• Picky Board of Assessment Appeals Reversed
  • April 16, 2015 | Author: Tiffany Kouri Spinella
  • Law Firm: Pullman & Comley, LLC - Hartford Office
  • When Gibbs Oil Company filed an appeal to the Rocky Hill Board of Assessment Appeals (“BAA”) to challenge the assessment of its property, it faxed its application on February 20, 2014, the last day to file the appeal, at 4:32 p.m. The BAA did not default Gibbs for filing two minutes later than the office’s closing time; rather, it rejected the application because it violated the assessor’s “requirement” that an original signature be present. The BAA refused to schedule a hearing.

    Employing an unusual procedure, Gibbs filed a mandamus action to require the BAA to hear its appeal. Recognizing the unusual nature of this proceeding in property assessment matters, the Superior Court nevertheless rejected the BAA’s reasoning that an original blue ink signature was required. In doing so, it referred to a section of the Connecticut General Statutes which does not define the word “signature” but simply requires that the appeal application be signed.

    Noting that other statutes require original signatures and that the tax appeal statute did not, the court ruled “the faxed application substantially complies with the statutory requirement of a written appeal bearing the signature of the property owner . . . . The board should not have rejected it for a lack of original signature in blue ink.”

    Although the BAA did not base its refusal on Gibbs’s two minute tardiness, in court it attempted to do so even though Gibbs’s appeal had been received “at closing time.” The court did not allow it to present this argument after the fact.

    The mandamus application was granted and the BAA was ordered to hold a hearing on Gibbs’s overvaluation claim.

    Gibbs Oil Co. LTD. Partnership v. Town of Rocky Hill, et al., 2014 WL 7671674 (Huddleston, J.) December 17, 2014.