Submitted April 10, 2018
from the Board of Tax Appeals, Nos. 2015-657 and 2015-658.
R. Mann, L.L.C., and Jesse R. Mann; and Aryeh I. Dori, for
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Saundra Curtis-Patrick, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney, for appellees Cuyahoga County Board of Revision and
Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer.
Brindza, McIntyre & Seed, L.L.P., and David H. Seed, for
appellee Cleveland Municipal School District Board of
1} This is a real-property tax case on appeal from
the Board of Tax Appeals ("BTA"). Appellant, Julia
Realty, Ltd., the property's owner, challenges the
BTA's application of collateral estoppel to its
continuing complaint for tax years 2013 and 2014.
2} In February 2013, Julia Realty purchased the
property at issue through an auction sale for $367, 500. In
its original complaint for tax year 2012 (a reappraisal year
in Cuyahoga County), Julia Realty contended that the purchase
price constituted the value of the property. Both appellee
Cuyahoga County Board of Revision ("the BOR") and
the BTA retained appellee Cuyahoga County fiscal
officer's valuation of $1, 408, 700. In affirming the
BOR's determination, the BTA relied on the then-recent
decision of this court in Olentangy Local Schools Bd. of
Edn. v. Delaware Cty. Bd. of Revision, 141 Ohio St.3d
243, 2014-Ohio-4723, 23 N.E.3d 1086, and held that Julia
Realty had not adequately demonstrated that the auction-sale
price constituted the property's true value.
3} Julia Realty invoked the BOR's
continuing-complaint jurisdiction for tax years 2013 and 2014
and presented additional evidence that the auction-sale price
reflected the true value of the property. But appellee
Cleveland Municipal School District Board of Education
("the BOE") argued that it was too late to present
additional evidence regarding the nature of the sale, because
Julia Realty was bound by the earlier determination for tax
year 2012 that the sale was not at arm's length.
The BOR agreed and retained the original value for tax years
2013 and 2014. On appeal, the BTA held that the doctrine of
collateral estoppel applied, thereby barring Julia Realty
from relitigating the arm's-length-sale issue on the
continuing complaint. We hold that the BTA acted reasonably
and lawfully in applying collateral estoppel, and we
4} On April 1, 2013, Julia Realty filed a complaint
challenging the 2012 reappraisal value determined by the
fiscal officer, arguing that the purchase price of the
property at an auction sale constituted its value. The BOE
filed a countercomplaint. After conducting a hearing, the BOR
decided to retain the fiscal officer's valuation, as the
BOE had requested.
5} The BOR issued its decision on October 22, 2013,
and Julia Realty appealed to the BTA on November 21, 2013.
During the pendency of the BTA appeal, we issued our decision
in Olentangy Local Schools, 141 Ohio St.3d 243,
2014-Ohio-4723, 23 N.E.3d 1086, in which we held that
"R.C. 5713.04 establishes a presumption that a sale
price from an auction is not evidence of a property's
value" but the presumption "may be rebutted by
evidence showing that the sale occurred at arm's length
between typically motivated parties," id. at
6} The BTA rendered its decision without holding a
hearing; that decision was issued on February 2, 2015. BTA
Nos. 2013-6048 and 2013-6049, 2015 WL 750599 (Feb. 2, 2015).
Relying on Olentangy Local Schools, the BTA noted
that the sale at issue involved an auction and that under
Olentangy Local Schools, Julia Realty had the burden
to show that the sale was at arm's length, which it
failed to do. 2015 WL 750599 at *2. The BTA therefore
affirmed the BOR's decision retaining the fiscal
officer's original valuation.
7} Julia Realty did not appeal the BTA's
decision, nor did it seek a rehearing with respect to the
tax-year-2012 value. Instead, Julia Realty invoked the
BOR's continuing-complaint jurisdiction for tax years
2013 and 2014 by sending request letters dated March 3 and 4,
2015, which were file-stamped as received on March 5 and 9,
2015. On May 13, 2015, the BOR held a hearing on the
continuing complaint, at which Julia Realty presented the
testimony of its principal regarding the circumstances of the
sale plus some documentation regarding that transaction. The
BOE argued that Julia Realty was precluded from relitigating
the arm' s-length ...