FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-00597,
DIVISION "F" Honorable Christopher J. Bruno, Judge
Freedman JONAH FREEDMAN LAW, LLC COUNSEL FOR
Oliver Person ATTORNEY AT LAW COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Regina Bartholomew
Woods, Judge Paula A. Brown).
A. Brown Judge.
matter involves the validity of title to property purchased
in a tax sale ("the Property").
Defendants-Appellants, the Unopened Succession of Roy L.
Dearie and Clifford Cooney, appeal the motion for summary
judgment granted in favor of the Plaintiff-Tax Purchaser,
Clyde Patton. The judgment granted Mr. Patton's Petition
to Quiet Title (the "Petition"), conveying to him a
67% undivided ownership interest in the Property. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm.
AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW
to the Petition, the Property was assessed to Mr. Dearie. The
Succession of Mr. Dearie was found delinquent in its payment
of ad valorem taxes for 2011. The municipal address for the
Property is 1006 Milan Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70115.
As a result of the delinquency, the City of New Orleans,
through its Tax Collector ("the City"), sent notice
of the public tax sale to Mr. Dearie-via certified mail-at
the Milan Street address, the contact address registered in
the Conveyance Office for Orleans Parish. The certified mail
receipt was signed for by C.E. Cooney on August 7, 2012. The
notice advertised the Milan Street property for a public tax
sale scheduled to take place on September 25, 2012. On the
date of the tax sale, Mr. Patton was the winning bidder and
paid the delinquent taxes in the amount of $1, 109.74.
Thereafter, on November 26, 2012, the City executed a tax
sale certificate to Mr. Patton, which conveyed to him a 67%
interest in the property. The certificate was recorded in the
Notarial Archives of Orleans Parish on December 28, 2012.
January 19, 2016, Mr. Patton filed the Petition and requested
a curator be appointed. The Petition named the Unopened
Succession of Roy L. Dearie (the "Unopened
Succession") and Mr. Cooney as defendants. Mr. Patton
alleged that he had paid taxes and other assessments on the
property from 2012 through 2016, which totaled $53, 124.12.
He maintained that the three-year redemptive period had
expired since the recordation of his tax sale
certificate. Hence, pursuant to La. R.S. 47:2266A(1),
the owner and possessor of a valid tax sale certificate, he
requested that his title to the property be confirmed and
quieted against all other interests, claims, or encumbrances
held by all duly notified persons. The Petition gave notice
to the Unopened Succession and Mr. Cooney that title to the
Property would be confirmed unless proceedings to annul were
instituted within six months from service of citation of the
Petition. The Petition also requested the appointment of a
curator (the ―Curator') to represent the absent
defendant, the Unopened Succession, and "his heirs,
successors, administrators, or assigns, [ ] surviving spouse,
if any, and their heirs, successors, administrators or
assigns." After failed attempts to serve Mr. Cooney, Mr.
Patton filed a Motion to Appoint a Special Process Server,
which was granted on March 16, 2016.
trial court appointed the Curator on January 19, 2016; the
Curator was served on February 18, 2016. The Curator's
answer, filed on March 1, 2016, denied the allegations of the
Petition. The Curator's Note of Evidence represented the
following: 1) all attempts to contact Mr. Cooney by telephone
failed; 2) there had been no response to the
"whereabouts" advertisements placed in the
Times-Picayune on April 10, April 13, and April 15,
2016; 3) the internet people search engines did not yield any
contact results; and 4) Mr. Cooney had not responded to the
certified mail sent to the 1006 Milan Street address. The
Note of Evidence also represented that no other heirs had
contacted the Curator and that a succession for Mr. Dearie
had not been opened.
18, 2016, Mr. Cooney and Patricia Deynoodt filed an answer,
reconventional demand, and third party demand. Their answer
alleged that Mr. Cooney and Ms. Deynoodt were heirs of Mr.
Dearie and challenged the validity of the tax sale, claiming,
in part, that Ms. Deynoodt and other unnamed heirs never
received any pre-sale notice or post-sale redemption notice
of the tax sale. The reconventional demand named Mr. Patton
as a defendant. It alleged that the tax sale was null because
Mr. Patton refused to provide a redemption figure to Mr.
Cooney and the City's method of tax collection contained
fees and charges that were not constitutional. In the third
party demand, they contended that the underlying tax sale was
invalid on its face. They argued that Louisiana law does not
allow for less than 100% acquisition of the Property. Based
on that argument, the Louisiana Attorney General was named as
a defendant to defend the constitutionality of the 67%
interest conveyed to Mr. Patton.
Patton denied the allegations of the reconventional
demand. On August 12, 2016, he filed a motion for
summary judgment, requesting that the trial court grant the
Petition. In the motion, he alleged summary judgment relief
was appropriate because the Property had not been redeemed
within the three-year statutory period and all notice
requirements and other formalities of the tax sale procedure
had been followed.
trial court conducted a hearing on the summary judgment
motion on September 23, 2016. At the hearing, the Curator
reiterated that she was unsuccessful in locating any of the
heirs. The trial court found Mr. Cooney had not produced any
countervailing evidence to show that he paid taxes on the
Property, notified the other heirs of the tax sale
litigation, or redeemed the Property within the statutory
three-year period. Determining there were no issues of
disputed fact and finding Mr. Patton had complied with the
statutory notice requirements, the trial court granted Mr.
Patton's motion for summary judgment. 
Mr. Cooney and Ms. Deynoodt filed a motion for new trial. The
motion alleged the trial court had not considered their claim
that the transfer of 67% interest in the property acquired by
way of a tax sale was unconstitutional. The trial court
denied the motion.
devolutive appeal followed.
appeal, Appellants raise as their only assignment of error
that the trial court should have nullified the tax sale
because all interested parties did not receive pre-sale and
post-sale notice, in violation of the guarantees provided by
the United States Constitution. Specifically, Appellants
contend that with the exception of Mr. Cooney, Patricia
Deynoodt and other heirs did not receive pre-sale or
post-sale notice. Appellants claim that pursuant to La. R.S.
47:2156, all interested parties are required to be sent
pre-tax sale notice, as well as post-tax sale notice; and of
the two notices, post-sale notice is the "more important