Recently, in Town of Danvers v. Rogers, the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued an unpublished decision (pdf) upholding the Land Court’s denial of an estate’s motion to vacate a judgment for the plaintiff town in a tax lien foreclosure proceeding. Rackemann filed an amicus brief (pdf) on behalf of the Danvers Housing Authority – a potential beneficiary of the taking – urging the Appeals Court to affirm the Land Court’s ruling.
The case turned on whether the deceased landowner had received “adequate notice” of the foreclosure proceeding. The estate’s administrator filed the motion to vacate some five months after the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. The administrator claimed that the landowner had not received adequate notice of the proceeding, even though the landowner had signed for a certified letter enclosing the foreclosure petition, and later discussed it with a town official by telephone. The administrator argued that because a subsequent certified letter to the landowner at his Florida home was signed for by another person, the landowner was not afforded adequate notice.
The Appeals Court held that “due process requires ‘only notice reasonably calculated, under all of the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action, and afford them an opportunity to present their objections.'” The lesson here is that one should never turn a blind eye to notice, especially when the result can be the loss of property.