- March 15, 2005
- All Issuing Offices in West Virginia
- Insuring Tax Sales
We have authorized our agents to insure tax sales in
The case is Plemons v. Gale, 396 F. 3d 569. Linda Plemons bought
Plemons filed an action in state court to set aside the deeds to the
purchaser and to Gale. The action was removed to Federal Court under
diversity grounds. In a split decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that
when notice is not delivered and returned to the sender, the sheriff (prior to
the sale) or the purchaser (seeking issuance of a deed) has an obligation to
search all available public records to determine a valid address to which to
send the notice. Judge Motz stated that this standard would be the minimum
that would satisfy due diligence requirements established in prior cases such as
Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust and Mennonite Board of
Therefore, in order to insure a tax sale, you must review the file to determine whether or not the statutory notices were duly delivered. If they were returned to the sheriff or the clerk, you must then check the public records to determine if there were any other addresses for the property owner to which notice might have been sent. You may only issue our policies of title insurance if: (1) notice was delivered to the property owner, not returned as undeliverable or unclaimed; or, (2) if notice was returned as undeliverable or unclaimed, you may insure if notice was sent to any and all other addresses for that property owner in the public records.
THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.