Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Texas Workforce Commission And The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts v. Ahmed

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

March 28, 2019

Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Appellants
v.
Taufiq Ahmed; Zikreel Ahmed; Bank of America, N.A.; Mayfair Station, LLC; American Business Lending, Inc.; Inland American Arlington Riverview Limited Partnership; City of Fort Worth; Fort Worth Independent School District; Tarrant County; Tarrant County College District; Tarrant County Hospital District; Tarrant Regional Water District; and Unknown Members, Successors, and Assigns of Murray Investment Company, Appellees

          On Appeal from the 236th District Court Tarrant County, Texas Trial Court No. 236-B42882-11

          Before Gabriel, Kerr, and Pittman, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Elizabeth Kerr, Justice.

         Two lienholders-the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts-appeal from the trial court's final judgment disbursing all the excess proceeds of a tax-lien-foreclosure sale to a third lienholder, IA America Arlington Riverview Limited (IA America). See Tex. Tax Code Ann. §§ 34.03-.04. The trial court rendered its judgment after a hearing at which TWC and the Comptroller were not present. TWC and the Comptroller complain in two issues that the trial court erred by denying their post-default-judgment motion for new trial because IA America did not properly serve them with its petition to disburse excess proceeds and because they established their right to a new trial under Craddock v. Sunshine Bus Lines, 133 S.W.2d 124, 126 (Tex. 1939). The Comptroller additionally complains in a separate issue that because all service on its behalf in this suit has been to the Attorney General, a separate agency, it has never been properly served with citation or any document in the suit. Because we hold that the trial court rendered its excess-proceeds judgment after insufficient statutory notice, we reverse the judgment and remand the case to the trial court for a new trial.

         Background

         Various local taxing authorities (the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Fort Worth Independent School District, Tarrant Regional Water District, Tarrant County Hospital District, and Tarrant County College District) filed a petition to recover delinquent property taxes from Taufiq and Zikreel Ahmed by foreclosure. The petition also named several lienholders as defendants, including IA America and two State entities:

•the "State of Texas, (lienholder, in rem only), . . . having acquired its interest in the subject property through [TWC], an agency thereof, . . . upon whom service may be obtained by serving J. Ferris Duhon, Legal Counsel, 101 E. 15th Street, Austin, Texas 78778" and
•the "State of Texas, (lienholder, in rem only), . . . having acquired its interest in the subject property through the Comptroller . . ., an agency thereof, . . . upon whom service may be obtained by serving Greg Abbott, Attorney General for the State of Texas or his designee for service of process, 300 West 15th Street, Austin, Texas 78701."

         The Tarrant County District Clerk served citation on TWC, the Attorney General of Texas, and IA America by certified mail; the return-receipt cards confirming service are included in the clerk's record. But neither TWC, nor the Attorney General, nor IA America filed an answer, and none of those named and served defendants appeared at the tax-lien-foreclosure hearing. The trial court rendered judgment allowing the taxing entities to hold a foreclosure sale to recover the delinquent taxes. A note on the judgment indicates that it was mailed to the defaulting defendants.

         After the property was sold at foreclosure and the taxing authorities were made whole, the Constable deposited $39, 965.37 in excess proceeds with the District Clerk. Thereafter, in January 2016, the District Clerk notified most of the defendants, including TWC, that an excess existed. But nothing in the record shows that the District Clerk notified either the Comptroller or the Attorney General of the excess proceeds' deposit. See Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 34.03(a)(3) (requiring the clerk to notify the Attorney General of any excess-proceeds deposit if a state agency represented by the attorney general is named as an in rem defendant in the underlying tax-lien-foreclosure suit).

         IA America filed a Petition for Claim of Excess Proceeds in the same trial-court cause number on February 19, 2016, but the record does not show that it served the petition on any party to the underlying tax-lien-foreclosure proceeding. On October 6, 2017, IA America's attorney filed a notice of trial setting for December 13, 2017; the certificate of service indicates that it was "served upon the Plaintiff and Defendant via electronic notification," but it does not list all the multiple plaintiffs and defendants.

         On October 26, 2017, the attorney ad litem for one of the defendants[1] filed a motion to distribute the excess funds to IA America. In that motion's certificate of service, the ad litem twice listed the "State of Texas (Lienholder, In Rem Only)," once through Duhon at TWC's address and once through the Attorney General at the Attorney General's address. The same day, the ad litem filed a notice of hearing notifying "all parties" that the trial court had set the "Motion for Excess Proceeds" for a hearing on November 13, 2017. He listed the same two State contacts in the certificate of service attached to that notice.

         No representative appeared for TWC or the Comptroller at the hearing. The trial court signed an order authorizing the District Clerk to distribute $900 to the ad litem, a check for court costs to the District Clerk, and the remaining excess proceeds to IA America's attorney's trust account.

         Fourteen days later, TWC and the Comptroller filed an answer to IA America's petition, a motion for rehearing, and alternatively a motion for new trial. The State entities argued that the disbursement order was not final because it did not dispose of all parties but that if it did, then they were entitled to a new trial because IA America did not serve them with its petition. The Comptroller added that because the Comptroller is a separate agency from the Attorney General's office, it had never been properly served even with the initial tax-foreclosure suit. Alternatively, both entities argued that they met the Craddock elements for obtaining a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.