A Minnesota woman won her property rights case against Hennepin County at the Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found Thursday that the county unjustly kept more money when it auctioned 94-year-old Geraldine Tyler’s Minneapolis one-bedroom condo over unpaid taxes.
Tyler left her condo in 2010 and ceased paying taxes. Martin’s tax bill reached $15,000 after penalties, interest, and other fees. The county foreclosed and sold the unit for $40,000 to recover that obligation.
Martin’s attorneys contended that the county should have given her the $25,000 left over from the sale since her debt was only $15,000.
In January, the Supreme Court informed Martin and her attorneys that it would consider her case against the county.
Hennepin County claimed that Martin relinquished her rights to the condo and the selling proceeds by abandoning it. The judges disagreed, finding abandonment “means the ‘surrender or relinquishment or disclaimer of all rights in the property.
Tyler moved for “health and safety,” according to Pacific Legal. Tyler has not explained why she stopped paying property taxes after moving.
The court also observed that many other Minnesota laws allow property owners to a surplus over a debt. Such as if a bank forecloses and sells a home. The justices decided the county and state shouldn’t keep a surplus. When the law requires everyone else to return it to the property owner.
The court ruled that Minnesota cannot erase a property interest it recognizes elsewhere to avoid paying just compensation when the state takes it.
“The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.
Last month, Hamline University political science professor David Schultz told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the court’s verdict could affect more than Minnesota.
“This could affect many states and homeowners nationwide.” “Including for those who are struggling with paying taxes and maintaining their homes,” Schultz remarked.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to Hennepin County and Tyler’s attorneys for comment on the ruling and will update this story.