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Cottonwood Development v. Moter

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

October 27, 2017

COTTONWOOD DEVELOPMENT
v.
CHARLES WALTER MOTER, ET AL.

          WHITEHURST MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRUST JUDGE

         Now pending before the Court is the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment Foreclosing Its Tax Liens. [Record Document 50], The United States argues:

[I]t is entitled to judgment foreclosing its federal tax lien against the parcel of real property at issue, ordering that the property be sold according to law, free and clear of the liens and claims of the remaining parties herein (i.e., the United States; Cottonwood Development; Charles W. Moter; the State of Louisiana, Department of Revenue; Lafayette Parish School Board; and NCO Portfolio Management, Inc.), and ordering that the proceeds of the sale be paid to the United States to be applied to Charles W. Moter's outstanding federal income tax liability for 2002, but only after Cottonwood Development is reimbursed for the property taxes it has paid in relation to the property.

[Id. at 1]. Plaintiff, Cottonwood Development ("Cottonwood"), has filed a response, indicating that it has no objection to the foreclosure provided that it is reimbursed for the property taxes it paid on the subject property. [Record Document 53 at 1]. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         On April 8, 2013, Cottonwood filed this suit in state court to quiet title to a parcel of real property located in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana ("the Property"). [Record Document 1 -2]. In its suit, Cottonwood named the following Defendants: Charles Walter Moter ("Moter"); the United States of America, Department of Treasury - Internal Revenue Service; the State of Louisiana, Department of Revenue ("Louisiana Department of Revenue"); the Lafayette Parish School Board, and NCO Portfolio Management, Inc. ("NCO"). [Id. at 2]. The United States then removed the matter to this Court, [1] [Record Document 1 ], and filed an answer, a counterclaim against Cottonwood, a crossclaim against Moter, the Louisiana Department of Revenue, the Lafayette Parish School Board, and NCO (collectively, "Crossclaim Defendants"), [Record Document 8 at 4], and claims against three additional parties: IberiaBank, BEST Cleaning Service, Inc., and the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government, [id. at 4-6]. The United States brought suit against these parties because "each of them may claim an interest in and/or a lien on [the] property upon which the United States seeks to foreclose its federal tax liens." [Id. at 6].

         The Property was formerly owned by Moter. [Record Document 19-1 at 3-4]. On June 2, 2003, an assessment of federal income tax, penalties, and interest was made against Moter by the United States for the year 2002. [Id. at 1-2]. Pursuant 26 U.S.C. §§ 6321-6322 (2012), a lien for that year arose on June 2, 2003 and attached to Moter's undivided interest in the Property. [Id. at 2]. On March 30, 2004, a Notice of Federal Tax Lien was filed against Moter in the mortgage records of Lafayette Parish. [Id. at 4]. The Notice was refiled on February 22, 2013.[2] [Id., ].

         Due to delinquent property taxes owed by Moter to Lafayette Parish, the Sheriff for Lafayette Parish offered the Property at anon-judicial foreclosure sale. [Record Documents 19-1 at 5 and 21-1 at 1]. Notice of the sale was provided only in accordance with Louisiana law, not in the manner mandated by 26 U.S.C. § 7425(c)(1) (2012), which requires that notice of the forced sale of property on which the federal government has a lien be given "in writing, by registered or certified mail or by personal service, not less than 25 days prior to such sale." [Record Document 25 at 5-6], Cottonwood purchased tax sale title to the Property and recorded its Tax Sale Certificate in the Lafayette Parish conveyance records on May 21, 2009. [Record Documents 19-1 at 6 and 21-1at 1].

         In a prior ruling, the Court applied 26 U.S.C. § 7425(b)(1) and found because proper notice of the sale was not provided to the United States, the sale of the Property did not affect the United States' tax lien. [Record Document 25 at 5-6]. Thus, the Court concluded that the United States had shown it was entitled to foreclose on the Property. [Id. at 8]. However, the Court also found that it could not grant the United States' motion for summary judgment at that time because (1) the record did not show service upon IberiaBank, BEST Cleaning Service, Inc., and the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government and (2) the United States had not properly obtained default judgments against the Crossclaim Defendants. [Id. at 7-8]. Following the correction of these deficiencies, [Record Documents 31 and 47], [3] the Court granted the United States' motion for partial summary judgment, finding that Cottonwood "holds a claim in priority to the federal tax lien to the extent of the property taxes it has paid in relation to the property, " [Record Document 48 at 5].

         II. The United States' Motion

         The United States has now filed a third motion for summary judgment, seeking to foreclose on the Property and receive the proceeds of the tax sale after Cottonwood is reimbursed for the property taxes that it paid. [Record Document 5 0]. Although Cottonwood has filed a responsive brief styled as a Memorandum in Opposition, [Record Document 53], the title is a misnomer. Cottonwood has no objections:

Cottonwood does not object to the United States foreclosing on its tax liens, but only after Cottonwood is reimbursed for the ad valorem taxes it paid in relation to the subject property pursuant to its 2009 Lafayette Parish Tax Sale Certificate recorded in the Lafayette Parish Conveyance Records as File Number 2009-00020043 on May 21, 2009.

         [Record Document 53 at 1]. Thus, Cottonwood's responsive brief merely clarifies Cottonwood's entitlement to $ 13, 064.10 as reimbursement for the ad valorem parish taxes paid for the years 2008- 2013. [Id. ]. Although the United States has filed no reply brief, the United States previously agreed that Cottonwood is owed $ 13, 064.10 and "should be reimbursed that ...


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