Delfino v. Vealencis
436 A.2d 27 (1980)

  • Vealencis lived on 20 acres of land that she owned 45/144ths of. The other 99/144ths was owned by the Delfinos. The land was co-owned as a tenancy in common.
    • Vealencis also operated a garbage business on the property.
  • The Delfinos wanted to sell off most of the land to a real estate developer. They petitioned the Court for a partition by sale to partition the property and give the proceeds of the sale to themselves and Vealencis.
    • In a tenancy in common, both parties owned a percentage of the entire land, so Delfino couldn’t sell off part of the land without Vealencis’ approval.
  • Vealencis made a motion for a judgment of partition in kind.
    • There are two kinds of partition that can be awarded by court:
      • Partition in kind is a division of the property itself, making two independent parcels of land.
      • Partition by sale constitutes a forced sale of the land, followed by division of the profits among the tenants.
      • If either party wants out, then a court must come up with a way to divide the property.
  • The Trial Court found for Delfino and ordered a partition by sale. Vealencis appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that there was no way to divide up the property without injuring the interests of one party or another, so partition by sale was the only equitable solution.
      • The Court reasoned that the presence of Vealencis’ stinky business would reduce the value of Delfino’s land.
        • Vealencis maintained that her business was not stinky.
  • The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed.
    • In general, courts have traditionally favored partition in kind over partition by sale, because partition by sale forces someone to sell their land without their consent.
    • The Connecticut Supreme Court found that the effect of Vealencis’ garbage business on the value of the remaining land was not sufficient to warrant a partition by sale.
      • The Court found that courts must consider the interests of all the tenants in common and not merely the economic gain of a single tenant. A partition by sale would force Vealencis to give up her home and would jeopardize her business.
  • Turns out, after this case was over and the land was partitioned, Vealencis’ land was worth about $46k, while Delfino was able to sell his land for over $725k. There are many uncertainties when trying to come up with an equitable solution for land partitioning.