In the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor of Connecticut issued several executive orders that closed or severely restricted the operation of various businesses, including bars and restaurants, in order to limit the spread of the virus. A restaurant and bar operator ceased paying the rent to its landlord on account of the impacts of such orders as well as the effects of the pandemic. The landlord exercised its rights and terminated the lease.
Then, the latter filed suit to recover the unpaid rent and damages resulting from the breach of the commercial lease. In reply to the landlord’s allegation, the tenant argued, inter alia, that it was entitled to relief from the lease agreement in light of the doctrine of impossibility, frustration of purpose and impracticability. However, the trial court held that such doctrine did not excuse the tenant and issued a judgement in favor of the landlord, awarding the latter damages for the tenants' breach of the lease agreement.
On 10 May 2022, the Supreme Court of Connecticut affirmed the trial court decision. The Court highlighted that, even under the most restrictive executive orders, use of the premises for restaurant purposes was not rendered factually impossible by the orders insofar as restaurants were permitted to provide curbside or takeout service, and the lease agreement did not prohibit curbside or takeout service.