DG Enterprises v. Cornelius

The petitioner, DG Enterprises, LLC-Will Tax, LLC, purchased the 2007 delinquent real estate taxes for a property at 716 Henderson Avenue, Joliet, Illinois, from the Will County collector at a public auction on November 6, 2008. On February 4, 2009, in accord with requirements of section 22-5 of the Tax Code, petitioner drafted and then requested that the Will County clerk send by certified mail the completed "Take Notice I" form to the respondent Lorrayne Cornelius, the owner of record and the party in whose name taxes were last assessed. Petitioner filled in all of the required information for the Take Notice I except the address and phone number for the Will County clerk. The certified mail notice was returned by the post office unclaimed. On July 6, 2011, the same day it filed its petition for tax deed, petitioner placed the take notices required by section 22-25 for mailing with the clerk of the circuit court of Will County. The notice was sent by the clerk of the court by certified mail, and was mailed to “Lorrayne M. Cornelius, Melvin R. Cornelius and Occupants,” at the 716 Henderson Avenue address. Three attempted certified mailings were later returned unclaimed to the clerk by the postal service. The petitioner also took additional steps to complete personal service on the respondent and all other interested parties. On March 14, 2012, the respondent filed an appearance through counsel and a combined motion to dismiss, arguing that petitioner's take notices and publication notices were fatally defective under the applicable statute and failed to comply with due process, depriving the court of jurisdiction and rendered the order for the tax deed void so that it could be attacked at any time. The principal issues presented for the Supreme Court's review in this case were: (1) whether an order issuing a tax deed is void and subject to collateral attack because of the failure to include the address and phone number of the county clerk in the publication and certified mail take notices that were required to be sent to the delinquent owner prior to the issuance of the tax deed; and (2) whether due process standards were violated where certified mail notices to the owner were return unclaimed. The Supreme Court answered both questions in the negative. The Court reversed the appellate court's decision to affirm the circuit court's order vacating petitioner's tax deed. View "DG Enterprises v. Cornelius" on Justia Law