CITY OF HORN LAKE, MISSISSIPPI, JOEY TREADWAY, TAX COLLECTOR OF DeSOTO COUNTY; PARKER PICKLE, TAX ASSESSOR OF DeSOTO COUNTY; W.E. DAVIS, DeSOTO COUNTY CHANCERY CLERK; AND DeSOTO COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI
SASS MUNI-V, LLC
OF JUDGMENT: 05/02/2016
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. MITCHELL M. LUNDY, JR.
COURT ATTORNEYS: JOSEPH DAVID NEYMAN, JR. RAYMOND SPENCER
CLIFT, III SHANNON LORENE WILEY
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: BILLY C. CAMPBELL, JR. ROBERT E.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: LEWIE G. “SKIP” NEGROTTO,
KITCHENS, P.J., KING AND COLEMAN, JJ.
The City of Horn Lake and DeSoto County filed the present
appeal after the DeSoto County Chancery Court granted Sass
Muni-V, LLC's (Sass Muni's) motion for summary
judgment. The result of the chancery court's decision
voided a 2008 tax sale at which Sass Muni purchased some
property in DeSoto County and also refunded Sass Muni the
purchase price of $530, 508. Due to the clear and unambiguous
language of Mississippi Code Section 27-43-3, the chancery
clerk's failure to give proper notice of the tax sale
renders the sale void. Therefore, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
For the year 2007, the City and County levied taxes on a
piece of property located in DeSoto County in the amount of
$520, 508. When the property owners did not pay the taxes,
the property was offered for a tax sale by public auction on
August 25, 2008. Sass Muni was the successful bidder for the
property with a bid of $530, 508. The two-year redemption
period expired without the prior owners redeeming the
property. However, a year after the redemption period
expired, Sass Muni filed its complaint in the DeSoto County
Chancery Court, asking for the tax sale to be declared void
and for the purchase price to be refunded.
The City and the County filed motions to dismiss, and the
chancery court granted the motions because Sass Muni lacked
standing to challenge the tax sale and on the principle of
caveat emptor. Sass Muni appealed the chancery
court's judgment; we subsequently issued a unanimous
opinion reversing the chancery court's judgment. SASS
Muni-V, LLC v. DeSoto Cty., 170 So.3d 441, 449 (¶
24) (Miss. 2015). The Court wrote that "[t]his Court has
never addressed whether a party who is not entitled to
notice- SASS, in this case-may nevertheless challenge the
validity of the tax sale based on lack of notice to another
party." Id. at 446 (¶ 15). The Court went
on to say that "SASS simply challenges the chancery
clerk's actual compliance with the notice procedure
required by law. The chancery clerk's failure to comply
with the notice requirements renders the sale void,
not simply voidable by the property owner, and the
commencement of a cause of action is not even necessary to
set aside the sale." Id. at 448 (¶ 18).
The Court held that Sass Muni did have standing because
"SASS's interest in the validity of its title to the
property gives it standing to challenge the chancery
clerk's compliance with the notice statutes."
Id. at 449 (¶ 21). Finally, the Court held:
SASS, as the purchaser of the property in question at a tax
sale, has standing to bring a suit to set aside the sale due
to the chancery clerk's failure to comply with the
tax-sale notice statutes. In addition, the doctrine of caveat
emptor does not bar SASS's suit, as the tax-sale statutes
specifically provide for the remedy SASS seeks.
Id. at 449 (¶ 24).
On remand, the parties filed dueling motions for summary
judgment, and the chancery court heard oral arguments on the
motions. In its written opinion, the chancery court quoted
our opinion, in which we stated that "[t]he chancery
clerk's failure to comply with those requirements renders
the sale void, not simply voidable by the property
owner, and the commencement of a cause of action is not even
necessary to set aside the sale." SASS Muni-V, LLC
v. DeSoto Cty., 170 So.3d at 448 (¶ 18). The
chancery court explained that Sass Muni was entitled to
receive the same strict construction of the statutes related
to tax-sale notice ...