Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ithaca Finance, LLC v. Lopez

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk

May 6, 2019

ITHACA FINANCE, LLC
v.
WANDA E. LOPEZ & another.

          Heard: January 7, 2019. [1]

          Taxation, Real estate tax: foreclosure of right of redemption. Land Court, Vacation of judgment. Due Process of Law, Notice. Practice, Civil, Vacation of judgment. Notice, Tax taking. Petition filed in the Land Court Department on May 9, 2014. A motion for relief from judgment was heard by the recorder.

          Carl E. Fumarola for the defendant.

          John Connolly, Jr., for the plaintiff.

          Present: Hanlon, Lemire, & Wendlandt, JJ.

          WENDLANDT, J.

         This case requires us to construe G. L. c. 60, §§ 62 and 63, which set forth procedures by which a person may redeem property that has been taken for nonpayment of taxes and extinguish a tax taking of the property. More specifically, we are called on to determine whether one of these procedures __ namely, recording an instrument of redemption __ is available after the assignee of the tax taking on the property has filed a petition to foreclose the right of redemption in the Land Court. Because the commencement of the foreclosure action vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Land Court with regard to the right of redemption, we hold that once a foreclosure action is commenced in the Land Court, a property may not be redeemed by paying the outstanding tax liability directly to the municipality in which the property is located; instead, a party seeking to redeem must follow the procedure specified by the Land Court.

         Background.

         In 2005, the defendant, Wanda Lopez, granted Wells Fargo Financial Massachusetts, Inc. (Wells Fargo), a mortgage on her property (property) in the city of Lawrence (city). Lopez failed to pay real estate taxes for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to the city. In 2009, the city assigned the municipal tax receivables on Lopez's property to Plymouth Park Tax Services LLC (Plymouth Park) as part of a bulk sale pursuant to G. L. c. 60, § 2C.[2] The assignment was duly recorded. In 2010, because the taxes remained unpaid, Plymouth Park effected a tax taking of the property and recorded an instrument of taking on Lopez's property.[3] In 2014, Plymouth Park assigned the instrument of taking to the plaintiff, Ithaca Finance, LLC (Ithaca), and (like the assignment from the city to Plymouth Park) this assignment was duly recorded.

         In May 2014, Ithaca filed the present action in Land Court to foreclose the right of redemption on the property. Lopez and Wells Fargo were served with notice of the pending action. The notice informed them that the action was to foreclose all rights of redemption and that failure to appear by no later than March 7, 2016, would result in a default, "forever barr[ing Lopez and Wells Fargo] from contesting said complaint or any judgment entered thereon."

         Neither Lopez nor Wells Fargo entered an appearance. Instead, in February 2016, Wells Fargo contacted Plymouth Park, which referred Wells Fargo to its lien servicer, Propel Financial Services LLC (Propel). Propel, in turn, informed Wells Fargo that the instrument of taking had been redeemed. The record does not reflect the basis for Propel's statement, and Wells Fargo does not suggest that it made any payment to satisfy the taxes owed. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo received a certificate of redemption[4] in March 2016, which it recorded in May 2016 while the Land Court action was pending. There is no indication in the record that either Lopez or Wells Fargo informed Ithaca or the Land Court judge of this recording.

         Meanwhile, having received no response from any interested person, Ithaca moved for a general default. The motion was allowed, and final judgment entered in June 2016. Over one year later, Wells Fargo filed a motion to vacate the judgment. The judge denied the motion, and this appeal followed.

         Discussion.

         1. Standa ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.