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Community Associates, Inc. v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

July 31, 2019

COMMUNITY ASSOCIATES, INC.
v.
TOMMY TAYLOR, SHANNON DAVE GRIFFIN, RONNIE HEISSER AND NADINE HEISSER

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2014-08510, DIVISION "L" Honorable Kern A. Reese, Judge.

          John A. E. Davidson Christopher J. Davidson DAVIDSON & DAVIDSON, APLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

          Court composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Tiffany G. Chase

          Tiffany G. Chase Judge.

         Community Associates, Inc. (hereinafter "Community Associates") seeks review of the trial court's January 24, 2018 judgment confirming three tax sales of property previously owned by Community Associates. The trial court found the tax sale by the City of New Orleans valid and Ronnie and Nadine Heisser owners of the properties. After consideration of the record before this Court, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court confirming the tax sale of 4922 Flake Avenue and reverse the judgment of the trial court regarding the tax sale of 4910 and 4914 Flake Avenue.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On April 26, 2006, Tommy Taylor and his wife Ladonna Johnson Taylor transferred community properties located on Flake Avenue in New Orleans to Community Associates. The properties consisted of five lots designated as lot 21 located at 4910 Flake Avenue; lots 22 and 23, located at 4914 Flake Avenue; and lots 24 and 25 located at 4922 Flake Avenue in the Doncost-Gabriel Property subdivision.[1] The sale of the lots was recorded on May 2, 2006. On October 5, 2007, Tommy Taylor (hereinafter "Mr. Taylor") individually donated lots 24 and 25 to Shannon Dave Griffin (hereinafter "Ms. Griffin"). The Act of Donation was recorded on October 9, 2007.

         Following the recordation of the Act of Donation, ad valorem property taxes were assessed to Ms. Griffin.[2] Due to failure to pay property taxes from 2006 to 2008, the City of New Orleans initiated a tax sale of the properties. Ronald and Nadine Heisser (hereinafter "the Heissers") purchased the properties on December 3, 2009. On January 29, 2010, tax deeds were executed for lots 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 in favor of the Heissers. The deeds were recorded with the Orleans Parish Notarial Archives on February 9, 2010 and provided the following:

GABRIEL TRACT SQ 10 LOT 21 FLAKE 25X95 VACANT Tax bill number: 39W908517
GABRIEL TRACT SQ 10 LOTS 22, 23 FLAKE 50X95 VACANT Tax bill number: 39W908508
GABRIEL TRACT SQ 10 LOTS 24, 25 FLAKE 50X95 FR SGLE ASBESTOS/SIDING 8/RM S A/R Tax bill number: 39W908514

         On February 18, 2010, the Heissers mailed a certified letter to Community Associates at 3131 Metairie Road, Metairie, Louisiana, 70001. The letter notified Community Associates that 4922 Flake Avenue had been sold for non-payment of taxes. The Heissers enclosed a copy of the tax sale deed, for that property, with the letter. The letter also noted the amount of the taxes necessary within the three-year redemption period. On July 23, 2011, the City of New Orleans mailed a Post Tax Sale Notice to Community Associates to the company's Metairie address. This notice also informed Community Associates of the tax sale and listed the tax bill number as 39W908514; the property location as 4922 Flake Avenue; and the legal description of the property as GABRIEL TRACT SQ 10 LOTS 24 25 FLAKE 50X95 FR SGLE ASBESTOS/SIDING 8/RM S A/R.

         Community Associates filed a petition to annul the tax sale, of lots 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25, on August 28, 2014. In response, the Heissers filed a reconventional demand to quiet tax title, of all the lots, on October 9, 2014. By judgment dated December 15, 2016, the trial court rendered the Act of Donation in favor of Ms. Griffin an absolute nullity, leaving the Act of Conveyance of the properties to Community Associates valid. The judgment also severed the issues of nullity of the tax sale and partition of the property.

         The issues of nullity of the tax sale and partition of the property were heard by the trial court on June 14, 2017. After taking the matter under advisement, the trial court rendered judgment on January 24, 2018. The trial court found the tax sales valid and named the Heissers as the sole owners of lots 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. On February 5, 2018, the Heissers filed an ex parte motion to amend judgment, requesting that the trial court correct the municipal addresses of the property in the judgment. The trial court granted the motion on the same date. This appeal followed.

         Discussion

         The redemptive period for tax sales is set forth in La. Const. art. VII § 25, which outlines constitutional protections during tax sales. The procedure of redemption of ...


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