Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Town of Ledyard v. WMS Gaming, Inc.

Supreme Court of Connecticut

September 4, 2018

TOWN OF LEDYARD
v.
WMS GAMING, INC.

          Argued February 28, 2018

         Procedural History

         Action to recover unpaid personal property taxes, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London, where the parties entered into a stipulated agreement; thereafter, the court, Vacchelli, J., granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to liability and denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment as to liability, and the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, DiPentima, C. J., and Beach, Alvord, Sheldon and Prescott, Js., which granted the plaintiff's motion to dismiss the appeal, from which the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Reversed; further proceedings.

          Aaron S. Bayer, with whom was David R. Roth, for the appellant (defendant).

          Lloyd L. Langhammer, for the appellee (plaintiff).

          Palmer, McDonald, Robinson, Mullins and Kahn, Js. [*]

          OPINION

          ROBINSON, J.

         The sole issue in this certified appeal is whether the trial court's determination that General Statutes§ 12-161a, which requires that a property owner pay the attorney's fees of a municipality in actions brought to collect delinquent personal property taxes, entitled a municipality to an award for the attorney's fees it incurred in a related federal action is an appealable final judgment under our decisions in Hylton v. Gunter, 313 Conn. 472, 97 A.3d 970 (2014), and Paranteau v. DeVita, 208 Conn. 515, 544 A.2d 634 (1988), when the trial court has not yet determined the amount of those fees. The defendant, WMS Gaming, Inc., appeals, upon our granting of its petition for certification, [1] from the judgment of the Appellate Court granting the motion to dismiss the defendant's appeal filed by the plaintiff, the town of Ledyard. Ledyard v. WMS Gaming, Inc., 171 Conn.App. 624, 625, 157 A.3d 1215 (2017). On appeal, the defendant relies on the bright line rule set forth in Paranteau, namely, that ‘‘a judgment on the merits is final for purposes of appeal even though the recoverability or amount of attorney's fees for the litigation remains to be determined''; Paranteau v. DeVita, supra, 523; and contends that the Appellate Court improperly dismissed its appeal for lack of a final judgment by relying on footnote 11 of this court's decision in Paranteau, which states that a ‘‘supplemental postjudgment award of attorney's fees becomes final and appealable . . . not when there is a finding of liability for such fees, but when the amount of fees are conclusively determined. A finding as to liability only, prior to a determination on the issue of damages, is not a final judgment from which an appeal lies.'' Id., 524 n.11. Guided by our analysis of Paranteau and Hylton, we agree with the defendant, and, accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court and remand the case to that court for further proceedings.

         The opinion of the Appellate Court aptly sets forth the following relevant facts and procedural history. ‘‘In 2008, the plaintiff commenced the underlying action to collect unpaid personal property taxes that it had imposed on slot machines that the defendant owned and leased to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (Tribal Nation) for use in its gaming facilities. . . . [T]he plaintiff sought $18, 251.23 in unpaid personal property taxes, plus costs, interest, and penalties. In addition, the plaintiff sought attorney's fees pursuant to . . . § 12-161a.

         ‘‘Shortly after the plaintiff had commenced the underlying state action, the Tribal Nation filed an action in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut challenging the authority of the state of Connecticut and the plaintiff to impose the taxes at issue in the present state action. Although it was not a party to the federal action commenced by the Tribal Nation, the defendant filed a motion to stay the present state action pending the outcome of the federal action, which the trial court, Martin, J., granted.

         ‘‘On March 27, 2012, the District Court ruled on cross motions for summary judgment filed in the . . . federal action. The District Court, determining that the authority of the state and the plaintiff to impose the taxes was preempted by federal law, granted the Tribal Nation's motion for summary judgment and denied separate motions for summary judgment filed by the plaintiff and the state . . . . See Mashantucket Pequot Tribe v. Ledyard, Docket No. 3:06CV1212 (WWE), 2012 WL 1069342, *12 (D. Conn. March 27, 2012), rev'd, 722 F.3d 457 (2d Cir. 2013). On July 15, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the District Court's judgment, concluding that the authority of the state and the plaintiff to impose the taxes was not preempted by federal law. See Mashantucket Pequot Tribe v. Ledyard, 722 F.3d 457, 477 (2d Cir. 2013).

         ‘‘After the proceedings had resumed in the present state action, the parties executed a stipulation. Under the stipulation, the parties agreed that the defendant had tendered payment to the plaintiff for all outstanding taxes, accrued interest, and accrued penalties at issue. They further agreed that the plaintiff was entitled to reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in the underlying state action, the amount of which would be determined by the trial court and the payment of which would be accepted by the plaintiff as satisfaction of all of the taxes, interest, penalties, attorney's fees, and costs recoverable by the plaintiff with respect to the underlying state action. They disputed, however, whether the trial court could also find the defendant liable for attorney's fees incurred by the plaintiff in defense of the federal action commenced by the Tribal Nation to which the defendant was not a party (federal action attorney's fees). The parties agreed to submit to the trial court the issue of whether the defendant was liable for the federal action attorney's fees.

         ‘‘After executing the stipulation, the parties filed . . . motions for summary judgment as to liability only with respect to the federal action attorney's fees. On October 6, 2016, the trial court, Vacchelli, J., issued its memorandum of decision granting the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, denying the defendant's motion for summary judgment, and rendering . . . judgment as to liability only in favor of the plaintiff with respect to the federal action attorney's fees. The trial court concluded that the defendant was liable for the federal action attorney's fees pursuant to § 12-161a. The trial court further stated that the plaintiff could file a motion for attorney's fees within thirty days and that a hearing would be scheduled thereafter to determine the amount of the attorney's fees to which the plaintiff is entitled. Shortly thereafter, on October 11, 2016, the plaintiff filed a motion for attorney's fees.

         ‘‘On October 25, 2016, [before] the trial court [scheduled] a hearing on the plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees, the defendant appealed [from] the trial court's decision with respect to the federal action attorney's fees [to the Appellate ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.