875 So.2d 443 (Fla. 2004), SC02-2721, Delta Property Management, Inc. v. Profile Investments, Inc.

Docket Nº:SC02-2721.
Citation:875 So.2d 443, 29 Fla. L. Weekly S 228
Opinion Judge:The opinion of the court was delivered by: Quince, J.
Party Name:DELTA PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, INC., Petitioner, v. PROFILE INVESTMENTS, INC., Respondent.
Attorney:John R. Beranek of Ausley & McMullen, Tallahassee, Florida; and John R.
Case Date:May 13, 2004
Court:Supreme Court of Florida
 
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Page 443

875 So.2d 443 (Fla. 2004)

29 Fla. L. Weekly S 228

DELTA PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, INC., Petitioner,

v.

PROFILE INVESTMENTS, INC., Respondent.

No. SC02-2721.

Supreme Court of Florida.

May 13, 2004.

John R. Beranek of Ausley & McMullen, Tallahassee, FL; and John R. Hargrove and W. Kent Brown of Heinrich, Gordon, Hargrove, Weihe & James, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, FL, for Petitioner.

William S. Graessle of William S. Graessle & Associates, Jacksonville, FL, for Respondent.

QUINCE, J.

We have for review a decision of the First District Court of Appeal which affects a class of state or constitutional officers. Delta Prop. Mgmt. v. Profile Invs., Inc., 830 So.2d 867 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const. For the reasons stated below, we quash the First District's decision and hold that the clerk of the circuit court, when mailing the notice of a tax deed sale to the titleholder of the affected property, must mail the notice to the address of the titleholder as listed in the latest tax assessment roll. If the tax assessment roll is updated after the clerk receives a statement from the tax collector but prior to mailing the notice to the titleholder, the clerk must look at the new

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assessment roll to see if the titleholder's address has changed and, if the clerk finds that the address has changed, the clerk must mail the notice to the new address listed in the latest assessment roll.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

When Delta Property Management, Inc. (Delta) failed to pay its 1997 ad valorem taxes, a tax certificate was issued 1 by the City of Jacksonville/Duval County Tax Authority and purchased by Profile Investments, Inc. in April 1998. 2 In April 2000, after Delta failed to redeem the tax certificate within two years, Profile applied for a tax deed pursuant to section 197.502(1), Florida Statutes (1999). Section 197.502(1), provides in pertinent part:

The holder of any tax certificate, other than the county, at any time after 2 years have elapsed since April 1 of the year of issuance of the tax certificate and before the expiration of 7 years from the date of issuance, may file the certificate and an application for a tax deed with the tax collector of the county where the lands described in the certificate are located. The application may be made on the entire parcel of property or any part thereof which is capable of being readily separated from the whole.

Thereafter, the tax collector, pursuant to section 197.502(4), Florida Statutes (1999), 3 prepared a statement which listed Delta as a party entitled to notice and specified Delta's address as it appeared on the 1999 tax assessment roll, the most recent assessment roll at the time of the issuance of the statement. The tax collector forwarded the statement to the clerk of the circuit court on May 30, 2000. The clerk then waited over three months before preparing a notice of tax sale, which was mailed to Delta on September 7, 2000, at the address indicated in the tax collector's statement. Because Delta was no longer located at the address specified in the statement, 4 the notice was returned to the clerk as undeliverable. Profile thereafter placed the winning bid at the tax deed sale.

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Profile brought an action to quiet title to the property in its favor, and Delta counterclaimed, asserting that it was still the titleholder because the clerk had failed to provide proper notice of the sale. Profile and Delta each moved for summary judgment with the dispositive legal issue being whether the clerk had complied with the statutory notice requirements of section 197.522(1), Florida Statutes (1999), when he relied exclusively upon the tax collector's statement in preparing the notice of the tax sale. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Profile, concluding that the clerk was not required to look beyond the statement to determine whether the names and addresses of the parties were correctly listed on the tax collector's statement. The First District Court of Appeal agreed and affirmed the summary judgment.

We exercise our discretionary jurisdiction to review this case because it affects the duties of a class of state or constitutional officers, the clerks of court.

ANALYSIS

The issue in this case is whether, under chapter 197 of the Florida Statutes, the clerk of the circuit court must verify the legal titleholder's address prior to mailing the notice of the tax deed sale to that titleholder if the tax assessment roll has been or should have been updated after the tax collector provided the clerk with the tax collector's statement. We hold that the clerk is so required.

Section 197.502(4) provides that, when the holder of a tax certificate applies for a tax deed, the tax collector must deliver to the clerk of the circuit...

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