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Ward v. All South Rental Homes, Inc.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

March 24, 2017

Bobby Ward
v.
All South Rental Homes, Inc., and Gary Alan Smith

         Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court (CV-15-904679)

          ON APPLICATION FOR REHEARING

          MOORE, Judge.

         This court's opinion issued on January 27, 2017, is withdrawn, and the following is substituted therefor.

         Bobby Ward appeals from a judgment entered by the Jefferson Circuit Court ("the trial court") permitting All South Rental Homes, Inc., and Gary Alan Smith (hereinafter referred to collectively as "All South") to redeem certain real property located in Jefferson County ("the property") after the property had been sold for unpaid taxes. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Procedural History

         On December 7, 2015, All South filed a complaint seeking permission to redeem the property, which had been purchased by Ward from the State of Alabama, which had purchased the property at a tax sale. Ward answered the complaint on December 16, 2015. On December 17, 2015, Ward filed a motion for a summary judgment. All South responded to the summary-judgment motion on January 13, 2016. Ward filed a reply to All South's response on January 16, 2016.

         On January 29, 2016, the trial court entered a judgment granting Ward's summary-judgment motion, concluding that All South did not have a right to redeem the property. On February 28, 2016, All South filed a postjudgment motion. The trial court entered an order setting aside its summary judgment on May 23, 2016, and setting a hearing to determine the amount required for All South to redeem the property. After a hearing, the trial court entered a judgment on June 23, 2016, providing that All South could redeem the property by paying Ward $4, 206.07.

         On June 23, 2016, Ward filed his notice of appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court; that court subsequently transferred the appeal to this court, pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, § 12-2-7(6).[1]

         Facts

         The undisputed facts indicate that, after All South failed to pay the ad valorem taxes due on the property, the State of Alabama offered the property for sale on May 22, 2012. After no bids were offered, the property was purchased by the State. On August 7, 2015, the State sold the property to Ward. Ward received an ad valorem tax deed; that deed was recorded on August 24, 2015. On August 28, 2015, Ward entered into a three-year lease agreement regarding the property with Brooke Holloway, and, at the time of the entry of the trial court's judgment, Holloway had been in possession of the property since that date.

         Discussion

         I. Finality

         "Although neither party has questioned the finality of the trial court's judgment in this case, jurisdictional matters, such as the question whether an appeal is supported by a final judgment, are of such importance that this court takes notice of them ex mero motu." Eubanks v. McCollum, 828 So.2d 935, 937 (Ala. Civ. App. 2002). We requested the parties to submit letter briefs concerning the finality of the judgment in light of the specific requirements set forth in § 40-10-83, Ala. Code 1975, which provides, in pertinent part:

"Upon [a] determination [regarding the amount owed to a tax-sale purchaser] the court shall enter judgment for the amount so ascertained in favor of the [tax-sale purchaser] against the [redemptioner], and the judgment shall be a lien on the land sued for. Upon the payment into court of the amount of the judgment and costs, the court shall enter judgment for the [redemptioner] for the land, and all title ...

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