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COA: Buyer complied with notice statutes for obtaining tax deed

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Noting that the parties and trial court did not follow the established procedures to set aside a tax deed, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the court erred in finding a buyer’s notices sent certified mail were statutorily deficient. The notices did not request return receipt.

Vinod Gupta bought the tax certificate to a lot owned by Henry Busan that was sold at a tax sale in 2008 in Warrick County. Gupta sent notice of the sale and redemption period to Busan by certified and first class mail; he sent notice of his filing for a petition for issuance of a tax deed in the same manner.

The notices were not returned to Gupta, but Busan said he did not receive them. Busan filed an action to quiet title in 2012, claiming he just learned of the sale. He argued Gupta did not comply with the certified mail requirements. The Circuit Court treated the complaint as an action to set aside the grant of the tax deed pursuant to Trial Rule 60(B).

The trial court concluded Gupta failed to comply with the certified mail requirements and awarded summary judgment in favor of Busan.

The Court of Appeals noted in Vinod C. Gupta v. Henry S. Busan, Heritage Federal Credit Union, 87A01-1307-MI-340, that the trial court could only hear the complaint within a “reasonable time” instead of within 60 days under Trial Rule 60(B) if Busan alleged he did not receive constitutionally adequate notice.

“Because Busan did not file the motion within sixty days and did not allege inadequate notice to meet the exception, the trial court should not have entertained his motion for relief; however, Gupta did not raise this issue either at the trial court or on appeal, and we will not become an advocate for a party,” Judge Margret Robb wrote. “All of these deviations from the established process to set aside a tax deed under Trial Rule 60(B) contributed to the unique issue presented here upon appeal.”

Gupta provided certified mail receipts, postmarked by the post office as evidence of the fact he mailed the notices to Busan, which is sufficient to prove that he sent the notices by certified mail and complied with the statute. Gupta was not required to provide actual proof of tracking and delivery to show compliance, the judges held. They remanded for grant of summary judgment quieting title for Gupta.

 

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