned a tenement house on Wooster Street in Hartford. The tenement on the first floor consisted of three rooms, a kitchen and a bath. The maximum legal rent permitted for this tenement, under the provisions of § 2228c of the 1953 Cumulative Supplement, was $30 a month. The tenement was not registered as a rooming house. For more than a year prior to the institution of this action, the plaintiffs Willie Banks and Earl Boykins each occupied one room with the privilege of sharing the kitchen and the bathroom. They paid rent to the defendant at the rate of $10 and $14 a week, respectively. The plaintiff Nathaniel Goodine occupied the third room in the tenement, with like privileges in the kitchen and the bathroom, from April, 1954, to November 1, 1954. During that time he paid the defendant rent of $12 a week. He then moved to a room on another floor and paid rent at the rate of $12.50 a week until the institution of this action. The plaintiffs did not make any inquiries of the state rent control office regarding the maximum legal rent, and the records of the office do not disclose any complaints relating to their tenancies. The records, however, do show complaints as to other tenements owned by the defendant. These complaints were disposed of under the regulations. The defendant, who died after this action was brought but before the trial, was illiterate as to the English language. She was in her seventy-ninth year and for some time prior to the beginning of this suit had been suffering from cancer and heart trouble. While the court has not so found, the plaintiffs concede that prior to 1948 she had sold all the properties owned by her and that, against the advice and wishes of members of her family, in 1948 she started buying other properties. The plaintiffs also claim, although the court has not so found, that she lived alone, was headstrong and obstinate, and would take advice from no one, choosing to conduct her real estate interests and transactions independently. She died on May 6, 1955, and her son, Louis Adelman, the administrator of her estate was substituted as party defendant.

The court found that the violations were neither wilful nor the result of failure to take practicable precautions against their occurrence; that there had been collected, in excess of the maximum legal rent, $608 from the plaintiff Boykins, $400 from the plaintiff Willie Banks, and $358 from the plaintiff Goodine; and that $500 was due the plaintiffs as a reasonable attorney's fee for prosecuting the violations. The plaintiffs have appealed from the judgment entered upon these conclusions, assigning error in a ruling of the court permitting an amendment to the answer in the finding, and in the conclusions. The plaintiffs' fundamental objection to the judgment in their favor is that the court refused to award them either $50 for each...

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20 cases
  • Brockett v. Jensen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • December 13, 1966
    ...Practice Book (1951) § 397 (now Practice Book, 1963, § 628(a)). The trier is the judge of the credibility of witnesses. Banks v. Adelman, 144 Conn. 176, 179, 128 A.2d 534, and cases cited therein. A further requirement for such an addition to the finding is that the particular portion of th......
  • Martin v. Kavanewsky
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 4, 1969
    ...witness is wholly insufficient. Practice Book § 628(a). 'The trier is the judge of the credibility of witnesses. Banks v. Adelman, 144 Conn. 176, 179, 128 A.2d 534, and cases cited therein. A further requirement for such an addition to the finding is that the particular portion of the appen......
  • Dick v. Dick
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • August 27, 1974
    ...of the trial court and that we will not usurp that function. LaReau v. Warden, 161 Conn. 303, 305, 288 A.2d 54; Banks v. Adelman, 144 Conn. 176, 179, 128 A.2d 534, and cases cited. In this case, where the finding and the appendices are replete with indications that both parties participated......
  • Foldeak v. Incerto, CV-1-688-15535
    • United States
    • Circuit Court of Connecticut. Connecticut Circuit Court, Appellate Division
    • June 5, 1970
    ...The testimony was highly conflicting, and in such a situation the trier is the judge of the credibility of witnesses. Banks v. Adelman, 144 Conn. 176, 179, 128 A.2d 534. We find nothing in the appeal which requires us to disturb the finding as it relates to the first count and the second Th......
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