Billewicz v. Town of Fair Haven, 21-AP-244

Citation21-AP-244
Case DateFebruary 11, 2022
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Johnathan Billewicz et al.*
v.

Town of Fair Haven

No. 21-AP-244

Supreme Court of Vermont

February 11, 2022


In the case title, an asterisk (*) indicates an appellant and a double asterisk (**) indicates a cross-appellant. Decisions of a three-justice panel are not to be considered as precedent before any tribunal.

APPEALED FROM: Superior Court, Rutland Unit, Civil Division CASE NO. 21-CV-01098 Trial Judge: Helen M. Toor

ENTRY ORDER

In the above-entitled cause, the Clerk will enter:

Plaintiffs appeal from the trial court's summary judgment decision concluding that plaintiffs' claims were barred by claim preclusion. We affirm.

The factual background to this case is provided in this Court's prior decision involving these parties. Billewicz v. Town of Fair Haven, 2021 VT 20 [hereinafter Billewicz I]. Plaintiffs are former owners of four parcels of land in the Town of Fair Haven. Based on delinquent taxes from 2011 to 2013, the Town commenced tax-sale procedures in February 2014. Plaintiffs did not pay the delinquent taxes and the Town purchased the properties at a tax sale in March 2014. Plaintiffs did not exercise their right of redemption and on April 1, 2015, the Town's tax collector executed deeds transferring the properties to the Town. The deeds were recorded in the Town's land records, but the reports of sale were not recorded until November 2017.

Plaintiffs filed suit in March 2018 against the Town, arguing that the tax deeds were void because the tax collector did not record the reports of sale as provided by statute. See 32 V.S.A. § 5255 (requiring report of sale to be filed within thirty days after sale). In that suit, plaintiffs asserted claims of quiet title, trespass to real property and chattel, invasion of privacy, and conversion. The trial court concluded that the claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations in 32 V.S.A. § 5294(4), which pertains to taxpayer suits questioning the validity of acts of the tax collector, and granted the Town summary judgment. On appeal, this Court affirmed, rejecting plaintiffs' argument that their claims were actions against a grantee and subject to the three-year statute of limitations in 32 V.S.A. § 5263 and instead holding that the one-year statute of limitations in 32 V.S.A. § 5294 applied and had run before plaintiffs filed their action. Billewicz I, 2021 VT 20, ¶ 30. Plaintiffs filed a motion to reargue and this Court denied the motion in May 2021.

Shortly thereafter, plaintiffs filed this suit against the Town, again alleging that the Town failed to record the report of sale as required by 32 V.S.A. § 5255, and asserting claims for

1

negligence, trespass to real property and chattel, invasion of privacy, and conversion. The Town moved for summary judgment, asserting that plaintiffs' claims were barred by claim...

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