Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Flanagan v. DuMont

Supreme Court of Vermont

November 4, 2016

Edward F. Flanagan
v.
Nancy duMont (Flanagan)

         On Appeal from Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Family Division Dennis R. Pearson, J.

          Peter G. Anderson of Anderson & Associates, Stowe, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Cynthia L. Broadfoot of Broadfoot, Attorneys at Law, Burlington, for Defendant-Appellant.

          PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund, Robinson and Eaton, JJ.

          ROBINSON, J.

         ¶ 1. This appeal arises from a dispute regarding the parties' obligations with respect to several tax liens discovered post-divorce in light of two hold-harmless provisions in a final divorce decree. Wife contends that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to enforce the hold-harmless and indemnification provisions and failing to address the parties' respective obligations with respect to the tax liens. We agree, and accordingly reverse and remand so the trial court can address wife's claims under Article 13 of the parties' divorce decree.

         ¶ 2. The parties' final divorce decree, entered on March 26, 2013, was based on a partial settlement agreement and the court's order resolving the remaining contested matters after a contested hearing. Articles 8, 11, and 13 are particularly relevant to this appeal.

         ¶ 3. Article 8 awarded wife "sole use, ownership, and possession" of a property on Taber Hill Road in Stowe, Vermont (the property) free of any marital interests of husband. Wife was obligated to refinance the outstanding mortgage loan on the property to remove husband from any liability by February 26, 2014. In connection with this refinance, husband was obligated to "execute and deliver appropriate documents of conveyance to [wife] to convey all right, title and interest in the property." If wife was unable to refinance, then she was required to immediately sell the property at a price agreeable to both parties. In the event that wife failed to make any mortgage loan payments on the property, after ten days husband was authorized to make the outstanding loan payment and offset any sums owed to wife for spousal maintenance and child support.

         ¶ 4. Article 11 gave husband sole ownership of his business, The Dayboat Fish Company LLC. Husband was solely responsible for "all liabilities in connection with the business, " and was required to "hold [wife] harmless and indemnify her against the payment of any monies and obligations or expenses in connection [with the business] which [wife] shall be obligated to pay to third parties by virtue of [husband's] failure to comply with the terms of this paragraph, including reasonable counsel fees and costs."

         ¶ 5. Finally, Article 13 allocated various debts of the parties. In addition to specifically addressing certain outstanding debts, it included the following general provisions:

[Wife] shall be solely responsible for any and all debts or obligations, including credit cards debts [sic], which are in her name alone.
[Husband] shall be solely responsible for any and all debts or obligations, including credit cards debts [sic], which are in his name alone.
Neither party shall incur or contract any debt, charge, obligation or liability whatsoever for which the other party, his or her legal representatives or his or her property or estate is or may become liable, and shall indemnify and hold the other party harmless of all loss, expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees) and damages in connection with or arising out of a breach of the foregoing.

         The provision did not mention any outstanding tax obligations.

         ¶ 6. The trial court found that the events giving rise to this particular dispute began in February 2014, when wife was unable to refinance the outstanding mortgage on the property and accordingly listed the property for sale. Wife entered into a purchase and sale agreement with a buyer in September 2014 at a sale price of $220, 000. This sale price would have been sufficient to discharge the outstanding mortgage and provide wife with net proceeds of about $31, 000. The closing for the purchase and sale of the property was to take place in November 2014. However, during the title search of the property, the buyers discovered that both the IRS and the State of Vermont Tax Department had outstanding tax liens on the property.

         ¶ 7. The first IRS lien was recorded in the Stowe land records in November 25, 2013, in the amount of $10, 841 for alleged underpayment of 2011 income taxes. The second was recorded on January 1, 2014, in the amount of $3949 for alleged underpayment of 2010 income taxes. Both IRS liens were recorded as against husband only. The family division noted that the parties filed their federal taxes jointly for the 2010 tax year, but that it was not clear how they filed in 2011. As for the state tax liens, the first was recorded on May 15, 2014, in the amount of $9237, and the second was recorded on August 29, 2014, in the amount of $1055. Both of the Vermont tax liens were against "[husband]/Dayboat Fish Co LLC" and were for sales and use taxes allegedly not paid or underpaid by husband's business.

         ¶ 8. The family division found the record to be "murky and inconclusive" regarding whether wife knew previously about the IRS tax claims. Wife testified at the hearing that she looked at the land records when she originally listed the property, but that it did not occur to her that she should be looking for outstanding liens on the land. The family division noted that wife's claim she was "totally ignorant" of at least the 2010 tax lien was not credible because she filed an application for "Discharge of Property from Federal Tax Lien" in January 2014, and had filed with the IRS a "Request for Innocent Spouse Relief" as to the 2010 tax deficiency in September 2013. However, it also found that husband did not inform wife about the existence of any of the liens and did not inform wife that he was having tax issues, even though he had admitted the state deficiencies and entered into a payment plan ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.