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McNatt v. Turbeville

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 28, 2015

GEORGE PATRICK MCNATT, JR. AND BARNEY EUGENE FINCH, APPELLANTS
v.
LESLIE TURBEVILLE F/K/A LESLIE HOWELL, JOHN A. SULLIVAN, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE RANKIN COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR, JUDY FORTENBERRY, IN HER CAPACITY AS THE RANKIN COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR, AND LARRY SWALES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CLERK OF THE RANKIN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, APPELLEES

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/12/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DAN H. FAIRLY. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: APPELLEE FOUND TO HAVE FEE-SIMPLE TITLE TO REAL PROPERTY.

AFFIRMED.

FOR APPELLANTS: J. EDWARD RAINER.

FOR APPELLEES: CRAIG LAWSON SLAY, DAVID RINGER, CHRISTOPHER PAUL PALMER, BRENTON MATTHEW CARTER.

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART AND DISSENTS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

Page 882

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - REAL PROPERTY

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. This case involves the validity of a tax deed that was acquired by a purchaser who was living on the former landowner's property. The Rankin County Chancery Court found that Leslie Turbeville had a fee-simple title to property that she bought at a tax sale, despite the fact that Turbeville had begun living on the property as the tenant of the former landowner, George Patrick McNatt Jr. The chancellor found no merit to the claim of Barney Eugene Finch, who received a quitclaim deed from McNatt, that Turbeville was prohibited from acquiring title to the property because of her status as McNatt's tenant. Additionally, the chancellor held that the time that Turbeville had occupied the property after the tax sale defeated Finch's claim that deficient publication rendered the tax sale void. Finch appeals.[1] Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. McNatt owned a ten-acre parcel of land in Rankin County, Mississippi. In 1993, he began renting a lot to Turbeville for $100 a month.[2] Turbeville moved a mobile home onto the lot.

¶3. McNatt did not pay the 2001 ad valorem taxes on the property. In August 2002, Turbeville bought the property at the Rankin County Chancery Clerk's tax sale. Since then, Turbeville has consistently paid the ad valorem taxes on the property. McNatt did not redeem the property, and Turbeville received a tax deed in August 2004. She filed a homestead exemption on the property during 2005.

¶4. In June 2009, McNatt quitclaimed his interest in the property to his first cousin, Finch. Finch did not pay McNatt anything in exchange.[3] Finch[4] then sued Turbeville and sought to set aside the tax sale. Finch claimed that the tax sale was void based on deficiencies regarding its publication and the description of the property. Finch also claimed that McNatt did not receive proper notice of the tax sale. The parties went to trial in January 2013. Turbeville, McNatt, and Finch testified.

¶5. Turbeville testified that she stopped paying McNatt rent in June 2002. According to Turbeville, McNatt told her that she could replace a septic tank in lieu of paying rent. Turbeville explained that McNatt's ex-wife told her about the tax sale. After she purchased the property at the tax sale, Turbeville attempted to tell McNatt that she " had purchased the taxes." Although she went to the house where McNatt had lived on the property " several times," there was never anyone there. Turbeville testified that she has not seen McNatt living on the property since 2002. Her mobile home was approximately two-hundred feet from the house. She explained that she saw McNatt's former house on a daily basis, and no one had lived ...


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