Justices vacate transfer of Henry County land dispute

May 30, 2018

The Indiana Supreme Court has vacated its decision to grant transfer to a case stemming from a Henry County land dispute less than one week after hearing oral argument.

The justices granted transfer to Lamasco Redevelopment, LLC v. Henry County, Indiana, Auditor and Henry County, Indiana, Treasurer, 18S-MI-00198, on April 13, when they agreed to decide the validity of a land purchase made at a Henry County tax sale. Lamasco Redevelopment, LLC initially received the tax deeds to the land in question — known as Parcels 413 and 91 — in December 2016, but those deeds were subsequently revoked after the Henry County auditor discovered an error.

Specifically, the auditor’s office said it had endorsed deeds purporting to transfer the original property owners’ interest in the parcels to other people in September and December 2016, a mistake it said invalided the tax sale under Indiana Code section 32-21-8-7 (2016). The Henry Circuit Court agreed, but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed in July.

Senior Judge John T. Sharpnack wrote for the appellate panel that because Parcel 413 was erroneously transferred to the third-party buyer outside of the one-year redemption period that began in 2015, its conveyance to the third party was void. And while Parcel 91 was conveyed to the third party within the one-year redemption period, neither the original owner nor the third-party purchaser appeared, giving the trial court no statutory basis to stop the otherwise lawful tax sale, Sharpnack said.

The Court of Appeals reaffirmed that decision in October and ordered the trial court to re-issue the deeds to Lamasco. The case went before the Supreme Court on May 24, and on Tuesday the justices vacated transfer.

“After further review, including consideration of the points presented by counsel at oral argument and discussion among the Justices in conference after the oral argument, the Court has determined that it should not assume jurisdiction over this appeal and that the Court of Appeals opinion reported as Lamasco Redevelopment, LLC v. Henry County Indiana Auditor, 80 N.E.3d 257 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017), should be reinstated as Court of Appeals precedent,” the court wrote in an order signed by Chief Justice Loretta Rush on Tuesday.  


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