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Lorain County Treasurer v. Barricklow

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

December 16, 2019

LORAIN COUNTY TREASURER Appellant
v.
GREGORY T. BARRICKLOW, et al. Appellees

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 18TX007015

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and CHRIS A. PYANOWSKI, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellant.

          R.J. BUDWAY, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.

          MELANIE CORNELIUS, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          HENSAL, JUDGE.

         {¶1} The Lorain County Treasurer appeals from the judgment of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} The Lorain County Treasurer (the "Treasurer") filed a complaint against Gregory and Tina Barricklow, owners of certain real property in Lorain County. The complaint sought the foreclosure of eight parcels of property based upon delinquent real estate taxes. Seven of the parcels are adjacent to each other and contain a building that spans all seven parcels. The Treasurer later voluntarily dismissed its complaint relative to the non-adjacent parcel, indicating that the delinquent real estate taxes associated with that parcel had been paid in full.

         {¶3} After the commencement of the action, the Barricklows paid the delinquent taxes associated with six of the seven adjacent parcels. They did not pay the delinquent taxes related to the parcel upon which the valuation of the building - despite spanning all seven parcels - was attributed to for tax purposes.

         {¶4} The Treasurer moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was entitled to a foreclosure on all seven parcels. The Treasurer acknowledged that the Barricklows had paid the delinquent taxes on six of the seven adjacent parcels, but argued that all seven parcels are considered one economic unit in light of the fact that the building spans all seven parcels. It argued that the auditor simply assigned the value of the building to one parcel because it would be impossible to appraise the value of each piece of the building that sits on each individual parcel. In short, the Treasurer argued that "if a group of parcels are collectively assigned valuation by the Auditor as a single economic unit[, then] they can be foreclosed upon collectively by the Treasurer when their taxes based on that collective valuation become delinquent." The Treasurer also argued that, while the taxes for six of the seven adjacent parcels were technically paid, they remained delinquent so long as the taxes relative to the parcel that the building valuation was associated with were unpaid. The Treasurer supported its motion, in part, with an affidavit from the Chief Deputy Auditor of Real Estate for the Lorain County Auditor's Office. He averred that the market value of the building that spans the seven adjacent parcels was assigned to one parcel, and that:

[i]t is standard procedure for the Lorain County Auditor to apply the entire market building value to one parcel of an economic unit because it is impossible to determine separate parcel specific values for one large building that is built across multiple parcels.

         {¶5} In response, the Barricklows challenged the affidavit of the Chief Deputy Auditor, arguing that there was no indication that he had the expertise to opine on the matter. They also argued that the Treasurer was not entitled to summary judgment as to all of the parcels because they had paid the delinquent taxes on all but one parcel.

         {¶6} The trial court's judgment entry indicates that it did not rule on the Treasurer's motion for summary judgment. Rather, it sua sponte dismissed the Treasurer's complaint without prejudice, concluding that - based upon the facts alleged - the Treasurer could not prevail upon its complaint. ...


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