Smith & Son, Inc. v. MacAulay, No. 1265.

Docket NºNo. 1265.
Citation196 A. 281
Case DateJanuary 13, 1938
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont
196 A. 281

SMITH & SON, Inc.,
v.
MacAULAY et al.

No. 1265.

Supreme Court of Vermont. Windsor.

Jan. 13, 1938.


196 A. 282

Appeal in Chancery, Windsor County; Allen R. Sturtevant, Chancellor.

Suit by Smith & Son, Inc., against Angus MacAulay and the Town of Hartford to enjoin collection of taxes. From the decree, the plaintiff appeals.

Reversed and remanded, with directions.

Argued befor POWERS, C. J., and SLACK, MOULTON, SHERBURNE, and BUTTLES, JJ.

Fred B. Thomas, of Randolph, and Wilson, Carver, Davis & Keyser, of Barre, for appellant. William S. Pingree and Raymond Trainor, both of White River Junction, for appellee Town of Hartford.

POWERS, Chief Justice.

The plaintiff, a corporation, seeks to enjoin the defendants from collecting certain taxes assessed by the town of Hartford on the former's grand list in that town in the years 1933 and 1934.

It is insisted by the plaintiff that such taxes were illegally assessed because the quadrennial appraisal of 1930, which formed the basis of the real estate taxes here in question, was illegal, and because the grand lists of 1933 and 1934 were illegal, all for the reasons and defects hereinafter discussed.

The chancellor, before whom the case was tried below, found that the defendant MacAulay, who was elected first constable of the defendant town in 1934 and again in 1935, and who had begun proceedings to collect the taxes in question by a sale of property, had thereafter removed from that town, leaving the office vacant. So the temporary injunction against him was made permanant. As to the town of Hartford, the chancellor ruled that the taxes were valid and collectible, and modified the preliminary injunction so as to allow the town to proceed anew to collect them by a legal officer, which modification was not to become operative until after the determination of this suit in this court. The plaintiff excepted and appealed.

Those who acted as listers in making the quadrennial appraisal of 1930 were Seth B. Wright, Leslie I. Walker, and Romaine A. Spafford. Walker was chosen at the annual meeting of the town in 1929, in this way: He was nominated as a candidate for the office of lister for a three-year term; no other name being presented, it was voted, viva voce, that George G. Nichols be instructed

196 A. 283

to cast one ballot for Walker for the office named. Such a ballot was cast, and Walker was declared elected lister for the term specified. In exactly the same way, Spafford was chosen as a lister for a three-year term at the annual town meeting in 1930.

Did the method pursued meet the requirements of the statute, and result in a valid election of these men as listers of the defendant town?

Among other things, it is provided by P. L. 3432, subd. 7, that at annual town meetings, there shall be chosen "one lister for a term of three years who shall be elected by ballot." It is also provided in that section that some, but not all, of the other town officers shall be elected by ballot.

So a proper construction of this statute will furnish the answer to the question propounded above.

The intention of the Legislature constitutes the law. Coral Gables, Inc., v. Christopher, 108 Vt. 414, 418, 189 A. 147, 109 A.L.R. 474. To effectuate that intention, the language of the Legislature may be enlarged or restrained, when necessary. Simonds v. Powers' Estate, 28 Vt. 354, 355. In construing statutes, courts must consider, not only their letter, but their reason and spirit. Town of Ryegate v. Wardsboro, 30 Vt. 746, 749. So it is that a thing which is within the intention of the Legislature, though not within its letter, is as much within the statute as if it was within the letter. Trustees of Caledonia County Grammar School v. Kent, 86 Vt. 151, 158, 84 A. 26. And, conversely, a thing which is not within the spirit of a statute, is not within the statute, though it is within the letter of it. Osgood v. Central Vermont Ry. Co., 77 Vt. 334, 337, 60 A. 137, 70 L.R.A. 930; In re Fulham's Estate, 96 Vt. 308, 317, 119 A. 433; Town of Hartland v. Damon's Estate, 103 Vt. 519, 528, 156 A. 518; Brammall v. Larose, 105 Vt. 345, 349, 165 A. 916.

