A trial court was not the proper forum to grant summary judgment in favor of the Internal Revenue Service in a dispute over a land contract that had been an issue in a prior bankruptcy case, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
In a dispute over a land contract for a property that had liens attached, Morgan Circuit Judge Matthew Hanson granted summary judgment in favor of the IRS in Victor W. Goodman and Jacquelyn C. Burke v. Steven L. SeRine, Suzanne M. SeRine, United States of America Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service, Robert J. DeGrazia, et al., 55A01-1304-PL-176.
The COA vacated that judgment and remanded with orders to dismiss Goodman’s complaint for quiet title. While the sellers’ bankruptcy action had been dismissed, dismissal does not change the conclusion that proper venue for a claim on the property resides in the bankruptcy court.
“As the purported transfer to Goodman took place after the SeRines filed for bankruptcy, the property presumably was part of the bankruptcy estate," Judge Melissa May wrote for the panel.
"Whether any interest could have been transferred to Goodman, or the nature of any such interest, are questions of bankruptcy law that must be resolved by the bankruptcy court, not by our state courts.
"… As the issues in the case before remain subject to bankruptcy court jurisdiction, we vacate the trial court’s judgment and direct it to dismiss the quiet title action."