Mennonite Board of Missions v. Adams
SCOTUS - 1983 (462 U.S. 791)
- Moore executed a mortgage in favor of P in order to pay off $14k debt. Moore was responsible for paying taxes on the land. The taxes were never paid.
- The county provided notice as required under statute and published an announcement of the tax sale and mailed notice to Moore by certified mail. P was not informed of the sale by the county or by Moore.
- The property was sold to D.
- Moore continued making payments to P for the land. Over two years later, P learned of the tax sale and claimed that it had not received proper notice.
- Lower court found for D.
- IN Court of Appeals affirmed, found for D.
- SCOTUS reversed, found for P, notice insufficient.
- Does notice by publication and posting provide a mortgagee of real property with adequate notice of a proceeding to sell the mortgaged property for nonpayment of taxes?
- Notice by publication and posting does not provide a mortgagee of real property with adequate notice of a proceeding to sell the mortgaged property for nonpayment of taxes.
- If the address of the mortgagee can reasonably be ascertained by reasonably diligent efforts, notice by publication must be supplemented by notice mailed to the mortgagee's last known available address or by personal service.
- Notice to the property owner, who has failed to take necessary steps to preserve his own interest in the property, cannot be expected to lead to actual notice to the mortgagee.
- A party's inability to take steps to safeguard its interests does not relieve the state of its constitutional obligation.
- The ruling goes against Mullane by giving a formula to follow to provide adequate notice.
- It is unclear how far a state must go to ascertain the name and address of the affected party (in all previous cases the court decided, the address of the party was known).
- "Reasonable" efforts might be a sizeable burden to the state.