Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interest on redemption

M JEWELL, LLC, Appellant-Petitioner, v. HANCOCK COUNTY AUDITOR, Appellee-Respondent.

Case Information:

Docket/Court: 30A01-1102-PL-56, Court of Appeals of Indiana

Date Issued: 08/09/2011

Tax Type(s): Property

APPEAL FROM THE HANCOCK CIRCUIT COURT, The Honorable Richard D. Culver, Judge, Cause No. 30C01-0911-PL-1273




KIRSCH, Judge Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.


M JEWELL, LLC (“Jewell”) appeals the trial court.s order denying its petition for payment of redemption interest pertaining to a property tax sale. The sole issue for our review is whether the trial court, which entered the judgment and order to sell the property at tax sale, erred in determining that it lacked jurisdiction to hear matters pertaining to the tax sale surplus funds generated by the tax sale case.

We reverse and remand.


On December 8, 2009, Jewell was the successful bidder of a tax sale certificate at the 2009 Hancock County Tax Sale. Jewell purchased the property via the tax sale certificate for $80,000.00 creating a tax sale surplus of $77,883.34. The tax sale certificate does not convey ownership of the property; rather ownership will be conveyed through a tax deed issued if the property is not redeemed by its original owner within twelve months from the date of sale of the certificate.

Here, the property was redeemed on February 2, 2010; however, the Hancock County Auditor (“Auditor”) failed to notify Jewell of the redemption until approximately six months later on July 30, 2010. After the property was redeemed, Jewell was entitled to the return of the surplus funds, plus exemption expenses and interest pursuant to Indiana Code sections 6-1.1-24-7 and 6-1.1-25-2 . The Auditor paid interest only through February 2, 2010.

Jewell brought this action by filing a petition for payment of redemption interest in the trial court contending that statutory interest should have been paid through the date that Jewell was actually notified of the redemption. The trial court, however, found that it was without jurisdictional authority to grant the prayer for relief that was requested and dismissed the action. Jewell filed a motion to correct error, which was denied by the trial court. Jewell now appeals.


Jewell contends that the trial court erred in finding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear Jewell.s petition for payment of redemption interest. We note that the Auditor failed to file an appellee.s brief. Therefore, we do not undertake the burden of developing arguments as that burden remains with the appellee. Gabbard v. Dennis, 821 N.E.2d 441, 444 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005) . Accordingly, this court may reverse the trial court when the appellant establishes prima facie error. Id. “Prima facie error, in this context, is error 'at first sight, on first appearance, or on the face of it.'” Howard v. Daugherty, 915 N.E.2d 998, 1000 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009) (quoting Santana v. Santana, 708 N.E.2d 886, 887 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999) ). However, if appellant fails to meet this burden, we will affirm the decision of the trial court. Id.

The trial court, in its order denying Jewell.s petition for payment of redemption interest, stated that it was without authority to grant the prayer for relief under this cause number. We disagree. When property taxes have become delinquent, certain notices must be given and then sale of the real property begins with a public auction. Star Fin. Bank v. Shelton, 691 N.E.2d 1338, 1339 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998) . Before the sale, a court hearing is required, after which the court shall enter a judgment and order for sale of such real property. Ind. Code § 6-1.1-24-4.7(b) , (d). Indiana Code section 6-1.1-24-4.7(f) provides, “The court that enters judgment under this section shall retain exclusive continuing supervisory jurisdiction over all matters and claims relating to the tax sale.”

Therefore, since the trial court entered the judgment and order to sell the property, it retains jurisdiction to hear all other matters relating to the tax sale of that property. Accordingly, the trial court committed prima facie error in finding that it lacked jurisdiction to determine the merits of the claim. We remand to the trial court with instructions that it address the merits of Jewell.s petition for payment of redemption interest.

Reversed and remanded.

VAIDIK, J., and MATHIAS, J., concur.

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