Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Crowell v. Cox

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

August 8, 2017

EDWARD CROWELL, et al, Appellant,
v.
DAVID COX, COUNTY ASSESSOR, Respondent.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PLATTE COUNTY The Honorable James W.Van Amburg, Judge

          Before: James E. Welsh, Presiding Judge, Lisa White Hardwick and Gary D. Witt, Judges

          LISA WHITE HARDWICK, JUDGE.

         Edward J. and Patricia A. Crowell ("the Crowells") appeal the circuit court's dismissal of their petition for declaratory relief and mandamus after the Missouri State Tax Commission ("Commission") affirmed the assessed value of their property as determined by David Cox, the Platte County Assessor ("Assessor"). The Crowells contend the court erred in dismissing their petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because they stated a recognized cause of action. For reasons explained herein, we reverse and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Factual and Procedural History

         In October 2014, the Crowells bought property in Parkville for $230, 000. After purchasing the property, they researched the property's assessment history. They found that, in 2007, the property experienced an increase in appraised value from $48, 832 to $57, 645, due to a county-wide reassessment of all properties. In December 2007, the property was sold to Barry Solomon and Fleury Yelvington for $234, 000. According to the Crowells, the appraised / assessed values of the property more than quadrupled in 2008, from $57, 645 / $10, 953 to $230, 660 / $43, 825. Solomon and Yelvington never protested the increased assessment when they owned the property.

         Upon discovering this assessment history, the Crowells contacted Assessor, but he offered no explanation of the process or methodology for the increased assessment in 2007. The Crowells engaged in informal negotiations with Assessor to have the assessed value of their property reduced. In May 2015, Assessor advised them that he would reduce the appraised / assessed values on the property from $230, 660 / $43, 825 to $210, 660 / $40, 025.

         Dissatisfied with the reduction, the Crowells continued discussions with Assessor. Assessor suggested that the county appraiser visit the property to determine if a further reduction was warranted. The county appraiser visited the property and determined that no further reduction would be made.

         The Crowells then filed an appeal to the Platte County Board of Equalization ("BOE"). They appeared before the BOE at a hearing in July 2015. The Crowells argued that the assessment violated Section 137.115.1, RSMo 201 6, [1] and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Assessor offered a copy of the county appraiser's July 2015 appraisal setting the property's appraised value at $210, 660. Following the hearing, the BOE confirmed the appraised / assessed values to be $210, 660 / $40, 025.

         The Crowells appealed to the Commission and asserted the same grounds for reversal as they had before the BOE. In December 2015, a hearing officer with the Commission issued a decision and order affirming the BOE's determination. The Crowells then filed an application for review of the hearing officer's decision. On April 26, 2016, The Commission entered a decision and order affirming the hearing officer's decision.

         On May 24, 2016, the Crowells filed a petition in the circuit court. The first allegation in their petition was that they were filing "this petition for a de novo review of a Final Order and Decision Of the State Tax Commission dated April 26, 2016 pursuant to RSMo. 536.100 through 536.140." In their "Allegations Common to All Counts, " the Crowells detailed the property's assessment history; their discussions with Assessor about the assessment; and their appeals to the BOE, the Commission hearing officer, and the Commission and the arguments they raised in those appeals. The Crowells then asserted two counts for declaratory judgment and one count for writ of mandamus. In their first declaratory judgment count, the Crowells alleged that Assessor "allowed an illegally imposed assessment or derivative thereof to be applied to [their] property and [they] have suffered pecuniary loss thereby." In their second declaratory judgment count, they alleged that the increased appraised / assessed values of their property violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and that the procedure undertaken by Assessor raising the appraised value violated his duties under article X, section 4(b) of the Missouri Constitution and Section 137.115.1. The Crowells requested a declaration of their rights and Assessor's duties under article X, section 4(b) of the Missouri Constitution, Section 137.115.1, and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. In their mandamus count, the Crowells asserted that Assessor failed to perform his ministerial duty to assess residential properties at their true value in money, and they requested that the court issue a writ compelling him to assess all real property in Platte County at the statutorily provided percentage of its true value in money.

         Seven days later, Assessor filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In the motion, Assessor alleged that the Crowells' petition sought relief that the court was unable to provide. Assessor also alleged that the circuit court's de novo review was to be based on the record as filed, and the Crowells had not yet filed the record. The Crowells filed the record on August 29, 2016, three months after they filed their petition.

         The court held arguments on Assessor's motion to dismiss on September 2, 2016. Following arguments, the court granted Assessor's motion and dismissed the case. Three weeks after the court entered its judgment dismissing the case, the Crowells filed a motion for leave to amend the petition and a motion for enlargement of time in which the court could hear and rule on their motion for leave to amend the petition. The court subsequently entered an order denying the motion for enlargement of time. The Crowells appeal.

         Standard ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.