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08/29/89 In Re Application of the County Collector For Judgment and

August 29, 1989

IN RE APPLICATION OF THE COUNTY COLLECTOR FOR JUDGMENT AND


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

ORDER SALE AGAINST LANDS AND LOTS RETURNED DELINQUENT

FOR NONPAYMENT OF GENERAL TAXES FOR THE YEAR

Corporation, Petitioner-Appellee, v.

Eleanor Otsus, by her Guardian, Patrick T. Murphy, Public

Guardian of Cook County, Respondent-Appellant)

545 N.E.2d 145, 188 Ill. App. 3d 1068, 136 Ill. Dec. 621 1989.IL.1322

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Francis Barth, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE SCARIANO delivered the opinion of the court. BILANDIC, P.J., and DiVITO, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SCARIANO

Patrick Murphy, the Cook County Public Guardian (hereinafter the Guardian), appeals from the denial of his motion for declaratory judgment, filed on behalf of Eleanor Otsus in response to National Indemnity Corporation's petition for an order directing the county clerk to issue a tax deed conveying Otsus' property, arguing that the notice provisions of the Illinois Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 120, par. 482 et seq.) are unconstitutional and violate due process.

Mrs. Otsus failed to pay real estate taxes on the property she owned at 2938 W. 102nd Place in Evergreen Park, Illinois, for the year 1982 and prior years. Since her husband's death in 1970, Mrs. Otsus has lived in reclusion, and has become increasingly mentally imbalanced and deranged. She is now 87 years old.

On October 3, 1984, National Indemnity Corporation (National) purchased Mrs. Otsus' property at a tax sale for approximately $8,600, the amount of the real estate taxes owed on the property for the years in question. Pursuant to the notice provisions of the Illinois Revenue Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 120, pars. 722a, 744, 747), National served Mrs. Otsus personally with notice on March 16, 1987, as well as by publication. The return of service indicates that the sheriff believed Mrs. Otsus did not speak English, when in fact she does. National also provided notice of the proceedings to the Village of Evergreen Park and the PLOWS Council on Aging. (PLOWS is not further identified in the record.) Mrs. Otsus' right to redeem the property expired on July 6, 1987, and she did not redeem before that date. She became a ward of the Cook County Public Guardian on July 21, 1987. The guardian claims that the property alone, without the house, which was in a deteriorated condition, was worth at least $100,000.

On October 29, 1987, the Guardian filed a motion for declaratory judgment, in which he quoted from a report by the PLOWS Council on Aging, prepared in July 1987. (A copy of this report is not included in the record.) According to the report, as quoted in the Guardian's motion, PLOWS has known Mrs. Otsus since August 1983, "when she was referred by a concerned neighbor. She was living without heat, electricity, water or phone service, and according to neighbors had been deteriorating for some period of time." Mrs. Otsus would not open her door to speak with people from PLOWS, and the outside of her home was in "total disrepair." PLOWS reported that "Mrs. Otsus was paranoid, uncooperative and refused offers of help." The agency attempted to assist Mrs. Otsus, but, because of her diminished capacity and lack of cooperation, her utility bills continued to go unpaid and, in January 1986, she almost froze to death. A neighbor and local church group gained access to Mrs. Otsus' home and found it "a disaster." Her mail was either unopened or burned in her fireplace. According to the report, "It is clear that Mrs. Otsus has had severely impaired mental functioning for a considerable period of time -- perhaps ten years or longer. She is not able to understand the ...


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