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D.A.Y. Investments LLC v. Lake County

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 29, 2018

D.A.Y. Investments LLC, Andy's Truck & Equipment Co., Gold Coast Rand Development Co., Surplus Management Systems LLC, Gary II LLC and Andrew Young, Appellants-Plaintiffs/Cross-Appellees,
v.
Lake County, Indiana, Treasurer Peggy Holinga-Katona, Auditor John Petalas, Commissioners Roosevelt Allen, Jr., Gerry Scheub, Michael Repay, and Township Assessor Jackie Collins, Appellees-Defendants, and Assessor Jerome Prince, Appellee-Defendant/Cross-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Lake Superior Court The Honorable Bruce D. Parent, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 45D04-1601-PL-1

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS Corbin R. Fowler Gary, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES LAKE COUNTY AUDITOR, TREASURER AND COMMISSIONERS Randy H. Wyllie Wieser & Wyllie, LLP Schererville, Indiana ATTORNEY FOR APPELLE CALUMET TOWNSHIP ASSESSOR JACKIE COLLINS Kevin Chandler Smith Smith Sersic Munster, Indiana ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE LAKE COUNTY ASSESSOR JEROME PRINCE Tony Walker Leanna Weissmann The Walker Law Group, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana

          ROBB, JUDGE.

         Case Summary and Issue

         [¶1] D.A.Y. Investments, LLC; Andy's Truck & Equipment Company; Gold Coast Rand Development Company; Surplus Management Systems, LLC; Gary II, LLC; and Andrew Young (collectively, "Owners") sued Lake County, Indiana; Peggy Holinga-Katona, Treasurer; Jerome Prince, Assessor; John Petalas, Auditor; Roosevelt Allen, Jr., Gerry Scheub, and Michael Repay, Commissioners; and Jackie Collins, Township Assessor (collectively, "Lake County Defendants"), for specific performance of a settlement agreement the parties entered into regarding taxes due on properties owned by the Owners. The trial court granted the Lake County Defendants' motion to dismiss alleging lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding the Owners' claims were based on disputes that should have been first addressed through an administrative process. The Owners appeal, raising the following issue for our review: whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying their motion to correct error after the trial court granted the Lake County Defendants' motion to dismiss their complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(1). Concluding the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over this case arising under tax laws, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Young owns approximately 1, 800 properties in Lake County either individually or through his various business entities named above. In 2009, the Owners filed voluntary petitions for bankruptcy in federal court in Illinois. As part of the bankruptcy action, the Owners sought protection from Lake County with respect to taxes owed on those properties. On February 29, 2012, the bankruptcy court approved a written settlement agreement between the Owners and the Lake County Defendants. The settlement agreement provided, in pertinent part:

1. That attached hereto and marked Exhibit A is a listing of all the properties that are the subject of the controversy herein . . . . The sixth column consists of the assessed valuation that the parties have agreed upon for the taxable years involved in each property to and including 2010 taxes, payable in 2011. . . .
2. That pursuant to said Exhibit A, the parties now agree that the following amounts are due to Lake County for all taxes on all properties to and including 2010 taxes, payable 2011 . . . .
3. To resolve all of the above pending appeals the [Owners] and the county assessor now agree as follows:
A. The [Owners] shall pay the following sum to Lake County, Indiana: $904, 954.58.
** *
C. The payment of the sum listed in paragraph 3a above shall settle all of the tax claims due and owing from the [Owners] for all of the property and years identified in paragraph 2.
4. The parties further agree that the [Owners] herein will pay the above stated amount over a period of twenty-four (24) months subject to the following:
E. The [Owners] recognize that during the period of scheduled payments as set forth above, any of the real estate listed herein that they will continue to be the fee simple owners of will have taxes due and owing for the ...

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