Ontario Land Co. v. Yordy - 212 U.S. 152 (1909)
U.S. Supreme Court
Ontario Land Co. v. Yordy, 212 U.S. 152 (1909)
Ontario Land Co. v. Yordy
Argued January 7, 1909
Decided February 1, 1909
212 U.S. 152
Although a description may not be technically correct, if it identifies the land, it will sustain a conveyance, or, as in this case, an assessment for taxes, and notice of sale therefor when delinquent, and, if the owner knows that the property so described is his, he is not, by reason of the deficient description, deprived of his property without due process of law.
Where, as in the State of Washington, tax proceedings are in rem, owners are bound to take notice thereof and to pay taxes on their property, even if assessed to unknown or other persons, and if an owner stands by and sees the property sold for delinquent taxes, he is not thereby deprived of his property without due process of law.
44 Wash. 239 affirmed.
On May 16, 1889, plaintiff's grantors, Chester A. Congdon and Clara B. Congdon, his wife, then the owners of the West Half (W. 1/2) of the Southeast Quarter (S.E. 1/4) and the East Half (E. 1/2) of the Southwest Quarter (S.W. 1/4) of Section Twenty-four (24), in Township Thirteen (13) North, Range Eighteen (18) East, Willamette Meridian, excepting ten acres which belonged to Charles M. Holton, platted their land as "Capital Addition to North Yakima." According to the plat, in the central portion was a body of land marked "reserved" and not divided into lots and blocks. If it had been so divided, the ground would have made four blocks, and, to be in harmony with the other numbering, would have been Blocks 352, 353, 372, and 373. Nothing was shown on the plat to indicate the meaning of the term "reserved," nor the use to which the tract was to be applied. For the years 1892, 1893, 1894, and 1895, the proper assessor listed and assessed for taxation with other real estate that which he described as Blocks 352 and 372 in "Capital Addition to North Yakima." All taxes on the property so listed for these years became delinquent. The county foreclosed the same in proceedings conforming to the statutes of Washington, and, under the decree, the property was sold and a tax deed executed to the defendant Jay Yordy, who paid all subsequent taxes levied thereon. After the platting by Congdon and wife, and in 1890, they deeded all the land to the plaintiff, describing it not by lots and blocks, but by the government descriptions, and with no allusion to the Capital Addition to North Yakima. In September, 1904, after the tax deed had been executed, delivered, and recorded, the plaintiff platted that portion of Capital Addition marked "reserved" as "Heerman's Addition to North Yakima," and subdivided said reserved tract into four blocks, numbered from 1 to 4, inclusive, each block being subdivided into 16 lots. The defendant Jay Yordy had already taken possession of the tract purchased by him, claiming it under his tax deed. On March 17, 1905, the plaintiff brought this action against the defendants to recover the property, describing it as lots in Blocks 1 and 2 of Heerman's Addition.
The plaintiff had actual knowledge of the fact that an attempt was being made to levy and collect taxes upon that portion of its property marked "reserved;" it denied the validity of such taxes in interviews with two county treasurers, and stood quietly by during the foreclosure proceedings and tax sale. With full knowledge, it permitted the purchaser to make his purchase without any protest, and only thereafter platted the reserved tract as Heerman's Addition to North Yakima. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff, but that judgment was reversed by the supreme court of the state, which ordered a judgment in favor of the defendants. 44 Wash. 239. Thereupon, the case was brought here on error.