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R&N Ursuline Family Limited Partnership v. Pas A Vendre, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 9, 2018

R&N URSULINE FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP
v.
PAS A VENDRE, LLC, AS SUCCESSOR IN INTEREST TO MATTHEW B. MORELAND, AND NORMAN S. FOSTER, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EX-OFFICIO TAX COLLECTOR FOR THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-10346, DIVISION "C" Honorable Sidney H. Cates, Judge

          Scott J. Sonnier ATTORNEY AT LAW COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Thomas M. Beh ELKINS, PLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          (Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods)

          SANDRA CABRINA JENKINS JUDGE.

         In this action to annul a tax sale, R&N Ursuline Family Limited Partnership ("R&N") appeals the trial court's April 10, 2017 judgment granting an exception of res judicata filed by appellee, Pas A Vendre, LLC ("Pas A Vendre"). For the reasons that follow, we vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Property and the Tax Sale

         R&N was the owner of property located at 1041-43 Dauphine Street in New Orleans ("Property"). In November 2002, the New Orleans Department of Health adjudicated the Property as "blighted, " and in May 2004, the City of New Orleans ("City") recorded a health lien against the Property in the Orleans Parish mortgage records. For tax years 2004 and 2005, R&N failed to pay the ad valorem property taxes assessed on the Property. Consequently, on November 28, 2007, the City held a tax sale of the Property ("Tax Sale"), and the Property was sold to Matthew B. Moreland. On December 17, 2007, the City issued a Tax Sale Deed conveying the Property to Mr. Moreland. The Tax Sale Deed was recorded in the conveyance office of Orleans Parish.

         R&N's 2008 Lawsuit

         On or about February 28, 2008, R&N filed a "Suit for Redemption, Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction and Permanent Injunction" ("2008 Lawsuit") naming Mr. Moreland as the defendant. In the 2008 Lawsuit, R&N sought a judgment declaring the Property redeemed, and asked for a preliminary injunction prohibiting Mr. Moreland from occupying the Property.

         Four years later, in September 2012, Mr. Moreland filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in the 2008 Lawsuit, seeking a ruling from the court that R&N had no right to redeem the Property under La. R.S. 13:2575(C) because the City had declared the Property blighted. Mr. Moreland also sought a judgment confirming full title and ownership of the Property in his favor. Mr. Moreland served the motion and order upon R&N by certified mail and regular mail. R&N did not file an opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment.

         On November 6, 2012, the trial court rendered a judgment ("2012 Judgment"): (1) granting Mr. Moreland's Motion for Summary Judgment and; (2) decreeing that "the property forming the subject matter of this suit is not redeemable by virtue of LSA-R.S. 13:2575(C) and thus full title and ownership in the property which Defendant purchased in a tax sale is hereby confirmed and title quieted in favor of Defendant, Matthew Moreland." On November 15, 2012, the minute clerk mailed the Notice of Signing of Judgment to R&N. R&N did not appeal the 2012 Judgment.

         On May 19, 2016, Mr. Moreland and Pas A Vendre entered into an "Act of Transfer and Contribution to Capital" ("Act of Transfer") in which Mr. Moreland transferred his entire interest in the Property to Pas A Vendre. The Act of Transfer was recorded in the public records for Orleans Parish on or about May 19, 2016.

         R&N's 2016 Lawsuit

         On October 18, 2016, nine years after the Tax Sale, R&N filed a "Petition to Annul Tax Sale" ("Petition to Annul") naming as defendants Pas A Vendre, as successor in interest to Mr. Moreland; and Norman S. Foster, in his capacity as Ex-Officio Tax Collector for the City ("Tax Collector"). R&N sought to nullify the Tax Sale Deed because the defendants failed to notify R&N of the tax delinquency and the Tax Sale in violation of Louisiana law governing tax sales and ...


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