Delfino v. Vealencis

In Delfino v. Vealencis, 181 Conn. 533, 436 A.2d 27 (Conn. 1980), two plaintiffs owned a 20.5 acre tract of land with the defendant. The defendant used part of the property for her home and a garbage removal business. The plaintiffs filed an action to force a sale of the property so that they could use it to develop residential properties. The trial court concluded that a partition in kind could not be had without great prejudice to the parties, and that the highest and best use of the property was through development as residential property. The trial court therefore ordered that the property be sold at auction. The defendant appealed. The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed for the following reasons: "The trial court's . . . observations relating to the effect of the defendant's business on the probable fair market value of the proposed residential lots . . . are not dispositive of the issue. It is the interests of all of the tenants in common that the court must consider; and not merely the economic gain of one tenant, or a group of tenants. The trial court failed to give due consideration to the fact . . . that the defendant has made her home on the property; and that she derives her livelihood from the operation of a business on this portion of the property, as her family before her has for many years. A partition by sale would force the defendant to surrender her home and, perhaps, would jeopardize her livelihood. It is under just such circumstances, which include the demonstrated practicability of a physical division of the property, that the wisdom of the law's preference for partition in kind is evident." (Delfino, 436 A.2d at 32-33.)