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Bingman v. City of Dillingham

Supreme Court of Alaska

August 12, 2016

JAMES HENRY BINGMAN, SR., Appellant,
v.
CITY OF DILLINGHAM, Appellee.

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Dillingham, Superior Court No. 3DI-13-00107 CI Pat L. Douglass, Judge.

         Appearances:

          James Henry Bingman, Sr., pro se, Dillingham, Appellant.

          Charles A. Cacciola, Boyd, Chandler & Falconer, LLP, Anchorage, for Appellee.

          Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices. [Fabe, Justice, not participating.]

          OPINION

          MAASSEN, Justice.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A delinquent taxpayer sought to redeem his foreclosed property by offering the city a promissory note for the amount due, without interest, that would mature 20 years later. The taxpayer asserted that his offer would be deemed accepted unless the city satisfied certain requirements to "terminate its power of acceptance." The city explicitly rejected the offer by letter and, at the close of the statutory redemption period, filed for a tax deed in superior court. The taxpayer intervened, arguing that he had redeemed the property, but the superior court ruled there was no contract between him and the city. The taxpayer appeals; finding no error, we affirm.

         II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

         A. Facts

         James Henry Bingman, Sr., the owner of 14 parcels of real property in the City of Dillingham, did not pay property taxes on the parcels from 2006 to 2011. He eventually paid the 2006-2007 taxes, but the City petitioned for foreclosure of his property because of the taxes still outstanding.

         The superior court entered a judgment and decree of foreclosure in June 2014, conveying Bingman's property to the City subject to a statutory one-year right of redemption.[1] Four days later the City received from Bingman a "Security Agreement" and a "Promissory Note." In the security agreement, Bingman accepted liability for the 2008-2011 taxes and penalties. The promissory note, which would mature in 20 years, stated that Bingman "promise[s] to pay to the order of the City of Dillingham . . . $88, 250.49, " the present value of the delinquency (but without future interest). The agreement provided that once the note was delivered to and accepted by the City, its tax judgment would be deemed satisfied and, in exchange, the City would be entitled to enforce the note against Bingman. In essence, Bingman offered to satisfy the tax judgment against him with his own promise that he would pay the taxes in 20 years.

         The security agreement required the City, in order to effectively reject Bingman's offer, to (1) return the agreement and all attachments; (2) deliver a corrected statement of account; (3) deliver notification of refusal of tender and provide legal citations explaining why the tender was defective; and (4) deliver a signed notification of rejection with legal citations and an affidavit explaining why the agreement was unreasonable, in a form admissible in court. The City was given 14 days to reject the agreement; silence or an inadequate rejection would constitute acceptance. And any correspondence mailed to an address other than Bingman's California "Service Address" would not be considered "received" by Bingman.

         On June 16, 2014, the City mailed a letter in which it rejected all of Bingman's "terms, offers, proposals, and requests"; the letter was sent to Bingman's Dillingham address instead of the California address he had designated for service. The City did not return the promissory note or any other of Bingman's documents. Bingman asserts that by June 28 - after his 14-day deadline - he had not received the City's letter. Over the year that followed he did not make any other attempts to redeem the property.

         B. ...


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