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The Connecticut Supreme Court and the decision in a landlord-tenant case that specifically addressed the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted by Jordan Tapia | May 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

The Connecticut Supreme Court made an important decision in a landlord-tenant case that specifically addressed the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling also resolved the issue of determining who carries the burden of proof when it comes to the duty to mitigate damages, according to JDSUPRA.

On May 10, 2022, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a significant decision in AGW Sono Partners, LLC v. Downtown Soho, LLC, et al., addressing COVID-19-related defenses raised by commercial tenants and resolving the issue of burden of proof regarding the duty to mitigate damages.

In the case, a restaurant and bar operator tenant stopped paying rent due to the closure of its business mandated by the Governor's Executive Orders during the pandemic. The landlord terminated the lease and filed a lawsuit to collect unpaid rent and damages. The tenant asserted defenses including impossibility and frustration of purpose. The Trial Court ruled in favor of the landlord, finding that the tenant was not excused from rental obligations based on these defenses but did not award full damages due to insufficient information on mitigation efforts.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Trial Court's decision, stating that the Executive Orders and pandemic did not make lease performance impossible. The Court emphasized that the tenant could have provided curbside or takeout service, which was not prohibited by the lease. Regarding frustration of purpose, the Court concluded that the lease's purpose was not frustrated by the Executive Orders or the pandemic, highlighting the absence of limitations on certain types of dining and takeout.

Additionally, the Supreme Court addressed the burden of proof on mitigation of damages. It clarified that when a tenant breaches a lease, the tenant bears the burden of proving that the landlord failed to undertake commercially reasonable efforts to mitigate damages. The Court reversed and remanded the case to the Trial Court for further proceedings on damages.

Overall, the Connecticut Supreme Court's decision clarified the application of COVID-19 defenses and the burden of proof in landlord-tenant disputes, providing important guidance in navigating such issues.

Cullina, M (2023)

About the Author

Jordan Tapia

Phone: (212) 566-6780 Email: [email protected] Jordan Tapia, a partner at our law firm, is known as a fierce litigator. She has successfully represented various small businesses facing eviction and has helped many come to an amicable resolution with their landlord, often avoiding litigati...


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