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Property Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Zigadto, Janet


SC19917 - Ledyard v. WMS Gaming, Inc. (Personal property taxes; attorney's fees; "The sole issue in this certified appeal is whether the trial court's determination that General Statutes ยง 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, 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.")