COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/31/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. MITCHELL M. LUNDY, JR.
REVERSED AND REMANDED.
FOR APPELLANT: TIMOTHY M. KALOM, R. HAYES JOHNSON, JR., LEWIE G. NEGROTTO, IV.
FOR APPELLEES: JOSEPH D. NEYMAN, JR., ROBERT E. QUIMBY, BILLY C. CAMPBELL, JR., JACOB A. DICKERSON.
BEFORE WALLER, C.J., KITCHENS AND COLEMAN, JJ. DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR.
WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE
[¶1] SASS Muni-V, LLC, appeals from the DeSoto County Chancery Court's order dismissing its complaint seeking to void its 2008 tax-sale purchase of real property. Because the trial court erred in finding that SASS lacked standing to pursue its claims, we reverse the trial court's dismissal of SASS's complaint and remand this case for further proceedings.
FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
[¶2] The instant case arises out of the tax sale of a piece of property located in the City of Horn Lake in DeSoto County. Until August 2003, Millennium of Mississippi, LLC, owned the property in question. On August 4, 2003, Millennium conveyed the property to DeSoto County Development, LLC, by warranty deed. At that time, DeSoto Development granted Marshall Investments Corporation, and Fred Spencer, as trustee, a deed of trust lien and mortgage on the property. Marshall Investments then appointed Franklin Childress Jr., Spencer Clift III, and K. David Waddell as substitute trustees for the deed of trust. Subsequently, DeSoto Development defaulted on its mortgage, and Marshall Investments foreclosed on the property. Marshall Investments purchased the property at the foreclosure sale and, in December 2007, executed a substitute trustee's deed to MIC-Rocky, LLC.
[¶3] DeSoto County and the City of Horn Lake levied $520,508 in ad valorem taxes on the property for the tax year ending December 31, 2007. These taxes were never paid and became delinquent on February 1, 2008. The property was offered for sale at public auction by the DeSoto County tax collector on August 25, 2008, to collect the delinquent taxes. SASS was the successful bidder at the auction, with a bid of $530,508.
[¶4] No purported property owner or lienholder attempted to redeem the property within the two-year statutory redemption period. On August 30, 2011, approximately a year after the expiration of the redemption period, SASS filed a complaint in DeSoto County Chancery Court, asking the court to declare the tax sale void and to order a refund of the purchase price. SASS's request for a refund was based on thee separate theories, which were enumerated as separate " counts" in SASS's complaint. First, SASS alleged that the tax sale was void, because the chancery clerk had failed to provide notice of the expiration of the redemption period to MIC-Rocky, the purported owner of the property, and Marshall Investments and DeSoto Development, the purported lienholders, as required by the tax-sale statutes.
Second, and alternatively, SASS claimed that DeSoto Development was the true owner of the property and was entitled to notice, because MIC-Rocky did not exist as a legal entity at the time the property was conveyed to it. Finally, SASS argued that the assessments on the property were grossly disproportionate to the true value of the property, constituting a violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The complaint named four distinct groups of defendants: (1) DeSoto County, the DeSoto County tax collector, the DeSoto County tax assessor, and the DeSoto County chancery clerk (" the County Defendants" ); the City of Horn Lake (" the City Defendant" ); Marshall Investments, MIC-Rocky, and several individual trustees (" the Corporate Defendants" ); and the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the State of Mississippi (" the Nominal Defendants" ).
[¶5] The City and County Defendants each filed answers to SASS's complaint. The Corporate Defendants filed a motion to dismiss SASS's complaint pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In their motion, the Corporate Defendants claimed they had no legal or equitable interest in the property due to the expiration of the redemption period. They also argued that SASS's complaint failed to set forth the elements of any cause of action against them and did not request any relief from them.
[¶6] SASS served the defendants with discovery requests on March 20, 2012. In response, the Corporate Defendants filed a motion for a protective order to stay discovery pending the outcome of their Rule 12(b)(6) motion. The City and County Defendants also moved for protective orders, arguing that SASS had failed to serve its discovery requests within the period provided by Uniform Chancery Court Rule 1.10(A). SASS then moved to compel discovery and extend the discovery deadline. On August 13, 2012, the chancery court issued an order granting SASS's motion for an enlargement of the discovery deadline. The chancery court also denied the City and County Defendants' motions for protective orders, but temporarily stayed discovery for ninety days to allow ...