Civil Law

April 2, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 524 concerning tax deeds and conveyance documents, sponsored by Rep. Steuerwald. This bill provides that when a county auditor sends out certain notices for a tax sale by certified mail, the notices must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. The bill also requires that a verified petition for a tax deed to real property acquired in a tax sale must include copies of various notices sent by the petitioner, copies of certified mail mailing receipts, copies of certified mail return receipts, returned mailing envelopes, and evidence used by the petitioner to ascertain the owner of property and any other persons with a substantial property interest of public record in the property. The bill also provides that a tax deed is not prima facie evidence of the validity of a tax sale, if the petitioner for the tax deed fails to include with the petition the copies of notices, copies of mailing receipts, return receipts, returned mailing envelopes, and copies or descriptions of the evidence used to ascertain the owner and other persons having a substantial property interest of public record in the property. It also provides that a tax deed that does not comply with certain filing requirements is validly recorded, regardless of when it is recorded. An amendment was introduced concerning serial tax delinquencies, which was adopted by consent.  A second amendment was introduced concerning the exemption of certain documents from production, and a third amendment was introduced allowing a tax deed to act as prima facie evidence of a sale in certain instances. Extensive discussion and testimony from the Marion County auditor, a local tax attorney, the Association of Indiana Counties, and an attorney from the probate, trust and real property section of the Indiana State Bar Association was received.  There was no vote on the second or third amendments, and the bill was held.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 531 concerning various tax sale matters sponsored by Rep. Price. Author Sen. Head explained that it amends the tax sale statute to reflect current caselaw and makes procedural changes to make the process more efficient.  Regarding the procedural changes, the bill provides that:

  1. a purchaser of real property by an installment land contract may request notice of the tax sale list;
  2. adds an alternative provision for a county executive to transfer a tax sale property to a nonprofit entity, and for purposes of these provisions, defines the “county executive” of Marion County to mean the board of commissioners (consisting of the county auditor, county treasurer, and county assessor);
  3. a county treasurer may use money held on a person’s behalf in the tax sale surplus fund to pay property taxes and special assessments that become due during the tax sale redemption period;
  4. a court may consider a petition for a tax deed without conducting a hearing if there are not any written objections filed;
  5. the amount required for redemption of property includes all taxes, assessments, interest, and penalties that are delinquent after the sale; and,
  6. a political subdivision may conduct an electronic auction of surplus real property held by the political subdivision.

The bill also repeals the following:

  1. a provision authorizing a county to adopt an ordinance allowing a county auditor to accept a bid that is less than the minimum bid normally required by the tax sale statute;
  2. a provision requiring the State Board of Accounts to specify a form of tax deed to use when a grantee other than a purchaser takes the tax deed;
  3. several provisions that specify what action to take if the tax deed is ineffectual to convey title to tax sale property;
  4. a provision specifying how a grantee of a tax deed recovers money owed to the grantee in the context of an action to quiet title filed by the grantee; and,
  5. an obsolete provision that allowed a county to adopt an ordinance requiring the county treasurer to waive certain penalties and interest on delinquent property taxes.

The bill also makes additional conforming changes. Testimony was received supporting the bill by a representative from Synergistic Resources Integration, a company that conducts tax sales throughout the state, who explained several provisions of the bill.  The bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1015, sponsored by Sens. Merritt, Head and Broden, allowing a business entity to incorporate as a benefit corporation under Indiana law. A benefit corporation allows a company to make a profit while protecting non-profit like objectives, to promote “social entrepreneurship.” The bill passed 6-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1045, sponsored by Sen. Ford, creating recreational facility immunity. This bill specifies the duties and responsibilities of the users and the operator of a recreational facility operated by an elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational institution. It also specifies that the operator of such a recreational facility who fulfills the operator’s duties and responsibilities has a complete defense to a civil action. The bill was amended to clarify the definition of “recreational user” and limit the immunity to those using the facility for its primary purpose. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1050, sponsored by Sen. Glick, on actions against a surveyor. This bill provides that an action to recover damages for a deficiency in a land survey must be brought against the surveyor not later than 10 years after the date of the survey. The bill also sets forth requirements for a notice of survey letter to an adjoining landowner. It also provides that an action for damages for a survey completed before July 1, 2015, may not be brought against a surveyor unless the action is commenced within 15 years after the date of the survey. The statute of limitations was amended for all claims to 10 years after the date of the survey. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1102, sponsored by Sen. Steele, on patent protection. This bill prohibits a person from asserting a claim of patent infringement in bad faith and provides that a court may, upon motion, require a person to post a bond if the target establishes a reasonable likelihood that the person has made an assertion of patent infringement in bad faith. It also provides that a claim of patent infringement is not made in bad faith if certain conditions apply to the person making the claim. The legislation also establishes remedies, damages, and civil penalties. The bill was amended to exempt from the provisions regarding bad faith assertions of patent infringement: (1) approved post-secondary educational institutions; (2) technology transfer organizations owned by or affiliated with approved post-secondary educational institution; and (3) licensees holding patents from postsecondary educational institutions or technology transfer organizations owned by or affiliated with postsecondary educational institutions. A representative of Purdue University testified in favor of the amendment. The bill passed 7-1.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1358, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Broden, on garnishment of state tax refunds. This bill provides that if a debt has been reduced to a judgment in Indiana and the judgment has not been satisfied, set aside, or discharged in bankruptcy, the judgment creditor may garnish a state tax refund otherwise due to the debtor. It specifies the procedures that the judgment creditor must follow in obtaining the garnishment from the Department of State Revenue and allows a writ of garnishment to be electronically filed with the Department of State Revenue. The bill was amended to exclude from garnishment debt subject to a repayment plan if the repayment plan has not been breached. The amendment also exempts 50% of a joint tax refund from garnishment if there is no objection to the garnishment, and establishes a procedure to exclude from garnishment that portion of a tax refund attributable to a spouse of the debtor who is not obligated to pay the debt. The amended bill passed 8-0.