Cooley Chevrolet Co. v. Town of West Haven

Decision Date03 February 1959
Citation146 Conn. 165,148 A.2d 327
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesCOOLEY CHEVROLET COMPANY v. TOWN OF WEST HAVEN (two cases). Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut

T. Holmes Bracken, New Haven, for appellant (plaintiff) in each case

John G. Cicala, West Haven, for appellee (defendant) in each case.

Before DALY, C. J., and BALDWIN, KING, MURPHY and MELLITZ, JJ.

MELLITZ, Associate Justice.

These appeals involve the validity of a tax assessment by the town of West Haven against the plaintiff for personal property, in the form of automobiles, owned by the plaintiff and stored in West Haven during the year September 1, 1954, to August 31, 1955. One appeal, under what is now § 12-118 of the 1958 Revision, is from the refusal fo the board of tax review to reduce the valuation of the property; the other, under § 12-119, claims that the plaintiff is entitled to a reduction in the assessment because it was manifestly excessive and made in disregard of the statutory provisions governing the valuation of personal property. The latter appeal was dismissed by the trial court on the ground that the plaintiff failed to prove the essentials required for relief under § 12-119. The remedy given by this statute is not alternative to an appeal to the board of tax review and from it to the courts under § 12-118. Cohn v. City and Town of Hartford, 130 Conn. 699, 702, 37 A.2d 237, 152 A.L.R. 604. The record fails to disclose any basis for a claim for relief on any ground other than that there was an overvaluation of the plaintiff's property by the assessors. The remedy for that is an appeal to the board of tax review. Rev.1958, §§ 12-111, 12-113. The dismissal of the second case was proper.

The appeal under § 12-118 questions the correctness of an assessment wherein the average number of automobiles kept in West Haven by the plaintiff during the tax year was determined to be 225. The total assessment was $315,000, computed on a valuation of $1400 per automobile. This $1400 valuation is not questioned. The dispute relates to the number of automobiles the assessors determined the plaintiff had on hand during the year. The facts, with such corrections in the finding as are warranted, are as follows: The plaintiff is engaged in the business of selling automobiles and has its principal location in New Haven. It maintained two locations in West Haven for storage of automobiles. An assessment list for September 1, 1955, was signed and filed for the plaintiff by an attorney who was duly authorized but who had no knowledge of the number of automobiles the plaintiff had on hand. He was not instructed to insert any figures on the list, and he inserted none. The plaintiff did not provide the assessors with any information concerning the number or valuation of the automobiles it had on hand during the year. The chief assessor of the town had occasion to pass the plaintiff's storage locations daily, and most of the time he observed them to be fully occupied by new automobiles. On four separate occasions in 1955, the assessors made a physical count of the automobiles stored by the plaintiff in West Haven, and found 237 on March 23, 235 on June 10, 225 on August 17, and 217 on August 31. The plaintiff was assessed $315,000 upon the basis of an average of 225 automobiles on hand during the year. Included in the records maintained by the plaintiff in the operation of its business are monthly statements showing the automobiles on hand at the end of each month. These statements are used by the plaintiff as a basis for its federal tax returns. A summary of them for the year in question showed a monthly average of 155 automobiles on hand, including new automobiles in the plaintiff's place of business in New Haven. During each month, in the course of its business, the plaintiff buys and sells automobiles.

The statute requires that the assessment shall be made upon the average amount of goods kept on hand during the year. Rev.1958, § 12-58. The position of the plaintiff is that as a matter of standard accounting practice the...

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14 cases
  • United Church of Christ v. Town of West Hartford, 13127
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 29, 1988
    ...308, 160 A.2d 751 (1960); Burritt Mutual Savings Bank v. New Britain, 146 Conn. 669, 154 A.2d 608 (1959); Cooley Chevrolet Co. v. West Haven, 146 Conn. 165, 148 A.2d 327 (1959); Forman Schools, Inc. v. Litchfield, 14 Conn.Sup. 444, rev'd on other grounds, 134 Conn. 1, 54 A.2d 710 (1947)." F......
  • Northeast Datacom, Inc. v. City of Wallingford
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 15, 1989
    ...in listing and valuing his property. Ponemah Mills v. Lisbon, 89 Conn. 435, 438, 94 A. 919 [1915]." Cooley Chevrolet Co. v. West Haven, 146 Conn. 165, 169, 148 A.2d 327 (1959). These plaintiffs, however, have also appealed the assessor's valuation pursuant to General Statutes § 12-119. 12 H......
  • United Church of Christ v. Town of West Hartford
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • March 3, 1987
    ...308, 160 A.2d 751 (1960); Burritt Mutual Savings Bank v. New Britain, 146 Conn. 669, 154 A.2d 608 (1959); Cooley Chevrolet Co. v. West Haven, 146 Conn. 165, 148 A.2d 327 (1959); Forman Schools, Inc. v. Litchfield, 14 Conn.Sup. 444, rev'd on other grounds, 134 Conn. 1, 54 A.2d 710 (1947)." F......
  • Konover v. Town of West Hartford
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 26, 1997
    ...Conn. 403, 408-409, 151 A.2d 700 (1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 929, 80 S.Ct. 367, 4 L.Ed.2d 352 (1960); Cooley Chevrolet Co. v. West Haven, 146 Conn. 165, 166, 148 A.2d 327 (1959). In a § 12-117a appeal, the trial court performs a two step function. "The burden, in the first instance, is u......
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