Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
WOODS COVE II, L.L.C. PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
TERRENCE WILLIAMS, ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
APPELLANT Terrence Williams, pro se
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE For Woods Cove II, L.L.C. and
Mountainside Realty Ventures, L.L.C. David T. Brady Andrew M.
Tomko Austin B. Barnes, III Suzanne M. Godenswager Brian
Steven Gozelanczyk Sandhu Law Group, L.L.C.
Listed: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Federal Trade
Commission Ohio Bar Association For United States of America
U.S. District Attorney Civil Process Clerk
Stewart, J., Keough, A.J., and E.T. Gallagher, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. STEWART, JUDGE.
Defendant-appellant Terrence Williams appeals, pro se, from
the trial court order forfeiting real property to
plaintiff-appellee Mountainside Realty Ventures, L.L.C.,
successor in interest to plaintiff Woods Cove II, L.L.C. We
affirm the decision of the trial court.
At the outset of this litigation, Williams owned an interest
in the property that was subject to various claims by
defendants who are not parties to this appeal. While the case
was pending in the trial court, Williams passed his interest
in the property to his mother, Geri Upton, who then conveyed
half of that interest back to Williams such that, as Williams
states in his brief, each owned a one-half interest in the
property. Upton was not named in the initial
complaint, and the docket does not indicate that she was ever
added as a party or entered an appearance in the case.
Nevertheless, Mountainside, Williams, and the trial court all
refer to her as a codefendant.
There is little disagreement between the parties regarding
the facts in this case. Woods Cove purchased tax certificates
relating to Williams's property. It brought this tax
certificate foreclosure action against Williams claiming the
amounts he owed on the certificates were due and unpaid.
Service was perfected, although Williams never answered the
complaint or entered a formal appearance. Woods Cove filed an
unopposed motion for default judgment that the trial court
granted. The court then granted a decree of foreclosure.
Woods Cove made numerous attempts to have the property sold
by the county sheriff. During the pendency of this case,
Williams and Upton filed seven bankruptcies. Some of these
bankruptcy filings interrupted attempted sales of the
property and caused them to be withdrawn. Nevertheless, two
sales attempts were completed. Because the sales attempts
were completed but the property remained unsold for want of a
bidder, pursuant to R.C. 5721.40, the court ordered that the
property be forfeited to Mountainside, the successor in
interest to Woods Cove.
Williams assigns two errors for our review: that the trial
court erred in disregarding Woods Cove's purported
violation of an automatic stay filed on November 4, 2016, and
that the court erred by granting Woods Cove a decree of
forfeiture in light of the most recent bankruptcy filed. The
assignments of error flow from the same premise: that the
most recent bankruptcy filed, Upton's third within one
year, created an automatic stay of the proceedings before the
The only question before this court is what effect, if any,
Upton's third bankruptcy filing had on the underlying
case. We resolve that the bankruptcy had no effect on the
proceedings and did not cause an automatic stay.
R.C. 5721.40 directs a trial court to forfeit a tax
certificate property, when the property is twice offered for
sale pursuant to R.C. 5721.39, but remains unsold for want of
a bidder. In those cases, the court is required to forfeit
the property to the certificate holder who filed the
foreclosure request under R.C. 5721.37.
In this case, on September 22, 2016, the court ordered the
sheriff to sell the subject property on November 7, 2016, and
if unsuccessful, the court ordered that a second attempt be
made on November 21, 2016. The docket reflects that on
November 21, the sheriff filed a return of sale indicating
compliance with the order, and that the property had not sold
for want of a bidder. In light of these failed sales, on
December 19, 2016, the court forfeited the property to