SW Legal studies in Business

Long Dispute over Title to Property Not Subject to Statute of Limitations
Description

Utah high court held that a dispute dating to 1994 about the title to real property was not subject to statute of limitations, so the court today could quiet the title and decide who the holder of the title is. Conflicting claims over the years clouded the title, so it could not be settled until final resolution.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Title; Quiet Title; Claimant; Foreclosure; Statute of Limitations

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Bangerter has continuously occupied the real property at stake in this case since she bought it in 1994. She paid all property taxes on it and has made the mortgage payments due. In 1995, a judgment was entered against her in the amount of $307 for failure to pay for dental services of $67. It resulted in a writ of execution that commanded the sheriff to collect the judgment. A levy was placed against Bangerter’s property and it was sold at public auction for $1,550 to NAR, a collection agency. Bangerter failed to redeem the property within six months, so NAR was given a sheriff’s deed to the property in 1996. NAR filed a quitclaim deed to the property in favor of Jarmaccc Properties. Bangerter claimed she never received notices about the matter until 1998. Even then she was not aware that Jarmaccc held title; she presumed there was only a lien on the property. She filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. At that point she was served with a notice to quit the property by Jarmaccc, but nothing was done. Her bankruptcy was dismissed and she filed again, listing Jarmaccc as a secured creditor with a lien of $1,200 against her property. Jarmaccc received a notice of the bankruptcy plan, which included payment to it, which happened in 2003. Bangerter completed her bankruptcy proceedings and in 2004, filed an action against Jarmaccc to quiet title to the property. She contended that the sheriff’s deed was void and that Jarmaccc was estopped from claiming title to the property as it never objected to the bankruptcy proceedings or payments. After complicated proceedings, the matter was appealed to the Utah high court.

Decision

The action to quiet title brought by Bangerter, who was in actual and continuous possession of the property under a continuous claim of ownership, against Jarmaccc, the buyer at a foreclosure sale, was not governed by any statute of limitations. Hence, Bangerter has the right to bring an action to quiet title to the real estate. The title will be quieted because the original sheriff’s sale failed to convey title as the matter was not settled properly at that time. Further, Jarmaccc failed to object to the bankruptcy plan and Bangerter would be injured because she complied with the bankruptcy plan ordered by the court.

Citation Bangerter v. Petty, ---P.3d--- (2009 WL 3349258, Sup. Ct., Utah, 2009)

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