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LLC v. Taylor

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Kent

September 26, 2018

776 HARTFORD AVENUE, LLC MOBILE HOME PARK, Plaintiff,
v.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, Defendant.

          Kent County Superior Court

          Raymond J. Pezzullo, Jr., Esq. For Plaintiff:

          Mark Sales, Esq. For Defendant:

          DECISION

          MCGUIRL, J.

         Before the Court is the appeal from a judgment of the District Court ordering Elizabeth Taylor (Defendant or Tenant) to pay 776 Hartford Avenue, LLC Mobile Home Park (Plaintiff or Landlord) $2806.45 in rental monies. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L.1956 § 9-12-10.

         I Facts and Travel

         A trial was held over three days on April 13, 2018, April 20, 2018, and April 24, 2018. Plaintiff called three total witnesses and Defendant called four witnesses. Katherine Duggan- owner and manager of Plaintiff-testified on behalf of the Plaintiff. Plaintiff also called two witnesses-Angelo Palazzo, an electrician who has performed electrical services for Plaintiff, and Christopher Brogan-who testified to the issue of damages. The Defendant testified on her own behalf. The defense also called three additional witnesses-Michael Carnevale, Building Inspector and Zoning Official in the Town of North Providence; Joshua Lebeau, the owner and operator of Home Inspection by JML, a home inspection company; and Steven Briggs-who primarily testified to the issue of damages.

         A Testimony of Katherine Duggan

         Katherine Duggan is the owner and manager of Plaintiff. Plaintiff rents a lot of land to Defendant where Defendant has placed her mobile home. As the owner and manager of Plaintiff, it is Ms. Duggan's responsibility to collect rent and execute evictions. Ms. Duggan testified that Defendant owns a mobile home that sits on lot seven (7) at 776 Hartford Avenue. Ms. Duggan also testified that she sent notice to Defendant on May 1, 2017, that an increase in rent would be imposed sixty days from that date.

         Ms. Duggan sent Defendant notice on September 27, 2017, with respect to arrearage in rent. Ms. Duggan testified that, as of that date, Defendant was in arrears on her rent for a total of $1500-reflecting Defendant's unpaid rent for three previous months. Ms. Duggan then established that, since notice of arrearage had been sent to Defendant, rent had not been paid and that rent was owed to Plaintiff from July 2017 through April 2018.

         On cross-examination, it was determined that Ms. Duggan became the owner of Plaintiff in November of 2016. Ms. Duggan testified that once she became owner of the mobile home park, Defendant indicated to her that she was having problems with her mobile home due to the trailer not being level. Ms. Duggan testified that Defendant believed the issue regarding the leveling of the mobile home was due to the absence of a concrete slab underneath the trailer.

         Ms. Duggan was aware that Defendant had brought the leveling issue to the attention of the former owner. Ms. Duggan testified that she did not make any promises to repair the trailer to Defendant, but did indicate that she would-and did-have someone evaluate the trailer in the spring of 2017. Upon inspection, Ms. Duggan testified that she told Defendant that she would not install a concrete slab underneath Defendant's trailer. Ms. Duggan then testified that Defendant contacted her and indicated that she would not pay rent-beginning in July of 2017- due to the issue with the leveling of the trailer. Ms. Duggan also suggested that Defendant's failure to pay rent was due in part to her inability to afford the rent. However, this testimony was contradicted by the fact that Defendant had deposited money in an escrow account every month in the amount due for rent.

         Ms. Duggan then testified that she was aware of Defendant's claim that her trailer was becoming structurally damaged and that Defendant sent her a detailed account of said damages. Specifically, Ms. Duggan testified that she was aware of cracks in the wall of the trailer, as well as decreased water pressure in the trailer.

         B Testimony of ...


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