May 21, 2019
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Superior Court, Judicial District of New London, Robert F.
S. Bayer, Hartford, with whom was David R. Roth, New Haven,
for the appellant (defendant).
L. Langhammer, Norwich, for the appellee (plaintiff).
C. J., and Keller and Noble, Js.
Conn.App. 838] In this action to collect unpaid personal
property taxes, the defendant, WMS Gaming, Inc., appeals from
the summary judgment as to liability only rendered by the
trial court in favor of the plaintiff, the town of Ledyard,
awarding it attorneys fees pursuant to General Statutes §
12-161a. The defendants sole claim on appeal
is that the trial court improperly concluded that the
defendant was liable for attorneys fees incurred by the
plaintiff while litigating a collateral action in federal
court in addition to the fees incurred while pursuing
this action. Specifically, it argues that the court
improperly determined that the fees incurred in the
collateral action were "as a result of and directly
related to" this collection action within the meaning of
§ 12-161a. We agree and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of
the trial court.
Conn.App. 839] The following facts and procedural history are
relevant to this appeal. On August 3, 2006, two years prior
to commencing the present action, the Mashantucket Pequot
Tribal Nation (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 property taxes on slot machines owned by
Atlantic City Coin & Slot Co. (AC Coin) and leased to the
Tribal Nation, for use in its gaming operations. In that
complaint, the Tribal Nation alleged that the plaintiff
lacked the authority to impose the property tax because such
taxation is preempted by federal regulation of Indian gaming
pursuant to both the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C.
§ § 2701-2721 (IGRA), and the Final Mashantucket Pequot
Gaming Procedures, 56 Fed.Reg. 24996 (May 31, 1991),
and that the taxation was an illegal interference with the
Tribal Nations sovereignty. The present action was filed on
June 23, 2008, to collect unpaid personal property taxes for
gaming equipment owned by the defendant and leased to the
Tribal Nation for its gaming operations.
Supreme Court, in a previous appeal from the judgment of this
court, recited the following additional relevant facts and
procedural history: "[T]he plaintiff [in the present
action] sought $18,251.23 in unpaid personal property taxes,
plus costs, interest, and penalties. ...