We do not stop to consider whether the action of the defendant town comes within the letter of the statute, for we are well assured that it does not come within its spirit.

In statutory construction, the words used by the Legislature are to be taken in their ordinary sense, unless that would lead to an unintended result. Safford v. Houghton's Estate, 48 Vt. 236, 238, As applied to the case in hand, this rule requires us to construe the statute before us as meaning that the election of the officers therein specified shall be "by ballot, as that...

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15 practice notes
  • Union Twist Drill Co. v. Harvey, No. 1729.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 2, 1944
    ...the legality of every step in the taxing process from beginning to end. Smith & Son v. Town of Hartford, 109 Vt. 326, 332, 333, 196 A. 281; Richford Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v. Thomas, 111 Vt. 393, 402, 17 A.2d 239; Rowell v. School-Dist., 59 Vt. 658, 660, 10 A. 754. And, of course, a ......
  • State Highway Bd. v. Gates
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • October 20, 1938
    ...supra, at page 293, 115 A. 140. "The intention of the Legislature constitutes the law." Smith & Son v. MacAulay, 109 Vt. —, 196 A. 281, 283; Coral Gables, Inc., v. Christopher, 108 Vt. 414, 418, 189 A. 147, 109 A.L.R. 474; Town of Randolph v. Montgomery, 109 Vt. 130, 194 A. 48......
  • Bogie v. Town of Barnet, No. 128-69
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • April 7, 1970
    ...for taxes. The taxing authority stands before the law no better than the officer. Smith & Son v. Town of Hartford, 109 Vt. 326, 333, 196 A. 281. Moreover, the Chandler case also points out that the inconsistency in the positions of buyer and seller makes them so incompatible that they o......
  • Richford Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v. Thomas, No. 550.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 7, 1941
    ...7. That the notice of the tax sale was defective. In view of the recent case of Smith & Son, Inc., v. Town of Hartford, 109 Vt. 326, 196 A. 281, where, as here, the listers were chosen by voting viva voce to instruct a named person to cast one ballot for the candidate for the office, an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Union Twist Drill Co. v. Harvey, No. 1729.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 2, 1944
    ...establish the legality of every step in the taxing process from beginning to end. Smith & Son v. Town of Hartford, 109 Vt. 326, 332, 333, 196 A. 281; Richford Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v. Thomas, 111 Vt. 393, 402, 17 A.2d 239; Rowell v. School-Dist., 59 Vt. 658, 660, 10 A. 754. And, of course, ......
  • State Highway Bd. v. Gates
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • October 20, 1938
    ...Adm'r, v. Lang, supra, at page 293, 115 A. 140. "The intention of the Legislature constitutes the law." Smith & Son v. MacAulay, 109 Vt. —, 196 A. 281, 283; Coral Gables, Inc., v. Christopher, 108 Vt. 414, 418, 189 A. 147, 109 A.L.R. 474; Town of Randolph v. Montgomery, 109 Vt. 130, 194 A. ......
  • Bogie v. Town of Barnet, No. 128-69
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • April 7, 1970
    ...sold for taxes. The taxing authority stands before the law no better than the officer. Smith & Son v. Town of Hartford, 109 Vt. 326, 333, 196 A. 281. Moreover, the Chandler case also points out that the inconsistency in the positions of buyer and seller makes them so incompatible that they ......
  • Vt. Accident Ins. Co. v. Burns, No. 1049.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 8, 1944
    ...v. Church Members Relief Ass'n, 217 Ind. 58, 26 N.E.2d 51, 128 A.L.R. 635. See Smith & Son Inc. v. Town of Hartford, 109 Vt. 326, 330, 196 A. 281. The defendant is the holder of an administrative office created by the statute. His powers and duties with respect to admitting a foreign hospit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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