Marquis v. Drost

Decision Date06 July 1967
Citation155 Conn. 327,231 A.2d 527
PartiesLorn C. MARQUIS et al. v. John F. DROST.
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Philip Bayer, Manchester, with whom were Herbert A. Phelon, Jr., Manchester, and, on the brief, Dominic J. Squatrito, Manchester, for appellants (plaintiffs).

Stephen E. Ketcham, Rockville, for appellee (defendant).

Before KING, C.J., and ALCORN, HOUSE, THIM and RYAN, JJ.

HOUSE, Associate Justice.

This is a statutory action to settle the title to land, brought pursuant to the provisions of § 47-31 of the General Statutes. The plaintiffs are the owners of property known as 72 Grand Avenue in Vernon and designated as lot 16 on a plan of lots of Amelia Horn filed in the office of the town clerk in 1888. The defendant is the owner of the adjoining property on the east, known as 68 Grand Avenue and designated as lot 17 on the Horn map. The controversy concerns a strip of land running along the entire easterly portion of lot 16. The strip is seven feet wide on Grand Avenue and diminishes to a width of 3.2 feet at the rear of the lot. It is undisputed that each deed in the plaintiffs' chain of title to lot 16 expressly excluded and excepted this strip from the conveyance of the lot. On the other hand, each deed in the defendant's chain of title to lot 17 expressly included the strip as a separate additional parcel. The plaintiffs claim title to the strip by adverse possession. The defendant claims title by deed.

The complaint, as amended, follows the form suggested by Practice Book Form No. 395. In addition to a prayer for '(a) judgment determining the rights in or to said land and settling the title thereto,' it seeks damages, attorneys' fees and general equitable relief. Following a denial of the allegation that the plaintiffs owned the strip, the defendant, as prescribed by General Statutes § 47-31, alleged his ownership of it and his chain of title by deeds running back to 1923. The claim for relief called for a full determination of the rights of the parties in the land. Spelke v. Shaw, 114 Conn. 272, 283, 155 A. 715, 158 A. 809. We had recent occasion to discuss at length proper pleadings and procedure in an action brought to quiet title, and there is no need to repeat here what we said in Lake Garda Improvement Assn. v. Battistoni, 155 Conn. --, 231 A.2d 276. Upon the filing of such pleadings as those prescribed, § 47-31 provides that '(t)he court shall hear the several claims and determine the rights of the parties, whether derived from deeds, wills or other instruments or sources of title, and may determine the construction of the same, and render judgment determining the questions and disputes and quieting and settling the title to such property.' Nevertheless the judgment as rendered does not follow the mandate of the statute or the relevant concluding portion of the form of judgment suggested in Practice Book Form No. 512 but simply 'finds the issues for the defendant.' From this judgment the plaintiffs have appealed.

Although the plaintiffs originally assigned a great number of errors in the court's finding of facts and in its refusal to find other facts, most of these assignments have been abandoned in their brief on the appeal. Bartlett v. Flaherty, 155 Conn. --, 230 A.2d 436; Derby Savings Bank v. Kurkowski, 155 Conn. 60, 63, 230 A.2d 26. As to the portions of the finding of facts as to which the assignment of error is pressed, we find a conflict in the evidence and that there is evidence which fully supports the court's finding. As to those facts claimed by the plaintiffs but not found by the court, we find none which should be added as admitted or undisputed facts. We cannot retry the facts or pass upon the credibility of witnesses. Triano v. Brodowy, 151 Conn. 445, 446, 199 A.2d 164; Zeller v. Kugell, 145 Conn. 729, 730, 141 A.2d 240.

From the evidence, the court concluded that the plaintiffs had failed to sustain their burden of proving, within the purview of the allegations of their complaint, that they owned the strip of land in controversy by virtue of the fact that they and their predecessors in title had used the strip of land for more than fifteen years openly, visibly, notoriously, adversely, exclusively, continuously, uninterruptedly and under a claim of right. The subordinate facts support this conclusion, and, the plaintiffs having failed to sustain their burden of proof on these essential claims, they cannot prevail. General Statutes § 52-575; Short Beach Cottage Owners Improvement Assn. v. Stratford, 154 Conn. 194, 199, 224 A.2d 532; Barrs v. Zukowski, 148 Conn. 158, 166, 169 A.2d 23; Goldman v. Quadrato, 142 Conn. 398, 402, 114 A.2d 687, 55 A.L.R.2d 549; Bridgeport Hydraulic Co. v. Sciortino, 138 Conn. 690, 694, 88 A.2d 379.

