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Trigg v. City of Yuma

Supreme Court of Arizona

October 26, 1942

C. H. TRIGG and LENA TRIGG, Husband and Wife, Appellants,
v.
THE CITY OF YUMA, a Municipal Corporation, and FAMA E. TOWNSEND, Appellees

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Yuma. Wm. G. Hall, Judge. Judgment reversed and remanded.

Mr. R. C. Bennett, for Appellants.

Mr. William H. Westover, for Appellees.

Mr. John A. McGuire, Amicus Curiae.

OPINION

Page 60

[59 Ariz. 481] ROSS, J.

This action was brought by C. H. Trigg and Lena Trigg, husband and wife, to quiet their title to "a strip of land forty (40) feet in width off the rear of Lots One (1) and Two (2) of Block Ninety-five (95) of the City of Yuma."

The defendants, the City of Yuma and Fama E. Townsend, filed a joint answer to such complaint in which it is alleged that the city taxes on said property for the years 1932-1937, respectively, were:

1932

$ 8.50

1933

8.50

1934

8.50

1935

6.45

1936

12.36

1937

5.10,

and that plaintiffs had paid no part thereof; that said [59 Ariz. 482] taxes were levied and assessed against saidproperty under and by virtue of the provisions of Ordinances No. 130 and No. 175 of the City of Yuma, relating to the collection of taxes, and in all respects in accordance with the terms and conditions of such ordinances; that thereafter and on, to wit, May 29, 1939, the City Tax and License Collector of Yuma, having theretofore duly published notice thereof, offered said delinquent property for sale to the highest bidder; that no one appeared to bid thereon, whereupon the same was sold to the City of Yuma for the sum of $70.42, being the amount of taxes plus interest, penalties and costs; that a certificate of sale of said property was issued to said city, as provided in said ordinances; that after the expiration of one year from the date of sale the said City Tax and License Collector executed and delivered to the city his tax deed conveying title to the described premises; that thereafter, on January 11, 1941, the city advertised the property for sale in accordance with law and within the time specified in the notice of sale and on, to wit, February 18, 1941, sold said property to defendant Fama E. Townsend for the sum of $275 cash, and thereafter the Mayor and City Recorder, being thereunto duly authorized, executed to her a deed of said property.

The case was tried before the court without a jury and resulted in a judgment in favor of defendants. From such judgment and the order denying their motion for a new trial, plaintiffs have appealed.

The evidence introduced by plaintiffs to support their action to quiet title to said property in them consisted of a deed from the city to C. H. Trigg, dated November 12, 1931, and delivered "between the early part of 1935 and June 1936." The reason for the long delay in delivering the deed to Trigg was that the property was sold to him for labor and material and the city withheld delivery until the value of such labor and [59 Ariz. 483] material was equal to the consideration for the deed, which was stipulated to be $2,500.

While there is some doubt as to the legality of the transaction between Trigg and the city through which Trigg claims title to the described property, we think the city may not in this proceeding raise the question, for, when it assessed the property as belonging to Trigg, it admitted his title. That seems to have been the view of the trial court. The question, then, resolves itself to this: Were the taxes for which the property was sold a legal charge against the property, and was the procedure followed in the levy, assessment and collection of such taxes regular and in accordance with the law? The judgment of the trial court answered this question in the affirmative, and the question is was the court right in so doing.

Property taxes in the City of Yuma are levied, assessed and collected by the city under its own system ...


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