Walther v. Carrothers Constr. Co. of Ark. (Majority, with Dissenting)Annotate this Case
The City of Russellville created the City Corporation to operate, maintain, and improve the city’s municipal waterworks system. The City Corporation managed a water treatment plant that provided potable drinking water to the residents of Russellville. In 1998, Carrothers Construction Company of Arkansas, LLC (Carrothers) constructed an expansion of the water-treatment plant. Carrothers purchased several items of machinery and equipment for the project. Carrothers installed this machinery and equipment for an extensive three-phase water treatment process at the Russellville plant. In 2004, the auditor for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) conducted an audit of Carrothers’s records pertaining to its activities and purchases in 1999 and 2000 in performing its contractual obligations to expand the Russellville water treatment plant. The auditor determined that Carrothers purchased personal property from out-of-state vendors and that these purchases were subjected to Arkansas’s state and local use taxes, plus interest. Carrothers objected to the assessments, resulting in a lawsuit to challenge the tax assessments, and to demand refund of additional use taxes paid. Carrothers filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that, as a matter of law, it qualified for a manufacturing exemption. In 2015, the circuit court granted Carrothers’s motion for summary judgment and ruled that Carrothers was entitled to the manufacturing exemption. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "Carrothers acquired materials and constructed a facility to treat and clean the water, but it did not manufacture the water. Thus, Carrothers is not entitled to the manufacturing exemption," and therefore not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.