The plaintiffs claimed that their title by adverse possession accrued by tacking. To their own alleged adverse possession from the time they acquired title to 72 Grand Avenue from George and Frances Edmonds in 1960, they claim the right to tack the adverse possession of the Demonds' and their predecessors in title back to 1949. The court, however, expressly found that the Edmonds', who owned lot 16 from 1954 to 1960, did not use the strip of land or any portion of it in connection with their land in any manner adverse to the interest of Richard J. St. Louis, the then owner of record title to lot 17 and to the strip. It further concluded that the Edmonds' did not take possession of the strip of land or any portion of it. The plaintiffs have vigorously attacked this finding and conclusion, and in so doing they rely on the contrary testimony of Mrs. Edmonds. Their attack, however, is futile. The trial court in its memorandum of decision expressly stated that it believed none of the relevant testimony of Mrs. Edmonds. The question of credibility is for the trier. Solari v. Seperak, 154 Conn. 179, 183, 224 A.2d 529; Morrone v. Jose, 153 Conn. 275, 277, 216 A.2d 196. Of course, the failure of the court to believe the testimony of Mrs. Edmonds did not authorize an affirmative finding to the contrary; Panicali v. Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, 147 Conn. 344, 348, 160 A.2d 903; but there was affirmative evidence to support the court's finding, and, in any event, since the plaintiffs had the burden of proof, they could not prevail in the absence of a finding that they had proved that the Edmonds' had used the strip adversely. In the face of the finding and conclusion of the trial court and the resultant six-year gap from 1954 to 1960 in the necessary fifteen-year period for the acquisition of title by adverse possession, the plaintiffs' claim must fail.

Under the circumstances, we but briefly note the additional ground upon which the trial court decided the case. The record discloses that each deed in the plaintiffs' chain of title to lot 16 expressly excepted and excluded from the grant any interest in the controversial strip. In addition, the court found that neither the plaintiffs' grantors in 1960 nor their predecessor grantor in 1954 orally conveyed the strip which each had excepted from...

To continue reading

Request your trial
36 cases
  • State v. Hart, 14230
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • April 7, 1992
    ...have not limited the rule to circumstances involving the testimony of a criminal defendant. State v. Carter, supra; Marquis v. Drost, 155 Conn. 327, 332, 231 A.2d 527 (1967); Edwards v. Grace Hospital Society, 130 Conn. 568, 574-75, 36 A.2d 273 (1944). Furthermore, whether the issue in cont......
  • State v. McCarthy
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 20, 1985
    ...cannot be said to establish affirmatively another; State v. Mayell, 163 Conn. 419, 426-27, 311 A.2d 60 (1972); Marquis v. Drost, 155 Conn. 327, 332, 231 A.2d 527 (1967). Thus the weakness claimed in the state's proof that the property had a value of more than $2000 would not in itself justi......
  • Hartford Elec. Light Co. v. Water Resources Commission
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • December 22, 1971
    ...the issue in that HELCO has neither briefed nor argued this assignment of error and it is, therefore, abandoned. Marquis v. Drost, 155 Conn. 327, 330, 231 A.2d 527; Bartlett v. Flaherty, 155 Conn. 203, 205, 230 A.2d 436; Monahan v. Montgomery, 153 Conn. 386, 389, 216 A.2d 824. Assignments o......
  • State v. Carter
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • April 23, 1985
    ...from testimony that has obviously been rejected. State v. Mayell, 163 Conn. 419, 426-27, 311 A.2d 60 (1972); Marquis v. Drost, 155 Conn. 327, 332, 231 A.2d 527 (1967); Panicali v. Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, 147 Conn. 344, 348, 160 A.2d 903 (1960). "While it would be within ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT