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Goodman v. SeRine

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 31, 2014

VICTOR W. GOODMAN and JACQUELYN C. BURKE, Appellants-Plaintiffs,
v.
STEVEN L. SERINE, SUZANNE M. SERINE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, ROBERT J. DeGRAZIA, MARY ANN DeGRAZIA, and all their Husbands, Wives, Widowers, Widows, Heirs, Devisees, Successors, Assignees, and all other Persons claiming any right, title, or interest in the within described real property by, through, or under them or any other person or entity, including John Doe and Jane Doe, the names of whom are unknown to Plaintiff. Appellees-Defendants

APPEAL FROM THE MORGAN CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Matthew G. Hanson, Judge. Cause No. 55C01-1203-PL-664.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: BRADLEY J. BUCHHEIT, Tucker Hester Baker & Krebs, LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: Attorney for U.S. Dept. of Treasury, IRS, CURTIS C. PETT, Department of Justice, Tax Division, Washington, D.C.

MAY, Judge. BAILEY, J., and BRADFORD, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 482

MAY, Judge.

Victor Goodman and Jacquelyn Burke (collectively, " Goodman" ) appeal a summary judgment in favor of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The court granted summary judgment after finding tax liens remained on property Goodman bought even though a bankruptcy court had ordered the property could be sold free and clear of all liens. As the trial court was not the proper forum for the resolution of that matter, we vacate its judgment and direct it to dismiss Goodman's complaint to quiet title.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Steven and Suzanne SeRine owned a parcel of land in Morgan County. The SeRines had not paid their federal income tax liabilities for 2003, 2005, and 2006, and on March 10, 2008, the IRS filed tax liens against the property. The SeRines filed for bankruptcy on July 22, 2008, and they listed the parcel as an asset. The IRS filed a proof of claim for the unpaid taxes.

Page 483

On August 11, 2008, Goodman and the SeRines executed a land contract for the sale of the parcel[1] to Goodman for $150,000. The contract provided Goodman would pay $20,000 when the contract was executed, $10,000 at an unspecified later date, and the balance through monthly payments over ten years. The contract was explicit that there were encumbrances on the parcel, including the IRS tax liens. On the day the contract was executed the SeRines " executed and delivered the Deed." (App. at 185.) The quitclaim deed was not recorded until February 1, 2010.

On July 8, 2009, the SeRines moved in the bankruptcy court for permission to sell Goodman the same parcel free and clear of all liens. The SeRines' motion asserted they still owned the parcel and did not disclose the August 11, 2008, land contract and deed conveyance. The SeRines represented in their motion that the IRS consented to the sale, but the record reflects there was no " particular individual who consented to the Bankruptcy Motion" on behalf of the IRS. ( Id. at 192.) The bankruptcy court granted the motion on August 5, 2009, but no sale occurred after that date.

The SeRines' bankruptcy case was dismissed October 1, 2009. In March of 2012, Goodman brought a complaint in the Morgan Circuit Court to quiet title to the parcel, naming IRS as a defendant and asserting the IRS liens were extinguished by the bankruptcy court's order. In the motion Goodman noted the quitclaim deed from the SeRines had been recorded in 2010, after the bankruptcy court's order, but Goodman did not acknowledge the land contract execution and deed conveyance had already happened before the bankruptcy court's order the parcel could be sold free and clear of the tax liens.

Both Goodman and the IRS moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the IRS motion. It noted that on " August 11, 2008, the SeRines sold said property to the Plaintiffs and gave them a deed which consummated the sale and delivery of said property," ( id. at 9), and determined title to the parcel passed from the SeRines to Goodman " no later than August 11, 2008." ( Id. at 10.) Therefore, it held, " the elimination ...


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