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Davidson Pabts, LLC v. Worsham

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 18, 2015

DAVIDSON PABTS, LLC
v.
LUCIEN WORSHAM

Session Date February 25, 2015

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 13-1487-IV Russell T. Perkins, Chancellor

Lucien C. Worsham, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert J. Notestine, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Davidson Pabts, LLC.

Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

OPINION

FRANK G. CLEMENT, JR., JUDGE

Lucien C. Worsham acquired real estate located at 1000 West Cahal Avenue in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee on April 21, 2006. The 2006 Warranty Deed provided the following information regarding the name and address of the new owner: "Lucien Worsham, 1000 West Cahal Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206." The deed also stated: "Send Tax Bills To: SAME AS NEW OWNER."

It is undisputed that Defendant never paid property taxes on the property located at 1000 Cahal Avenue (hereinafter "the property"). For his part, Mr. Worsham insists that he never received any tax notices because the property was unoccupied and that he resided at a different address at all times material to this action.

To satisfy delinquent taxes on the property owed to the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County ("Metro"), the property was sold by order of the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, at a delinquent tax sale on December 10, 2008.[1] The high bidder for the property was Davidson Pabst, LLC ("Plaintiff), and a Final Decree Confirming Sale to Plaintiff was entered on March 13, 2009 and duly recorded in the Register's Office for Davidson County, Tennessee, on April 9, 2009.

In October 2013, more than four years after acquiring the property at the tax sale, Plaintiff commenced this action to quiet title to the property. Mr. Worsham (hereinafter "Defendant") is the only defendant. In his answer he admitted that he had purchased the property in 2006, failed to pay any property taxes on it, and that Plaintiff obtained title to the property through the 2009 decree confirming the tax sale; however, he challenged the validity of the tax sale on due process grounds, claiming the sale was void because he never received notice of it. Importantly, Defendant does not contend that Metro never attempted to notify him of the tax sale. Instead, Defendant contends that Metro knew his home address and should have taken the additional step of attempting to notify him there. As Defendant stated in his Answer:

Defendant acknowledges that the mailing address on the [2006] deed to the property was incorrect. The "new owner" and the "send tax bills to" addresses were erroneously listed by the title company as the address of the aforementioned property which is a vacant lot with an unfinished garage. Accordingly, defendant never received any tax bills or notices. Defendant acknowledges fault in failing to correct the address on the deed and in unintentionally failing to pay the taxes. Defendant received no notification of, and had no knowledge of, the default and the impending sale of the property.
Defendant alleges that proper notification of the tax auction was not given . . . including, taking "additional steps to notify owner before sale could proceed". [sic] Furthermore, the defendant alleges that the court was in possession of defendant's actual home address and phone number . . . more than a month prior to the sale . . . . No effort was made to notify defendant at that address before or, especially, after the sale.

With his Answer, Defendant attached records from a tax lien inquiry indicating that a real estate loan services company had searched public records, discovered his home address, and provided it to Metro prior to the 2008 sale.

Subsequently, in his response to interrogatories Defendant stated that he learned of the tax sale on February 4, 2010. Tenn. Code Ann. ยง 67-5-2701(a) provides that previous owners may redeem real property "within one (1) year from the entry of the order confirming the sale." The order confirming this sale was entered on March 13, 2009; thus, Defendant had six weeks to redeem the property without litigation. Although time remained to redeem the property, Defendant stated in discovery ...


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