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LLC v. Gladney

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

January 14, 2020

WMAC 2013, LLC, Respondent,
v.
DENNIE R. GLADNEY, et al., Appellants.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Honorable Thea A. Sherry

          KURT S. ODENWALD, JUDGE

         Introduction

         Dennie R., Sharon, and Diana Gladney (collectively "the Gladneys") appeal from the trial court's grant of summary judgment to WMAC 2013, LLC ("WMAC13") in a quiet title and ejectment action. In their sole point on appeal, the Gladneys challenge the trial court's entry of summary judgment. The Gladneys contend a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the tax lien certificate on their property was sold to a prohibited purchaser under Section 140.190.2.[1] Because the sale of the tax-deficient property to a statutorily prohibited purchaser does not address a material fact given the circumstances of this case, we deny the Gladneys' point on appeal and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Factual and Procedural History

         Dennie R. and Sharon Gladney acquired the real property at 3815 Brown Road in St. Louis, Missouri ("the Property") in 2010. Subsequently, Dennie R. and Sharon Gladney failed to pay property taxes on the Property. In August 2015, WMAC 2014, LLC ("WMAC14") purchased a tax lien certificate for the Property at a public tax sale auction. In 2016, Dennie R. and Sharon Gladney transferred the Property to their daughter, Diana Gladney.

         The Gladneys did not redeem the Property within the year following the tax sale. Consequently, in September 2016, the St. Louis County Collector of Revenue issued a Collector's Deed for Taxes for the Property ("the Deed") to WMAC14, which later conveyed the Deed to WMAC13. WMAC13 filed a petition to quiet title pursuant to the Deed and to eject Dennie R. and Sharon Gladney from the Property. Subsequently, Diana Gladney was granted leave to intervene.

         WMAC13 moved for summary judgment against the Gladneys on its petition to quiet title. In an attempt to defeat summary judgment, the Gladneys argued that they raised a genuine issue of fact regarding the validity of the Deed. Specifically, the Gladneys offered evidence that WMAC14 was a successor company of WMAC13. The Gladneys maintained that WMAC14's successor liability rendered it a prohibited purchaser at the tax sale under Section 140.190.2 because WMAC13 had failed to pay property taxes on other St. Louis County properties at the time WMAC14 acquired the Property. The Gladneys reasoned that since WMAC14 was a successor company of WMAC13 and WMAC13 was a prohibited purchaser, then WMAC14 was a prohibited purchaser as well. Accordingly, the Gladneys argued that WMAC13 was not entitled to summary judgment on its petition because WMAC14 obtained the Deed through an invalid sale.

         The trial court found that WMAC13 presented a prima facie case for summary judgment and that no credible evidence was presented to successfully challenge the Deed under Section 140.610. Accordingly, the trial court granted summary judgment. The Gladneys now appeal.

         Point on Appeal

         In their sole point on appeal, the Gladneys contend that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. The Gladneys maintain that they raised a genuine issue of fact regarding WMAC14's status as a prohibited purchaser in the tax sale, which, if shown, would render WMAC13's title invalid and, as a matter of law, defeat its right to judgment on the petition to quiet title.

         Standard of Review

         We review an appeal from summary judgment de novo. Farrow v. Saint Francis Med. Ctr., 407 S.W.3d 579, 587 (Mo. banc 2013) (citing ITT Commercial Fin. Corp. v. Mid-Am. Marine Supply Corp., 854 S.W.2d 371, 376 (Mo. banc 1993)). "[We review] the record in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was entered and afford[] that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences." Id. (citing Lewis v. Gilmore, 366 S.W.3d 522, 524 (Mo. banc 2012)). We also review questions of ...


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