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O'Brien v. Krantz

Supreme Court of Montana

August 7, 2018

KENNETH E. O'BRIEN, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
ADELE KRANTZ, Flathead County Treasurer, Respondent and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: June 20, 2018

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District, In and For the County of Flathead, Cause No. DV 17-1112(D) Honorable Dan Wilson, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Kenneth E. O'Brien, Self-Represented, Kalispell, Montana

          For Appellee: Edward J. Corrigan, County Attorney, David W. Randall, Deputy County Attorney, Kalispell, Montana

          OPINION

          BETH BAKER, JUSTICE

         ¶1 Kenneth E. O'Brien filed a petition for a writ of mandate with the Eleventh Judicial District Court, Flathead County, requesting that the court compel and command the Flathead County Treasurer to issue him a tax deed or appear and show cause why it should not do so. The District Court denied the petition. O'Brien appeals. We affirm the court's denial of a writ of mandate.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In July 2013, Flathead County purchased a tax lien on Lot 4, Block 1, of Hillcrest Terrace after the property taxes became delinquent. The owner and occupant, James Ralph Connor, did not redeem the property within the thirty-six month redemption period. After the redemption period ended, the County assigned the tax lien to K&J Investments, LLC. O'Brien is a member of K&J Investments. The County sent notice to K&J Investments in January 2017 that the company must provide the notice required under § 15-18-212(1)(b), MCA, within 120 days to the occupant of the property and to each party listed on a property title guarantee, or the County would cancel K&J Investment's property tax lien.

         ¶3 K&J Investments mailed the required notice to the property owner, Connor, on February 17, 2017, and provided proof of notice to the County on March 1, 2017. The notice stated that the redemption period expired on April 21, 2017. K&J Investments mailed the required notice to the occupant of the property on March 10, 2017, and provided proof of notice to the County on March 23, 2017. The notice to the occupant stated that the redemption period expired on May 17, 2017. Both notices were returned unclaimed. O'Brien explains that K&J Investments sent two separate notices with different expiration dates because the County informed K&J Investments that it must send a separate notice to the occupant of the property, even though Connor was both the owner and the occupant.

         ¶4 O'Brien alleged in his petition that on or about May 31, 2017, Flathead County Treasurer, Adele Krantz, allowed Connor to redeem the property. After Connor redeemed the property, K&J Investments attempted to tender a check for the redemption proceeds and requested that a tax deed be issued. The County Treasurer declined to issue a tax deed, informing K&J Investments that the taxpayer has the right to redeem the property up until the time a tax deed is issued.

         ¶5 In September 2017, K&J Investments assigned its interest in the property to O'Brien. Two months later, O'Brien filed his petition for a writ of mandate, arguing that the County Treasurer had a statutory duty to issue a tax deed upon expiration of the time periods outlined in the notices from K&J Investments to the owner and occupant. The District Court denied the petition. O'Brien then filed a motion for reconsideration under Rule 60, which the District Court also denied. O'Brien never served the County Treasurer in the District Court proceedings, and the County did not file any responsive briefing. The County has filed a brief on appeal, and O'Brien has replied.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6 We review a district court's decision to issue or deny a writ of mandamus for correctness. Victor Fed'n of Teachers Local 3494 v. Victor Sch. Dist. No. 7, ...


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