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Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County v. Delinquent Taxpayers

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 23, 2017

THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY
v.
DELINQUENT TAXPAYERS AS SHOWN ON THE 2006 REAL PROPERTY TAX RECORDS ET AL.

          Session: May 24, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 08-572-I Claudia Bonnyman, Chancellor

         Delinquent taxpayer appeals the denial of his Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02(3) motion to set aside a 2009 final decree confirming a tax sale of his property as void on due process grounds. Having determined that the doctrine of collateral estoppel precluded the delinquent taxpayer from relitigating the issue of notice, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed.

          Lucien Worsham, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Catherine Jane Pham, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

          Frank G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Richard H. Dinkins and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          FRANK G. CLEMENT, JR., P.J., M.S.

         The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County ("Metro") commenced this action against Lucien Worsham and other taxpayers on March 7, 2008, to collect delinquent taxes owed for 2006. As relevant on appeal, Metro sought to collect delinquent taxes on real property owned by Lucien Worsham located at 1000 West Cahal Avenue in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee (hereinafter "the property").

         It is undisputed that Mr. Worsham never paid taxes on the property. To satisfy the delinquent taxes owed to Metro, the property was sold by order of the Davidson County Chancery Court at a delinquent tax sale on December 10, 2008. The high bidder for the property was Davidson Pabts, LLC ("Pabts"), and a final decree confirming the sale to Pabts 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, Pabts filed an action against Mr. Worsham to quiet title to the property. As he is attempting to do here, Mr. Worsham challenged the validity of the tax sale on due process grounds. Pabts prevailed at trial and on appeal in establishing that it possessed sole title to the property. Davidson Pabts, LLC v. Worsham, No. M2014-01061-COA-R3-CV, 2015 WL 4115174, at *6 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 18, 2015), appeal denied (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2015).[1]

         Six years after the final decree confirming the tax sale was entered by the trial court in the first action, Mr. Worsham filed the motion at issue in this appeal. As he had done in the action to quiet title, Mr. Worsham contended the 2009 decision was "void for lack of personal jurisdiction due to constitutionally inadequate notice." In his Rule 60.02(3) motion, Mr. Worsham also repeated the claim that he never received notice of the delinquent tax suit, the impending sale of his property, or the final decree confirming the sale to Pabts.

         In response to the Rule 60.02(3) motion, Metro insisted that Mr. Worsham's motion should be denied because, inter alia, he had previously litigated the issue of notice in the action to quiet title and received an unfavorable adjudication, which was affirmed by this court's ruling in Davidson Pabts, LLC v. Worsham. Metro argued that Mr. Worsham, through his Rule 60.02(3) motion, was seeking to evade this court's previous ruling in Davidson Pabts, LLC v. Worsham affirming the trial court's judgment quieting title to the property in favor of Pabts.

         Following a hearing on the Rule 60.02(3) motion, the trial court entered an order denying Mr. Worsham's request to set aside the tax sale on grounds that Mr. Worsham's claims were barred by the doctrine of res ...


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