Neighbors In Court: Bamboo Edition

Nothing makes for good neighborly relations like a law suit!

When neighbors take each other to court it’s like an angry divorce without any incentive to be civil to each other for the sake of the kids.

Connecticut has not shortage of neighbors suing each other for one thing or another. Fence companies aren’t marketing themselves well enough.

From Wikipedia

This morning while reviewing cases, I came across a case involving every earthy yuppie’s favorite plant – bamboo. Rickel v. Komaromi, No. CV105010673 (Keegan, J.).

The plaintiff who the court notes was self-represented brought suit against her neighbors seeking money damages for bamboo encroaching on her property.  She alleged that the bamboo invaded her property.

What do you do when bamboo invades your property? Plead a count of “Encroachment by Vegetation?!?!?” That’s what the plaintiff did.

And if that was your answer –  you’d be wrong! The Court granted the Defendant’s Motion to Strike the Plaintiff’s “Encroachment by Vegetation” count finding it was not a cause of action.

The opinion does not address whether or not the plaintiff is seeking the injunctive remedy of caning as relief.

Who Pays For Pet Medical Expenses In A Divorce?

by Ryan McKeen

Dogs are expensive. Especially, sick dogs.

Any dog owner understands that pet medical bills can be no small expense.

Under Connecticut law, pets are personal property. There is little legal difference between a dog and a car.

Recently, a Connecticut Superior Court in the case of Geiger v. Geiger was confronted with the issue of post divorce pet medical bills.

The court ordered that the husband and the wife are to equally divide the costs of medical treatment for dogs.

The court treated the dogs as if they were marital debt. Think about that the next time you think of buying a pet. Pets are not just personal property. They have the potential to become marital debt.

To put it another way, pets are a pain in the asset.

For Annie Hornish: CT Rabbit Law

by Ryan McKeen

Today I’m putting a new twist on an old post. I originally wrote this post in March of 2008 and it’s worth revisiting.

For starters, I’m tired and my heart just isn’t into generating new content.

Last week,  I got involved in a back and forth with one of my favorite Courant columnists, Rick Green.

Anyhow, Rick posted a youtube video about my state representative, Annie Hornish. I saw the video and felt compelled to respond.

Rick read my comment and changed his mind on Annie. Good for him and good for Annie.

Here at A Connecticut Law Blog, we ( by “we” I mean Brady and I) are big fans of CT animal statutes and cases.

Yes, Annie has introduced a number of bills dealing with animal rights during her term.  In doing so, Annie is continuing the work of legislators who have sought to make the world more humane for our furry friends.

Anyhow, here’s a law that predates Annie:

In Connnecticut, it is illegal for a person to sell or give away a live rabbit that has been dyed, colored or otherwise treated so as to import to them an artificial color.  Any person who violates the law faces a fine not to exceed $150. Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 53-249a.

My legal advice to you (yes, I’m violating my own policy of not giving legal advice in this blog) is to only dye Easter eggs and leave the bunny alone.

Connecticut Cat Bite Law

Just finished reading the 2008 Connecticut Appellate Review by Wesley W. Horton and Kenneth J. Bartschi and they touched upon the very important case of Allen v. Cox. The authors pose the question: Does a cat get one free bite? Their answer, “No, if the cat has a bad reputationl yes, if it has a good reputation.”

Imagine introducing evidence at trial concerning the character of a cat. They’re all evil.

Socks The Cat 

So often it’s the dogs that get all of the bad press. Here at aconnecticutlawblog, make no bones about it – I’m a dog person.

In the interest of equal time, I’ve decided to write about cat bite  law.

Today, the Connecticut Supreme Court released an opinion holding that when a cat has a propensity to attack other cats, knowledge of that propensity may render the owner liable for injuries  to people that are reasonably foreseeable as a result of such behavior. Allen v. Cox

Ms. Allen was injured when she tried to protect her cat from a cat that had previously attacked other cats.  When Ms. Allen heard two cats fighting she opened her door and her cat ran towards her and she picked it up and put her cat inside. The defendant’s cat jumped on Ms. Allen and bit her in her left arm.

In viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, the Connecticut Supreme Court found that it was reasonably foreseeable that a person would try to protect their cat from being attacked by another cat. There was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendants knew or should have known that their cat’s vicious propensities could lead it to injure a person. 

Pictured above is Socks the cat. Socks is too lazy to attack anything let alone anyone which is good news for his owners.

Connecticut’s Prejudgment Remedy Problem

Connecticut has a prejudgment remedy problem.

The statutes do not make it clear as to whether or not a plaintiff can commence an action at the same time that it commences a prejudgment remedy.

I know from experience that some Connecticut court clerks allow this to happen while at least one won’t. I found this out the hard way.

Here’s my argument as to why a plaintiff should be allowed to commence an action at the same time it files a PJR.

