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City of Wilmington v. Kostyshyn

Superior Court of Delaware

September 18, 2018

THE CITY OF WILMINGTON, a municipal corporation of the State of Delaware, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER T. KOSTYSHYN, PATRICIA R. KOSTYSHYN, JOHN J. KOSTYSHYN, MIROSLAW E. KOSTYSHYN and TAX PARCEL NO. 26-027.30-277, Defendants.

          ORDER PERMITTING SHERIFF'S SALE TO PROCEED

          COMMISSIONER LYNNE M. PARKER JUDGE

         On March 13, 2018, the City of Wilmington ("the City") initiated the subject action through a monition for unpaid debts owed to the City. These debts included unpaid real property taxes, utility charges and vacant registration fees from 2015-2018.

         The property at issue, 505 N. Broom Street, ("this Property") is owned by four siblings: Defendants Peter T. Kostyshyn, Patricia Kostyshyn, Miroslaw Kostyshyn and John Kostyshyn.

         Two of the four siblings, Peter and Patricia Kostyshyn, filed motions and other documents challenging the assessed taxes, charges and fees and seeking to stay the Sheriffs Sale of this Property. A hearing was held on June 7, 2018 to address those court submissions. At the hearing, a third sibling, Defendant Miroslaw Kostyshyn, appeared and orally challenged the assessed taxes, charges and fees on the grounds that he was not properly notified of the existence of these debts.

         The Sheriffs Sale was scheduled to take place on June 12, 2018. Given Miroslaw's contention that he was not properly notified of the existence of these debts prior to the initiation of the monition action, the Sheriffs Sale was stayed so that the notice issue could be fully briefed and considered. Following full briefing on this issue, a second hearing was held on July 18, 2018.

         While the notice issue raised by Miroslaw was being briefed, Defendants Peter and Patricia Kostyshyn continued to file a number of additional motions and documents with the court raising a number of issues and seeking a variety of forms of relief including, but not limited to, staying the Sheriffs Sale.

         This is the Court's decision that the Defendants have failed to identify any entitlement to relief from the City's Writ of Monition for unpaid taxes and fees, their objections fail, and the stay of the Sheriffs Sale is lifted. The City may proceed with the Sheriffs Sale.

         FACTS

         The four defendants in this action are siblings. They inherited this Property when their mother passed in 200 1. In addition to this Property, they also inherited various other properties, including 1127 Brandy wine Boulevard, Bellefonte, Delaware.

         On April 6, 2010, one of the Kostyshyns called the City and informed the City that the proper billing address for this Property was 1127 Brandywine Boulevard, Bellefonte, Delaware. From that moment on, the City sent all notices of outstanding bills and all other correspondence related to this Property to the 1127 Brandywine Boulevard address, as instructed.

         On May 21, 2013, the City filed an action against these four defendants, through two Writs of Monition, involving three of the properties that they inherited.[1] This Property was one of the three properties in the prior litigation.

         In that prior action, for this Property, the Kostyshyns owed real property taxes, utility charges and vacant property fees for the years 2009-2013[2] All the bills for these outstanding debts were sent to 1127 Brandywine Boulevard, as instructed. The City never sent any of these bills or correspondence pertaining to these bills to Miroslaw's residence. Miroslaw never contacted the City, at any time, to request that the City also send copies of the bills to his residence or to any place other than the 1127 Brandywine Boulevard address.

         In the prior action, Miroslaw actively participated in that monition action and vehemently contested the City's entitlement to proceed with that Sheriffs Sale. Although he raised a number of issues objecting to that Sheriffs Sale, he never once contended that the sending of notices only to the 1127 Brandywine Boulevard address was deficient.[3]

         After considerable motion practice and appeals, all of the Kostyshyns' objections to the prior monition action were denied, and the City was permitted to proceed with the Sheriffs Sale.[4] The Sheriffs Sale was held on May 12, 2015.[5]

         This Property now before the Court was sold at the May 12, 2015 Sheriffs Sale for $32, 000. Miroslaw confirmed that this Property was sold at the Sheriffs sale and had no further involvement whatsoever with this Property since then. He made no effort to redeem this Property and made no effort to determine whether any of his siblings had redeemed this Property.

         In fact, his siblings redeemed this Property on or about June 15, 2015.[6] The fact that this Property had been redeemed is a matter of public record. If Miroslaw was at all interested in whether this Property had been redeemed, all he had to do was ask the City. He never inquired with his siblings, with the Sheriffs Office, or with the City as to whether this Property had been redeemed.

         Miroslaw never contributed any money toward the costs attendant with ownership of this Property from at least 2010 to the present. He never paid anything towards the real property taxes, utility charges, vacant registration fees, or towards any maintenance or upkeep of this Property.

         After Miroslaw's siblings redeemed this Property, they again fell behind on payments owed to the City. Over the last few years, Miroslaw's siblings have submitted partial payments for which the City has accounted, but have accrued significant additional debts on the Property. Presently, for this Property, the Kostyshyns owe outstanding property taxes from 2015-2017, utility bills from 2015-2018, and vacant property registration fees from 2015-2018.

         On March 13, 2018, the City initiated the subject action through a monition for unpaid debts owed to the City. As noted above, these debts include unpaid property taxes, utility charges and vacant registration fees. Notice of the subject monition was also posted on this Property on March 27, 2018.[7]

         The Sheriffs Sale was scheduled to be held on June 12, 2018. At the hearing held on June 7, 2018, Miroslaw contended that the Sheriffs Sale should be stayed and that he should be permitted to contest the assessment of the vacant property fees at this late date because he never received notice of these assessments at his residence.

         The Sheriffs Sale was stayed so that a determination could be made as to whether there was any entitlement to relief from the City's Writ of Monition. A second hearing was held on July 18, 2018. The matter is now ripe for consideration.

         DISCUSSION

         The Court will first discuss the sufficiency of the notification provided by the City to the Kostyshyns. The Court will then address the motions and other submissions filed by Peter and Patricia Kostyshyn.

         1) The Notice Provided by the ...


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