Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
IN THE MATTER OF FORECLOSURE OF LIENS FOR DELINQUENT LAND TAXES BY ACTION IN REM COLLECTOR OF REVENUE, CITY OF ST. LOUIS, MO, Plaintiff,
PARCELS OF LAND ENCUMBERED WITH DELINQUENT TAX LIENS, Defendants, MATHEW BRADFORD, Appellant,
PETER KELLY, COLLECTOR OF REVENUE, CITY OF ST. LOUIS, and SHERIFF, CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Respondents.
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Honorable
T. Quigless, P.J.
Bradford ("Bradford") appeals the circuit
court's judgment setting aside the default judgment
against a parcel of property described as parcel 180-050,
located at 2618 Dalton Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri; finding
the Sheriff's sale of the property to Bradford null and
void; and rendering Bradford's motion to confirm the sale
moot. We dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
and Procedural History
October 2014, the Collector of Revenue for the City of St.
Louis ("the Collector") filed a petition and list
of parcels of land encumbered with delinquent taxes. The
petition listed parcels of real estate which, on January 1,
2014, were delinquent in the payment of taxes to the City of
St. Louis for a period of two years or more. Included in the
list of delinquent parcels was real property described as
parcel 180-050, located at 2618 Dalton Avenue, St. Louis,
Missouri ("the property").The petition listed Robert L. Kelly
("Robert Kelly") as the last named owner of record
of the property, and it listed the property as his mailing
address. However, Robert Kelly died in March 2013 and, at the
time the petition was filed, he was deceased and ownership of
the property had vested in his heirs.
the petition was filed, the Collector caused notice of filing
of the petition to be published, and notice was also mailed
to Robert Kelly's address on Dalton Avenue. Upon default,
the circuit court entered a judgment of foreclosure against
the property ("default judgment"). The court
directed the property to be sold by the Sheriff of the City
of St. Louis to satisfy the tax lien. Thereafter, Bradford
purchased the property at the Sheriff's tax foreclosure
sale. Bradford subsequently filed a motion to confirm the
land tax sale.
to the confirmation hearing, Peter Kelly ("Kelly"),
the son of the deceased Robert Kelly, learned of the
foreclosure sale and filed a motion to intervene, which the
court granted. Then, Kelly filed a motion to set aside
judgment of foreclosure, arguing, inter alia, that
neither Kelly nor the heirs of Robert Kelly received notice
of the land tax suit, the intended sale, or the right to
redeem the property.
January 7, 2016, the circuit court held a hearing on the
motion to set aside. At the hearing, Kelly testified as
follows: After Robert Kelly's death, the family hired an
attorney to open a probate estate and take care of the
property not in trust. When Kelly realized the attorney was
not adequately handling the property, he went online to the
Collector's website and learned there was one year of
taxes owed on the property. However, the Collector's
website provided, "A tax suit is filed when unpaid taxes
are delinquent for three years. The tax sale occurs
approximately one year after the suit is filed." Kelly
attempted to pay the taxes online but was unable to do so.
Then, Kelly went to the Collector's office where he was
told the property had been sold. Kelly testified neither he
nor the heirs of Robert Kelly received notice of the land tax
suit or the intended sale of the property. Kelly testified
they stood ready, willing, and able to pay any delinquent tax
court took the motion under submission and scheduled the
confirmation hearing for a later date. On January 13, 2016,
the circuit court entered judgment setting aside the default
judgment, finding the Sheriff's sale null and void, and
rendering the motion to confirm the sale moot. The court
concluded the heirs exhibited due diligence in handling the
affairs of Robert Kelly by hiring an estate attorney and
conducting their own investigation. The court found the heirs
reasonably relied on the Collector's website, which
provided that a tax suit would only be filed when unpaid
taxes were delinquent for three years. The court found the
heirs did not receive notice of the lawsuit, the intended
sale, or the right to redeem the property. Further, the court
concluded the heirs stood ready, willing, and able to
immediately pay outstanding tax obligations, interest,
penalties, and cost of suit to satisfy the obligations.
filed a motion to reconsider or, in the alternative, to set
bond amount for appeal. The court denied the motion. On
February 1, 2016, Bradford filed a notice of appeal. On
February 26, 2016, the Collector dismissed with prejudice its
action against the property.
preliminary matter, we must address whether this Court has
jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Kelly challenges our
jurisdiction on appeal, arguing that (1) the circuit
court's judgment setting aside the default judgment was
neither final and appealable nor was it certified for appeal
pursuant to Rule 74.01(b),  and (2) when the Collector filed its
dismissal with prejudice, the circuit court and, therefore,
this Court lost jurisdiction over the matter. We agree with
order for this Court to have jurisdiction, there must be a
final and appealable judgment. Acclaim Systems, Inc. v.
Lohutko, 247 S.W.3d 601, 603 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). A
decision of a circuit court is "final and appealable
only when it disposes of all the issues for all parties in
the case and leaves nothing for future determination."
Bellon Wrecking & Salvage v. Dave Orf, Inc., 956
S.W.2d 437, 438 (Mo. App. E.D. 1997) (internal citation
omitted). However, Rule 74.01(b) provides an exception to the
finality rule, "permitting a trial court to enter
judgment on a single claim when multiple claims are asserted
in a single case and certify its judgment as appealable upon
an express ...