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Mueller v. Miller

filed: June 10, 1996.

A. J. MUELLER, APPELLANT,
v.
TRAVIS MILLER, AND "JANE DOE" MILLER, HUSBAND AND WIFE, INDIVIDUALLY AND THE MARITAL COMMUNITY COMPOSED THEREOF; LANDSAIL INVESTMENTS, INC., A WASHINGTON CORPORATION; AND OCCUPANTS OF THE PREMISES AT 5114 SOUTH SHERIDAN, TACOMA, WASHINGTON, RESPONDENTS. TRAVIS MILLER, THIRD PARTY PLAINTIFF, V. DAVID SWADBERG, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF BENNIE GRIFFIN, DECEASED, THIRD PARTY DEFENDANT. UNIVERSAL COLLECTIONS, INC., A WASHINGTON CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF, V. BENNIE GRIFFIN AND DOROTHY GRIFFIN, HUSBAND AND WIFE, DEFENDANTS.



Superior Court of Pierce County. Superior Court Docket No. 93-2-10063-4/83-2-02331-4. Date Filed In Superior Court: June 16, 1994/August 12, 1994, respectively. Superior Court Judge Signing: Donald Thompson.

Written By: Houghton, Acj, Concurred In By: Seinfeld, CJ, Morgan, J

Author: Houghton

HOUGHTON, J. -- A. J. Mueller filed an action to quiet title in real property, arguing that a prior sheriff's sale was void because it took place more than 10 years after the entry of the original judgment. The trial court dismissed Mueller's claim on the CR 12(b)(6) motion of Travis Miller, the purchaser at the sheriff's sale. Mueller

appeals on grounds that the sheriff's sale was void. Miller cross-appeals the trial court's denial of his motion for CR 11 sanctions. In a companion case, Mueller appealed the trial court's denial of her motion to intervene in the previous collection action.*fn1 We consolidate the two appeals, reverse the trial court's dismissal of Mueller's claim, affirm the trial court's denial of Miller's claim for CR 11 sanctions, and dismiss Cause No. 18642-0-II as moot.

SUMMARY

The complexity of the procedural history in this case necessitates our use of both a brief summary and a detailed recitation of the facts. Bennie Griffin owned the real property at issue in this dispute prior to his death; this property was encumbered by four judgment liens in the 1980s. Landsail Investments and Travis Miller, respectively, held the first and third judgment liens. Landsail applied for a writ of execution, which was issued 28 days short of 10 years after the first judgment was entered. Landsail bought the property at the sheriff's sale, which was held after the 10-year period had expired, and an order confirming that sale was entered. Miller redeemed the property. Prior to the issuance of the sheriff's deed to Miller, David Swadberg, judgment creditor two, probated Griffin's estate and was named personal representative (PR). Swadberg obtained a probate court order allowing the sale of the property, sold the property to Mueller, entered an order confirming the sale, and conveyed the property to Mueller by special warranty deed. Mueller filed an action to quiet title to the property, arguing that the sheriff's sale was void because it took place more than 10 years after the entry of the original judgment. The trial court dismissed Mueller's claim on Miller's CR 12(b)(6) motion.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This quiet title action arose from events that began in the early 1980s. The following background facts were presented through the pleadings:

February 1992: Bennie Griffin died intestate, leaving heirs but no spouse or issue; his only known asset was the real property at issue in this case. The property was not subject to a mortgage or deed of trust, but was subject to four judgment liens. This is not disputed, but it is also not supported in the record.

July 15, 1982: The first judgment was entered in favor of one of Griffin's creditors.*fn2

June 17, 1992: A writ of execution was issued, 28 days prior to 10 years from the date the original judgment was entered.

July 14, 1992: The original judgment lien expired.

Aug. 14, 1992: A sheriff's sale was held; Landsail, as judgment creditor, gave a non-cash, high bid of $18,296.04. Miller's attorney below asserted that all parties received notice of the sheriff's sale and had time to file objections to the confirmation of the sale; however, the record contains a general public notice of the sale and nothing indicating that the parties individually received notice of the sale.

Sept. 9, 1992: The order confirming the sheriff's sale was entered.

Feb. 17, 1993: Miller, as assignee of a judgment lien, gave notice of his intent to redeem. The Pierce County Sheriff refused to redeem, asserting that Miller could not redeem from a void sale, i.e., a sale held after the 10-year statutory period expired. No response from the sheriff documenting its refusal to redeem is in the record.

May 21, 1993: Miller tendered a check for redemption in the amount of $17,297.33. Receipt of this payment is later noted in the sheriff's deed.

May 28, 1993: Miller brought an application for a writ of mandamus, asking that the sheriff be ordered to accept his redemption notice.

June 8, 1993: Miller's motion was brought before a Court Commissioner, who denied the application because the sale occurred after

the statutory period. Miller's June 30, 1993 motion for reconsideration was also denied. The Commissioner's rulings are not in the record.

July 9, 1993: Miller moved for revision of the Commissioner's order.

July 23, 1993: Miller argued for revision of the order before Judge Cohoe. By letter dated July 27, 1993, Judge Cohoe revised, ruling that the sheriff did not have standing to deny Miller's motion to redeem and that no real party in interest was seeking to void the sale, so he issued a writ of mandamus ordering the sheriff to allow Miller to redeem.

July 30, 1993: Swadberg, judgment creditor two, filed a petition to probate Griffin's estate, and he was appointed PR. Swadberg obtained an order apparently authorizing him to sell the property free of the three remaining judgment liens, subject to Miller's claims arising from the sheriff's sale. Neither the petition nor the order are in the record.

Aug. 2, 1993: The order granting the writ of mandamus was entered, ordering the sheriff to allow Miller to redeem.*fn3 Miller notified Griffin's original judgment ...


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