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Tyler v. Department of Finance of Sussex County
Supreme Court of Delaware
January 17, 2019
RICHARD TYLER and DIONNE TYLER, Defendants Below, Appellants,
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE OF SUSSEX COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Delaware, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.
Submitted: January 11, 2019
Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware C.A. No.
STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN, Justices.
STRINE, JR. CHIEF JUSTICE.
consideration of the parties' briefs and the record in
this case, it appears to the Court that:
(1) The appellants, Richard and Dionne Tyler, filed this
appeal from an order of the Superior Court denying the
Tylers' motion to set aside a monition sale of real
property situated at 20429 Harbeson Road in Harbeson,
Delaware. After careful consideration of the parties'
submissions and the record on appeal, the Court concludes
that the Superior Court did not abuse its discretion, and we
affirm the Superior Court's judgment.
(2) The record reflects that the Tylers acquired the property
in February 2004. On September 29, 2016, the Department of
Finance of Sussex County (the "County") filed a
praecipe for monition to enforce its rights to collect unpaid
taxes in the amount of $806.39 for the years 2008 through
2011. The Sussex County Sheriff posted the monition on the
property on October 7, 2016. A Writ of Venditioni Exponas
later was issued, and a sale of the property was scheduled
for January 17, 2017.
(3) On January 4, 2017, the County sent notices of the
impending sale by certified mail directed to the Tylers at
two addresses in Philadelphia and at the physical address of
the property. On January 5, 2017, notice of the scheduled
sale was also posted on the property. The property was sold
to a third-party buyer for $3, 300 on January 17, 2017; the
Superior Court confirmed the sale on May 2, 2017.
(4) On May 21, 2018, the Tylers filed a motion to set aside
the sale, claiming that they did not receive notice of the
sale because the notices had not been sent to their correct
address. The Superior Court denied the motion, and the Tylers
(5) The Superior Court has broad discretion to confirm or set
aside a sheriff's sale. We therefore review the Superior
Court's decision for abuse of discretion.
(6) Superior Court Civil Rule 69(g) requires that notice be
provided to property owners at least seven days before a
property may be sold at a sheriff's sale. The notice must
be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the
owners' "last known available or reasonably
(7) In this case, the Tylers contend that the required notice
was not given because notices were mailed to 362 E Church Ln
Rear, Philadelphia, PA 19144, and to 346 E Church St,
Philadelphia, PA 19144, but their correct address is 346 E.
Church Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144. As evidence of their
address, they point to the deed by which they acquired the
property in 2004, which identifies their address as 346 E.
Church Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144.
(8) The County argues that tax bills for the property had
been mailed to the Tylers at 346 East Church Street,
Philadelphia, PA for several years, and that the taxes had
been paid for some of those years, demonstrating that the
Tylers had received the bills that were mailed to that
address. The County further asserts that in 2015 or 2016, the
Tylers changed their billing address from "346 E Church
St, Philadelphia, PA 19144" to "362 E Church Ln
Rear, Philadelphia, PA 19144." The Tylers dispute that
they caused that address change, but they do not submit any
evidence that they did not cause the change, nor do they
offer any explanation of why the County would have changed
the billing address without the Tylers' instruction to do
so. Moreover, the County received a signed return receipt for
the notice that was addressed to the Tylers at 362 E. Church
Lane Rear,  indicating that the notice was delivered
and signed for on January 5, 2017. Although the Tylers
assert, without evidence, that the signature is not theirs,
they offer no explanation of why someone else would sign for
certified mail addressed to the Tylers at the Philadelphia
address that the County had on file for them.
(9) Under Superior Court Civil Rule 60(b)(6), a final order
may be set aside for "any other reason justifying relief
from the operation of the judgment." Relief under Rule
60(b)(6) is an "extraordinary remedy" that requires
a showing of "extraordinary
circumstances." The Superior Court held that the notice of
the sale was "reasonably calculated, under all
circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency
of the action." In the circumstances of this case, we
conclude that the Superior Court did not abuse its discretion
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