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Midwest Management v. Frank

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

December 18, 2017





         Before the Court is a Motion for Default Judgment filed by Plaintiff, Midwest Management ("Midwest")- Record Document 18. Plaintiff seeksa default judgment against Defendants Raphael Frank and Mary Labbe Frank. For the reasons given below, Plaintiffs Motion For Default Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Factual & Procedural Background

         On November 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Petition to Quiet Tax Title in the 27th Judicial District Court in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. It alleges that, by virtue of a St. Landry Parish Tax Sale Certificate, Midwest owns a 100% interest in a property located in St. Landry Parish ("the Property"), bearing parcel number 0100026900 and described as follows:

3 LOTS 12 13 14 (48X98 EA), BLK F BERTRAND ARTIGUE SUB DIV 967524 (K-42-419) 1010707, being more fully described as:
Three certain lots or parcel of ground, together with all building and improvements thereon, designated as LOTS 12, 13, AND 14 OF BLOCK F OF BERTRAND-ARTIGUE SUBDIVISION to the City of Opelousas, Louisiana as per Plat dated September 10, 1951 made by F. S. Roberts, C. E. which Plat is recorded in Plat Book 3, page 110 of the records of the Clerk of Court, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Being the same property acquired in part by Judgment of Possession in the Succession of Lindsay Albert dated April 24, 2003, recorded as Act No. 904625 in Conveyance Book Q-39, Page 615, and in part by donation from Evelina Myles Albert dated November 11, 2000, recorded as Act No. 862941 in Donation Book 67, page 887, and having been acquired by Cynthia Harris by Act of Donation from Helen Albert Ventress dated June 24, 2004, recorded as Act No. 927181 in Conveyance Book M-40, page 215.

         Record Document 1-2, p. 3-4. Plaintiff alleges that it acquired tax title to the Property at a St. Landry Parish tax sale conducted by the Sheriff and Ex-Officio Tax Collector, and that the certificate of sale was recorded in the conveyance records on June 4, 2013. Id. at 4; see also Id. at 12-13.

         Plaintiff explains that Defendants Raphael Frank and Mary Labbe Frank ("the Franks") were identified as the owners of the Property pursuant to a cash sale recorded in the St. Landry Parish conveyance records on August 10, 2006.[1] Plaintiff claims that prior to the tax sale, the Franks were notified of the tax delinquency and impending sale by the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office. 14 at 4, 28. It attaches a return receipt signed by Mary Frank for an article sent to 476 Howard Road in Opelousas, Louisiana. The receipt is dated April 6, and Plaintiff identifies the year as 2013. Id.

         Additionally, Midwest sent letters to the Franks dated October 29, 2015, and January 12, 2016. Id. at 29, 33. Among other information, these letters explained that property taxes were not paid on the Property for the 2012 year and, as a result, tax sale title to the Property was sold to Midwest. They explained that the Property could be redeemed within three years from June 4, 2013, and provided the information for the St. Landry Parish Tax Collector's Office. See 14 These letters were sent to Raphael Frank by regular and certified mail to three different addresses in Opelousas, Louisiana: 476 Howard Road, 432 Howard Road, and a Post Office Box. Id. at 4-5. The letters were also sent to Mary Labbe Frank via regular and certified mail to the two Howard Road addresses in Opelousas. Id. at 5-6.

         The United States of America was identified as a party with an interest in the Property pursuant to a Notice of Federal Tax Lien against Raphael Frank filed in the mortgage records of St. Landry Parish on July 12, 2010. See Id. at 41. The United States acknowledges receipt of notice of the right to redeem the tax sale.[2] Record Document 6, p. 2.

         Plaintiff filed this petition on November 14, 2016, seeking a judgment recognizing that it is the owner of a 100% interest in the Property and that the Franks, the Parish of St. Landry ("the Parish")/[3] "their successors, heirs, and/or assigns have no right, title or claim" to the Property. The United States removed the suit on December 19, 2016.

         On May 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Entry of Default [Record Document 14], and on May 16, 2017, the Clerk filed an Entry of Default against the Franks and the Parish [Record Documents 15-17]. On June 15, 2017, Plaintiff then filed this Motion for Default Judgment [Record Document 18]. The Court held a telephone conference on November 30, 2017, to address various issues with the pending motion. Issues included the language contained in the proposed judgment, whether the Parish was properly served, and whether the Parish was a proper party to this suit. See Record Document 23. Since that conference, Plaintiff and the United States have stipulated to the dismissal of the Parish, see Record Document 24, and Plaintiff has submitted an updated proposed default judgment [Record Document 25]. Plaintiff now only seeks default judgment against the Franks. At no time have the Franks participated in this action.

         II. ...

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