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Letter: Payment, with a catch

Civil litigation is at a crossroads in New Hampshire. As a result of an election ballot-counting error by Laconia officials, a petition was filed with the court in order to ensure that every vote cast be counted. (See Belknap County Superior Court Docket No. 211-2013-CV-00308) The plaintiff prevailed and a recount was conducted, correcting the errors.

The plaintiff’s request for an award of costs was granted. Out-of-pocket expenses for the plaintiff amounted to $280.76. However, the city of Laconia would reimburse the prevailing party the $280.76 only upon completion of an IRS W-9 form. On Jan. 21, as a result of a rehearing, an updated order was issued regarding the payment. It was now “subject to the condition of the submission of a completed W-9 form to the defendant. If the plaintiff does not wish to submit the form, he can forego the award of costs.”

This precedent, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will mandate that every award of cost will be conditional on the submission of a W-9 (Social Security number). The attorney and the client will have to submit Social Security numbers to separate income for services rendered (Billable expense) from non-income (reimbursement) for expenses paid by after tax dollars? How much of Laconia’s property tax dollars will the city council spend to keep the $280.76?

THOMAS A. TARDIF

Laconia

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