Standing: Jurisdiction: Parties. Standing is
a jurisdictional component of a party's case because only
a party who has standing may invoke the jurisdiction of a
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. The question
of jurisdiction is a question of law, upon which an appellate
court reaches a conclusion independent of the trial court.
Summary Judgment: Appeal and Error. An
appellate court affirms a lower court's grant of summary
judgment if the pleadings and admitted evidence show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material facts or as to
the ultimate inferences that may be drawn from the facts and
that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
In reviewing a summary judgment, an appellate court views the
evidence in the light most favorable to the party against
whom the judgment was granted, and gives that party the
benefit of all reasonable inferences deducible from the
Equity: Quiet Title. A quiet title action
sounds in equity.
Equity: Appeal and Error. On appeal from an
equity action, an appellate court tries factual questions de
novo on the record and, as to questions of both fact and law,
is obligated to reach a conclusion independent of the
conclusion reached by the trial court, provided that where
credible evidence is in conflict on a material issue of fact,
the appellate court considers and may give weight to the fact
that the trial judge heard and observed the witnesses and
accepted one version of the facts rather than another.
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory
interpretation presents a question of law, for which an
appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent
conclusion irrespective of the decision made by the court
Neb. 721] 8. Title: Deeds: Tax
Sale. Actions challenging title obtained via a tax
deed are governed by statute.
Title: Deeds: Tax Sale: Quiet Title. Because
a void tax deed grants color of title in a potential future
action, it will always be incumbent upon the original
landowner to bring an action to quiet title in his or her
Title: Deeds: Tax Sale: Words and Phrases.
The word "paid" in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1844
(Reissue 2009) includes tendering payment.
Title: Deeds: Tax Sale: Jurisdiction:
Notice. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1843 (Reissue
2009) has a jurisdictional component that renders a tax deed
void when the tax deed holder failed to comply with the
statutory notice requirements prior to acquiring the deed.
Title: Deeds: Tax Sale: Notice. A
misstatement in the statutory notice of the expiration of the
time of redemption renders the tax deed invalid.
Quiet Title. The party seeking to quiet
title must recover, if at all, on the strength of his own
title and not on the weakness of his adversary's title.
Equity. The relief ordinarily granted in
equity is such as the nature of the case, the law, and the
Equity: Quiet Title. In quiet title actions,
one who seeks equity must do equity.
Appeal and Error. To be considered by an
appellate court, an alleged error must be both specifically
assigned and specifically argued in the brief of the party
asserting the error.
from the District Court for Franklin County: Terri S. Harder,
K. Walocha for appellant.
Nicholas R. Norton, of Jacobsen, Orr, Lindstrom &
Holbrook, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee Dennis G. Johnson.
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik,
and Freudenberg, JJ.
Holdings, LLC, brought a quiet title action after obtaining a
tax deed. Adair Holdings' predecessor in interest
attempted to provide Dennis G. Johnson, the owner of record,
[304 Neb. 722] with notice of the application for a tax deed
via certified mail and then by publication. However, the
notice contained incorrect information about the timeframe in
which Johnson could redeem the property. On a motion for
summary judgment, the trial court determined that the deed
was void for incorrect notice and granted Johnson's
counterclaim for quiet title. The court did not order Johnson
to reimburse Adair Holdings for the delinquent taxes paid by
Adair Holdings' predecessor in interest. Adair Holdings
Asset Management, L.L.C. (Adair Management), and BMO Harris
Bank purchased a tax sale certificate from Franklin County.
This tax sale occurred in March 2014 for taxes that were
unpaid from 2012. Adair Management then paid the delinquent
taxes for 2013, 2014, and 2015 as well.
purchasing the tax certificate, Adair Management waited the
3-year statutory period set forth by Neb. Rev. Stat. §
77-1837 (Reissue 2009) and then sent notice in March 2017 by
certified mail to Johnson's address of record. This
notice indicated that Adair Management would be applying for
a tax deed within 90 days if the property was not redeemed.
The certified mail was marked as "Return to Sender,
Unclaimed, Unable to Forward." After the attempt to
provide notice by mail failed, notice was published in the
Franklin County Chronicle newspaper on April 5, 12, and 19,
content of the notice included the statutory requirements of
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1831 (Reissue 2009). The notice
also contained a phrase from a more recent version of §
77-1831, which phrase read:
If the property is owner occupied, the right of redemption
shall expire at the close of business on the 45th day after
the application for tax deed has been made. An additional
redemption fee equal to twenty percent of all other amounts
due must be paid if redemption is made after application for
treasurer's deed has been made.
Neb. 723]This passage was a part of § 77-1831 (Cum.
Supp. 2012); however, the statutory scheme contains a savings
clause specifying that the 2009 law governs all tax sale
certificates sold and issued between January 1, 2010, and
December 31, 2014. It does not appear from the record that
Adair Management sent a copy of the published notice to
Johnson's address of record.
Management and BMO Harris Bank applied for the tax deed on
July 19, 2017. The application included an affidavit by
counsel stating that Adair Management had complied with the
statutory requirements and provided notice via unclaimed
certified mail and by publication. The treasurer issued a tax
deed on July 25, 2017, and recorded it on July 31. In August,
Adair Management and BMO Harris Bank provided a quitclaim
deed to Adair Holdings for land described as follows:
"The Southeast Quarter (SE !4) of Section Five (5),
Township Four (4) North, Range Fourteen (14), West of the
6th P.M. in Franklin County, Nebraska.''
October 2017, Adair Holdings commenced an action in equity to
quiet title to the real estate in its name. Johnson filed an
answer and a counterclaim requesting the court to quiet title
in his name. Johnson argued that (1) the notice was
statutorily defective for including a misstatement of law and
(2) the notice was constitutionally defective according to
Neb. Const, art. VIII, § 3, which requires that
"occupants shall in all cases be served with personal
notice before the time of redemption expires." In April
2018, Johnson served Adair Holdings with a set of requests
for admissions and received no response.
moved for summary judgment, and a hearing was held in
September 2018. In an affidavit entered at the summary
judgment hearing, Johnson averred that he first discovered
the existence of the tax deed in early August 2017. Johnson
claims that he then reviewed the published notice and relied
on the notice in believing he had 45 days to redeem the
property. The 45th day from the issuance of the tax deed was
Saturday, [304 Neb. 724] September 2, 2017. Johnson attempted
to tender payment to the ...