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COA rules company not entitled to surplus funds under agreement

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An Owen Circuit judge erred by granting a Colorado company’s petition to claim surplus funds from the tax sale of property belonging to Ora and Leafie Chambers, the Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The couple signed an agreement that transferred their right of the surplus funds from the sale of their property to Asset Recovery Inc.

In Auditor of Owen County and Treasurer of Owen County v. Asset Recovery, Inc., 60A01-1212-MI-592, the Owen County auditor and treasurer appealed the trial court’s grant of the company’s petition for release of the surplus funds. The purchaser of the Chamberses’ property paid more than the amount required to fulfill the outstanding tax obligations, resulting in surplus of nearly $7,500. The county officials claimed that Indiana Code 6-1.1-24-7.5 invalidates the bill of sale and assignment issued to Asset Recovery.

Under the agreement, the couple would receive nearly $4,500 and Asset Recovery would receive the remainder of the surplus.

The COA found the agreement to be invalid under the statute because it has the primary purpose of paying compensation to recover money deposited in a tax sale surplus fund with respect to property that has been the subject of a tax sale and requires payment of compensation of more than 10 percent of the amount to be collected from the tax sale surplus fund. Asset Recovery would receive 40 percent of the total amount collected from the surplus fund, but is limited to just 10 percent under the law.

“Moreover, as a matter of public policy, the statute is designed to protect the citizens of our state and to regulate the activities of property locator services whose primary purpose is to locate money deposited in tax sale surplus funds by capping the fees at 10 percent of the total amount collected from the surplus fund,” Senior Judge Betty Barteau wrote. “Certainly, elderly property owners are a particular group of the population to be protected by this statute as their vulnerability is often preyed upon. Therefore, it would be error for us to ignore the spirit and objectives of Indiana Code section 6-1.1-24-7.5 by allowing Asset Recovery to be compensated for the recovery of the funds pursuant to the terms of its agreement with the Chamberses.”
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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