Kantrowitz v. Perlman

Citation240 A.2d 891,156 Conn. 224
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Decision Date06 March 1968
PartiesRalph S. KANTROWITZ et al. v. William H. PERLMAN et al.

Ralph S. Kantrowitz, Bridgeport, for appellants (plaintiffs).

Lawrence P. Weisman, Bridgeport, for appellees (defendants).


COVELLO, Acting Justice.

This is an action for specific performance of a contract to convey real property and for other equitable and legal relief. The plaintiffs alleged the following: On October 24, 1966, the defendant Robert Treat Apartments, Inc., hereinafter referred to as Treat, held the legal title to a certain parcel of real estate in the City of Milford. On that day, the plaintiffs entered into a written contract with Treat whereby the plaintiffs agreed to purchase and Treat agreed to sell the premises on terms set forth in the contract. A copy of the contract was recorded on the land records of Milford. On June 6, 1967, Treat, in violation of its contract to convey to the plaintiffs, conveyed the premises to the defendant William H. Perlman, and Perlman mortgaged the premises to Treat. Perlman knew of the agreement between the plaintiffs and Treat. On June 6, 1967, the plaintiffs were, and ever since have been, ready, willing and able to perform their obligations under the agreement and have offered to do so. By its conveyance to Perlman, Treat has made it impossible to carry out its agreement with the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs sought (a) a decree setting aside the conveyance of the premises from Treat to Perlman, (b) a decree setting aside the mortgage on the premises from Perlman to Treat, (c) a decree ordering Treat to convey the premises to the plaintiffs, (d) such other relief as to equity may pertain, and (e) $500,000 damages.

The defendants pleaded in abatement and to the jurisdiction on the ground that the property described in the complaint is a recreational area, that the complaint concerns a controversy relating to such area and that the contract provided for arbitration of such a controversy. The defendants claimed that arbitration and award are conditions precedent to any right of legal action arising out of matters relating to the recreational area, and, since no demand for arbitration had been made, the court was without jurisdiction in the matter. They further claimed that the action was prematurely brought and should be abated.

In answer to the plea, the plaintiffs alleged that the agreement to arbitrate contained in the contract did not expressly or otherwise make arbitration and award a condition precedent to the plaintiffs' right to bring suit for specific performance; that the agreement is an enforceable contract and did not deprive the court of jurisdiction; and that if either parth to the arbitration agreement 'seeks to enforce it under the provisions of our statutes' the court still has jurisdiction to determine (a) the validity of the agreement and (b) whether the arbitration agreement covers the particular subject matter of the complaint in the present action. The court sustained the plea in abatement and to the jurisdiction on the grounds that arbitration was a condition precedent to the bringing of any action and that the present action was prematurely brought. The plaintiffs have appealed.

Arbitration is the voluntary submission, by the interested parties, of an existing or future dispute to a disinterested person or persons for final determination. It is intended to avoid the formalities, the delay, the expense and the vexation of ordinary litigation. Ginsberg v. Coating Products, Inc., 152 Conn. 592, 596, 210 A.2d 667; Gores v. Rosenthal, 150 Conn. 554, 557, 192 A.2d 210; Gaer Bros., Inc. v. Mott, 144 Conn. 303, 307, 130 A.2d 804, 65 A.L.R.2d 749. Whether a particular dispute is within the scope of an agreement to arbitrate is a question for the court unless, by appropriate language, the parties have agreed to arbitrate that question also. Frager v. Pennsylvania General Ins. Co., 155 Conn. 270, 274, 231 A.2d 531; College Plaza, Inc. v. Harlaco, Inc., 152 Conn. 707, 206 A.2d 832.

Where a contract contains a stipulation that the decision of arbitrators on certain questions shall be a condition precedent to the right of action on the contract itself, such a stipulation will be enforced, and, until arbitration has been pursued, or some sufficient reason is given for not pursuing it, no action can be brought on the contract. Bernhard v. Rochester German Ins. Co., 79 Conn. 388, 395, 65 A. 134; see First Ecclesiastical Society v. Besse, 98 Conn. 616, 622, 119 A. 903. Whether an agreement makes arbitration a condition...

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13 cases
  • J. Dunn & Sons, Inc. v. Paragon Homes of New England, Inc.
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1970
    ...a question of law for the court. Brampton Woolen Co. v. Local Union 112, 95 N.H. 252, 256, 61 A.2d 796; Kantrowitz v. Perlman, 156 Conn. 224, 240 A.2d 891, 893 (Conn.1968); Old Dutch Farms, Inc. v. Milk Drivers & Dairy Emp. Union, 359 F.2d 598, 600 (2nd Cir., 1966); 5 Am.Jur.2d, Arbitration......
  • Lynes v. Calcagni Associates, No. HHBCV 05500025 S (CT 3/6/2006)
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 6, 2006
    ...some sufficient reason given for not pursuing it, no action can be brought on the contract." (Citations omitted.) Kantrowitz v. Perlman, 156 Conn. 224, 227, 240 A.2d 891 (1968). However, an arbitration agreement can be rendered void if the formation of that agreement involved duress, misrep......
  • Waterbury Teachers Ass'n v. City of Waterbury
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 7, 1973
    ...'is intended to avoid the formalities, the delay, the expense and the vaxation of ordinary litigation.' Kantrowitz v. Perlman, 156 Conn. 224, 226, 240 A.2d 891, 893. 'Legislative provisions designed to secure order, system and dispatch in proceedings are ordinarily held to be directory wher......
  • Waterbury Bd. of Ed. v. Waterbury Teachers Ass'n
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 4, 1975
    ...to arbitrate that question, also.' Frager v. Pennsylvania General Ins. Co., 155 Conn. 270, 274, 231 A.2d 531, 533; Kantrowitz v. Perlman, 156 Conn. 224, 226, 227, 240 A.2d 891. Thus, whether the question of arbitrability is committed to the arbitrator the court may, on a motion to vacate, e......
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