The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Landlord/Tenant Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Zigadto, Janet


SC20625 - AGW Sono Partners, LLC v. Downtown Soho, LLC (Commercial lease; "In the earliest months of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Governor Ned Lamont issued numerous executive orders that closed or severely restricted the operation of various businesses, including bars and restaurants, in order to stem the spread of the virus at that time. This appeal requires us to consider how those executive orders affected the enforceability of a commercial lease agreement for premises in South Norwalk that the defendants, Downtown Soho, LLC (Downtown Soho), and Edin Ahmetaj, leased from the plaintiff, AGW Sono Partners, LLC, for their fine dining restaurant. The defendants appeal, and the plaintiff cross appeals, from the judgment of the trial court awarding the plaintiff $200,308.76 in damages for the defendants' breach of that lease agreement. In their appeal, the defendants claim, inter alia, that the trial court incorrectly concluded that the common-law doctrines of impossibility and frustration of purpose did not relieve them of their obligations under the lease agreement, given the damaging economic effects of the various executive orders on their restaurant's business. In its cross appeal, the plaintiff claims that, in calculating the damages award, the trial court improperly allocated the burden of proof in determining whether the plaintiff had mitigated its damages when it leased the premises to a new tenant at a lesser rent than the defendants had paid. We conclude that the trial court correctly determined that the economic effects of the executive orders did not relieve the defendants of their obligations under the lease agreement but that a new damages hearing is required because the trial court improperly allocated the burden of proof as to mitigation in determining the damages award. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.")