Town of Freeport v. Ring

727 A.2d 901 (1999)

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Town of Freeport v. Ring

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
727 A.2d 901 (1999)

Facts

Thornton D. Ring (defendant) owned a property located at 2 Main Street (the Main Street property). The Town of Freeport (the town) (plaintiff) assessed real-estate taxes against the Main Street property. The town had not received payment for the real-estate taxes, so the town sent Ring a lien claim and a letter demanding payment within 30 days. The real-estate taxes remained unpaid after 30 days, so the town recorded a tax-lien certificate against the Main Street property. The town also sent Ring a notice indicating that the tax lien would be deemed foreclosed, and Ring’s right of redemption would expire, on March 7, 1997. In January of 1997, Ring delivered to the town a check for the real-estate taxes. The check was issued by Advest, Inc. (Advest) and made payable to the order of Ring. On the back of the check, Ring wrote “Payable To Town of Freeport” and indicated that the check was for property taxes for the Main Street property. However, Ring did not sign the check. Along with the check, Ring sent a signed letter on a separate, unattached piece of paper, which stated that he paid the real-estate taxes and requested the appropriate action to redeem the Main Street property. The town responded with a letter rejecting the check based on a prior tax lien against the Main Street property. Ring took no further action. The town sought a declaratory judgment confirming its title to the Main Street property. Though the lower court found that the prior tax lien was invalid, the lower court ruled in the town’s favor based on the foreclosure of the tax lien in question. The lower court reasoned that the check contained a special indorsement identifying Ring, and that the town had no obligation to accept Ring’s check because he did not sign the check. Ring appealed and argued that he redeemed the Main Street property by sending the check and the accompanying letter.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Clifford, J.)

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