Badawi v Orth (IN)

Summary: Notice of a tax sale served on an organization does not need to be addressed to an executive officer to be proper, it only needs to be sent to the last known address contained in the public record.

Tax Deeds

Badawi v Orth, 955 NE2d 849 (Ind Ct App, 2011).

Facts: Rick Badawi and James White each owned property in Allen County, Indiana, subject to mortgages held by Wells Fargo Bank. When Badawi and White became delinquent on the taxes owed on their respective properties, Allen County held a tax sale and issued tax deeds for the property.

Wells Fargo filed an objection to the tax deeds for the Badawi and White properties, arguing that the bank had not been properly served. Indiana Code chapter 6-1.1-24 requires that as part of the tax sale process notice of the sale must be sent to the owner of record and to any person with a substantial interest in the property (i.e., a mortgage holder like Wells Fargo in this case). Allen County sent a notice of the right of redemption and a notice of petition for tax deed to the two addresses for Wells Fargo that were included in the Badawi and White mortgage documents. Both notices were received and accepted at a Wells Fargo office in Allen County and the notice of petition for tax deed was also received and accepted at a post office box in Iowa. However, Wells Fargo argued that it was not properly served because Indiana Trial Rule 4.6(A)(1) requires that service on an organization must be addressed to an "executive officer."

Because neither notice document included the name of a Wells Fargo executive officer, the bank argued that service was not proper and Allen County's tax deed should be denied. The trial court overruled Wells Fargo's objection and authorized the issuance of the tax deeds. Wells Fargo appealed.

Holding: Affirmed. The Court of Appeals of Indiana held that tax sales are controlled by the Indiana Code Section 6-1.1-24, and thus Trial Rule 4.6 was not applicable. In support of its argument that notice needed to be addressed to an executive officer, Wells Fargo relied on three cases, all of which the court found were not persuasive. Two the court found to be easily distinguishable from the facts of the present case, and the third was an Indiana Court of Appeals case that seemed to perfectly support Wells Fargo's argument, but that case was overruled by the Indiana Supreme Court on the specific issue.

The court found nothing in Indiana statutory or case law to indicate that Trial Rule 4.6 applied to notice of tax sales. The notices Allen County sent to Wells Fargo were in compliance with the statute and therefore Wells Fargo was properly served.

[Last update: 3-2-12]

Opinion Year: 
By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 2:15pm