Submitted January 30, 2019
from the Court of Appeals for Darke County, No. 16CA00004,
2017-Ohio-4322 and 2017-Ohio-7744.
Thompson Hine, L.L.P., and Terry W. Posey Jr., for appellant.
M. Engel Co., L.P.A., and Andrew M. Engel; and DannLaw, Brian
D. Flick, Marc E. Dann, and William C. Behrens, for
Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, L.L.P., H. Grant
Stephenson, and L. Bradfield Hughes, urging reversal for
amici curiae Independent Community Bankers of America and
Community Bankers Association of Ohio.
Marchal & Marchal Ltd. and John Marchal Jr., urging
reversal for amicus curiae Greenville National Bank.
Offices of Stephen D. Miles and Stephen D. Miles, urging
reversal for amicus curiae Farmers and Merchants Bank.
Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, L.L.P., and H. Grant
Stephenson, urging reversal for amicus curiae Osgood State
Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, L.L.P., and Tami Hart
Kirby, urging reversal for amicus curiae Twin Valley Bank.
1} This appeal requires us to address once again
what constitutes a final, appealable foreclosure decree.
Before reaching us, the long, winding path of this
foreclosure action included two intermediate-court appeals
initiated by appellees, Steven and Karen Sponaugle.
2} The Sponaugles' first appeal challenged the
trial court's entry of a foreclosure decree in favor of
appellant, Farmers State Bank ("Farmers"). The
Second District Court of Appeals dismissed that appeal for
lack of a final, appealable order because the foreclosure
decree did not state the amounts owed to two other
lienholders. During the first appeal, the Sponaugles'
property sold at a sheriffs sale.
3} The Sponaugles' second appeal challenged the
trial court's order confirming the sale of the property.
The Second District concluded that the law-of-the-case
doctrine required adherence to its earlier decision that the
foreclosure decree was not a final, appealable order. In the
absence of a final, appealable order, the court of appeals
held that the trial court had no authority to confirm the
4} Farmers now appeals the Second District's
reversal of the trial court's confirmation of sale. We
reverse the judgment of the court of appeals, conclude that
the foreclosure decree against the Sponaugles was a final,
appealable order, and reinstate the trial court's
confirmation of sale.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
5} In October 2013, Farmers initiated a foreclosure
action against the Sponaugles seeking judgment on three
promissory notes secured by three mortgages on the
Sponaugles' property in Darke County, Ohio. Farmers also
named as defendants other lienholders with a potential
interest in the property.
6} By way of an agreed entry in May 2014, the trial
court entered judgment against the Sponaugles in the amount
of $236, 378.89, plus interest. The entry also stated that
Farmers would dismiss the action if the Sponaugles paid $120,
000 on or before August 23, 2014. If they failed to pay, then
Farmers would be entitled to foreclose on the mortgages free
and clear of all further claims of the Sponaugles. The
Sponaugles did not make any payments to Farmers and instead
filed a bankruptcy petition. After dismissal of the
bankruptcy case, the trial court reactivated the foreclosure
case and granted summary judgment in December 2015 in favor
of Farmers against the Sponaugles.
7} On January 12, 2016, the trial court entered a
foreclosure decree against the Sponaugles. The foreclosure
decree granted judgment for Farmers and found the Sponaugles
liable for the total amount of principal on the three loans,
plus interest. The decree also stated that Farmers' three
mortgage liens constituted the first, second, and third best
liens on the property.
8} The court found that all the defendants had been
duly served and entered judgment against four nonanswering
defendants: Chase Bank, GT Daubenspeck D.C., Inc., Midland
Funding, L.L.C., and the Ohio Department of Taxation.
9} The foreclosure decree also stated that the Darke
County Treasurer had a tax lien on the property and that
American Budget Company had a lien interest by virtue of a
certificate of judgment. The decree did not state the amounts
due on those two liens. The decree ordered the sale of the
property and payment of proceeds in accordance with the
following order of priority: the Darke County Treasurer's
tax lien, Farmers' three mortgage liens, and then the
judgment lien of American Budget Company.
sale and appeal of the foreclosure decree
10} The Sponaugles appealed the foreclosure decree
to the Second District. The trial court granted the
Sponaugles' motion to stay the court's foreclosure
judgment, but the court of appeals denied their request to
waive the bond requirement. Because the Sponaugles did not
post the required bond, a sheriffs sale took place on
February 26, 2016.
11} In March 2016, after the sheriffs sale but
before the confirmation of sale, the Second District issued a
show-cause order questioning whether the trial court's
foreclosure entry was a final, appealable order. The court of
appeals then dismissed the Sponaugles' appeal for lack of
a final, appealable order because the foreclosure decree did
not state the amounts due on the liens held by the Darke
County Treasurer and American Budget Company. 2d Dist. Darke
No. 16CA000002 (Apr. 18, 2016) ("Sponaugle I
confirming the sale of the property
12} On April 21, 2016, the trial court granted
Farmers' motion to confirm the sale of the property and
ordered the distribution of proceeds from the sale and the
execution and delivery of the property to Farmers by deed.
Farmers purchased the property. After the payment of court
costs, real-estate taxes to Darke County, and miscellaneous