Wednesday, December 18, 2013

R & R of Connecticut, Inc. v. Stiegler case brief

R & R of Connecticut, Inc. v. Stiegler case brief summary
493 A.2d 293 (1985)

Defendant landlord appealed a decision from the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain (Connecticut), holding that an option to extend a lease had been properly exercised by plaintiff tenant, in the tenant's action to enjoin the landlord from terminating the lease. The landlord's counterclaim sought a declaratory judgment that the lease would expire because of the tenant's failure to exercise its option.

In issue was whether a tenant's late notice of intention to renew a lease of commercial property should be excused on equitable principles. The tenant claimed: (1) that the delay was slight, (2) that the delay was not wilful and his neglect or forgetfulness was excused because of his former attorney's death; and (3) that the tenant would suffer severe hardship if the lease was not renewed.

The lower court, in finding the attorney's death to be justification for equitable intervention, found only that the tenant might have been forgetful or neglectful in giving notice.


  • The lower court failed to state whether the tenant's failure to give notice amounted to wilful or gross negligence, which would not allow for equitable relief, or was merely neglect, which would permit such relief. 
  • An attorney's statement that he believed it was probably the previous attorney's intention to send a renewal letter was devoid of any probative value. 
  • The court did not reach the ultimate question of possible unconscionability if the tenant was not granted a renewal of the lease because a new trial was necessary for the missing element of the degree of the tenant's negligence in failing to give notice.

The court set aside the judgment below in favor of the tenant and remanded the case for further proceedings in accordance with the opinion.

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