Assessor v. Stutz Business Center, LLC, 011119 INTAX, 18T-TA-00026

Docket Nº:18T-TA-00026
Opinion Judge:Martha Blood Wentworth, Judge
Party Name:MARION COUNTY ASSESSOR, Petitioner, v. STUTZ BUSINESS CENTER, LLC, Respondent.
Attorney:ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER: JESSICA R. GASTINEAU OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL Indianapolis, IN ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: JEFFREY T. BENNETT BRADLEY D. HASLER BINGHAM GREENEBAUM DOLL LLP Indianapolis, IN
Case Date:January 11, 2019
Court:Tax Court of Indiana
 
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MARION COUNTY ASSESSOR, Petitioner,

v.

STUTZ BUSINESS CENTER, LLC, Respondent.

No. 18T-TA-00026

Tax Court of Indiana

January 11, 2019

ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER: JESSICA R. GASTINEAU OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL Indianapolis, IN

ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: JEFFREY T. BENNETT BRADLEY D. HASLER BINGHAM GREENEBAUM DOLL LLP Indianapolis, IN

ORDER ON RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

Martha Blood Wentworth, Judge

Stutz Business Center, LLC has moved to dismiss the Marion County Assessor's appeal, claiming that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the Assessor failed to timely initiate his appeal and serve the petition directly on Stutz. Upon review, the Court denies Stutz's Motion.

BACKGROUND

On September 17, 2018, the Indiana Board of Tax Review issued a final determination that permitted Stutz to withdraw its administrative appeal over the Assessor's objection. (Resp't Corr. Br. Supp. Mot. Dismiss ("Resp't Br.") at 1.) (See also Pet'r Pet. Original Tax Appeal Final Determination Ind. Bd. Tax Review ("Pet'r Pet.") ¶¶ 3-4, Attach.) On November 1, 2018, the Assessor filed a "Petition for Original Tax Appeal of a Final Determination of the Indiana Board of Tax Review" with the Clerk of the Tax Court challenging the Indiana Board's final determination. (See generally Pet'r Pet.) On the same day, the Petition was served by hand delivery on the Attorney General of Indiana, the Chairman of the Indiana Board, the Assessor, and the two attorneys that represented Stutz at the administrative level. (Pet'r Pet. at 5.) (See also Pet'r Resp. Opp'n Resp't Mot. Dismiss ("Pet'r Br.") at 1.)

On November 2, 2018, the Assessor provided the Clerk with a summons. (Resp't Br. at 2; Pet'r Br. at 1.) That same day, the Clerk mailed the summons and a copy of the Petition to: "Stutz Business Center, LLC[;] 1036 North Capital Avenue[;] Suite C-200[;] Indianapolis, IN 46204[, ]" return receipt requested. (Resp't Br. at 2.) On November 9, 2018, the Clerk received the return receipt. (Resp't Br. at 2.)

On November 21, 2018, Stutz filed a Motion to Dismiss the Assessor's appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction together with its brief in support. On December 10, 2018, after the matter was fully briefed, the Court took Stutz's Motion under advisement. Additional facts will be supplied when necessary.

LAW

Subject matter jurisdiction, the power of a court to hear and determine a particular class of cases, is conferred upon a court by either the Indiana Constitution or statute. Grandville Co-op., Inc. v. O'Connor, 25 N.E.3d 833, 836 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2015). Although challenges regarding the timeliness of filings may be raised by motion under Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the issues raised are "jurisdictional" only in the sense that they involve the statutory prerequisites to docketing an appeal in the Tax Court. See Packard v. Shoopman, 852 N.E.2d 927, 931 (Ind. 2006). Consequently, challenges regarding the timeliness of filings, unlike true subject matter jurisdiction challenges, may be waived or procedurally defaulted if not timely raised. Id. at 929-30.

ANALYSIS

I. Whether the Assessor timely initiated an original tax appeal?

Stutz first argues that the Assessor's appeal must be dismissed because he failed to comply with all the requirements for initiating an appeal under Indiana Trial Rule 3 and Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-5(c). (Resp't Br. at 3-5.) More specifically, Stutz explains that both provisions required the Assessor to provide the Clerk with the Petition and a summons no later than November 1, 2018, but he did not provide the Clerk with a summons until November 2, 2018. (Resp't Br. at 3-5; Resp't Reply Br. Supp. Mot. Dismiss ("Resp't Reply Br.") at 1-3.) Stutz, therefore, contends that the Assessor failed to timely initiate this appeal and his case should be dismissed.

Stutz's argument is premised on its claim that Trial Rule 3, which governs the commencement of civil actions in general, applies to the initiation of original tax appeals in the Tax Court because they are civil actions. (See Resp't Br. at 3 (citing Ind. Tax Court Rule 2...

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