The filing of a prejudgment remedy does not prevent a plaintiff from commencing a civil action. There is not statute or case that holds the filing of a prejudgment remedy bars a plaintiff from commencing a civil action at the same time.

The required process of obtaining a prejudgment remedy is different from commencing a civil action. Bernhard-Thomas Building Systems, LLC v. Duncan, 286 Conn. 548, 558 (2008). Individuals seeking a prejudgment remedy must attach an unsigned writ, summons, and complaint to the following documents: (1) a prejudgment remedy application; (2) an affidavit stating facts sufficient to show that probable cause exists that a judgment will be rendered in the action in favor of the plaintiff; (3) a form of order that a hearing be held; and (4) a form of summons for the prejudgment remedy hearing. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-278c(a).

 Our Supreme Court has made it clear that applications for prejudgment remedies and civil actions are separate and distinct proceedings. Bernhard-Thomas Building Systems, LLC v. Duncan, 286 Conn. 560 (2008).  A prejudgment remedy can be brought at anytime: before an action, while an action is pending and even while a judgment is being appealed.

There is no statute that restricts a Plaintiff from filing a complaint. Ruling that an action cannot be brought while a prejudgment remedy application is pending enjoins a plaintiff from commencing an action which is clearly not the requirements of Connecticut’s statutes.

Commencing an action at the same a prejudgment remedy is filed is both common and preferred practice in Connecticut. How To Get Your Clients Paid: The Use of Pre-And Post Judgment Tactics, Materials from Connecticut Bar Association CLE on March 26, 2007.

 There are a number of good reasons for a Plaintiff to commence a civil action at the same time it files a prejudgment remedy application:

1. The filing of prejudgment remedy application does not commence an action for statute of limitations purposes; 

2. Service of process on any documents can be difficult and having the documents served at the same time deprives the defendant of an opportunity to willfully avoid service; and

3.  Doing so provides parties with the opportunity to resolve the underlying dispute and eliminate the need for a prejudgment remedy hearing at all.

Whether or not I’m right is an open question. I think I am but there should be uniformity across Connecticut courts as to whether or not filing a PJR at the same time as an action is acceptable.

Perhaps this is an issue for the legislature or perhaps it can be resolved with a change to the practice book.

In the meantime, before filing a PJR, call and ask the clerk in the Judicial District whether or not you can file a PJR at the sametime you commence an action.

Turn your headlights on today!

It’s going to snow today. I’ll drive home today with zero visibility and without fail I’ll see or not see drivers without their headlights on. Earth to you: headlights are not only to help you see but so that others can see you.

Turn them ON! Don’t be that guy today. 

Not only is driving without your headlights on really stupid, potentially negligent, and dangerous – it’s illegal in Connecticut:

Every vehicle upon a highway within this state shall display such lighted lamps and illuminating devices as may be required …  at any time during periods of precipitation, including, but not limited to, periods of snow, rain or fog.  Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 14-96a.

Have a safe commute home.

Barney The Dog: A Presidential Liability

President Bush has a lot to worry about. The economy, two wars, eating pretzels and Barney his dog.


It seems the Reuters reporter isn’t the only person that Barney has bitten. The Boston Globe has this article about how Barney drew blood when he bit the wrist of the Celtics public relations director in September.

What would happen if Barney bit someone in Connecticut?

President and Mrs. Bush would be strictly liable for his actions.

Click here for a brief summary of Connecticut dog bite law.

Don’t be surprised if President Bush starts pushing for tort reform before he leaves office.

If that fails, don’t be surprised to hear Barney begging for a pardon.

Presumption of Death in CT

Any person who has been absent from his home and unheard of for a period of seven or more years shall be presumed to be dead……Conn.Gen. Stat. Sec. 45a-329

This statute exists to prevent property from going to waste.

So if you are going on a long vacation, make sure to email, write, or phone home every six years or so.

I hope to be back with a full entry on Friday.

CT Condo Law: Displaying Political Signs

Matt Conway and George Colli Signs
Matt Conway and George Colli Signs

Common interest communities are interesting legal creatures.

Most condo owners own both more and less than they may think (that’s another blog post for another day).

Displaying a political sign is a way for a homeowner to show support for a candidate.

Driving around my neighborhood I see signs everywhere: “Obama/Biden” “Annie Hornish” “George Colli” “John Kissel” “Matt Conway” “Vote No” “Vote Yes” and my favorite, “Bears for Barack.”

The problem with condos is that what appears to be a unit owners front lawn often isn’t their front lawn.

It is common for condo association bylaws to prohibit the display of signs on the lawns in front a unit or even in the windows of a unit.

There is no statutory right to display a political lawn sign in front of a Connecticut condo.

Click here to see how other states address the issue of displaying political signs at condos.