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In re Application of County Treasurer and Ex Officio County Collector

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

January 14, 2020

In re APPLICATION OF THE COUNTY TREASURER AND ex officio COUNTY COLLECTOR, for Order of Judgment and Sale of Lands and Lots Upon Which All or Part of the General Taxes for Three or More Years are Delinquent, Including General and Special Taxes, Costs and Interest, Pursuant to Illinois Property Tax Code Eeservices, Inc., Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
The Cook County Collector, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 15 COVT 1514 The Honorable Maureen O. Hannan, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE COGHLAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Lavin and Justice Pucinski concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          COGHLANJUSTICE

         ¶ 1 At the Cook County 2015 annual tax sale, GAN C LLC purchased nearly $1.4 million in delinquent taxes on a shopping center located in Calumet City, Illinois; the purchase certificate was ultimately assigned to petitioner, Eeservices, Inc. (Eeservices). Upon receiving the assignment, Eeservices petitioned the circuit court to vacate the tax sale, pursuant to section 21-310(a)(5) of the Property Tax Code (Code) (35 ILCS 200/21-310 (West 2018)) because the Cook County Assessor misidentified the property as located on Dolton Avenue rather than Dolton Road on its website.

         ¶ 2 The trial court initially granted the petition for a sale in error; however, on reconsideration, the court denied the application. The court determined "there is no Dolton Avenue; therefore, it wouldn't have been a mistake that anybody would have relied on" and "[b]ased on this instance, no one would have been misled ***. In fact, this mistake would not have also affected a substantial right of ownership." The court held that "it certainly does not rise to the level of a sale in error that was contemplated by the legislature." For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         ¶ 3 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 4 On appeal, Eeservices contends that the Cook County Assessor erroneously described the subject property and the trial court improperly applied the plain language of section 21-310(a)(5) of the Code in refusing to declare a sale in error. Petitioner's argument raises an issue of statutory interpretation, which we review de novo. In re Application of the Douglas County Treasurer & ex officio County Collector, 2014 IL App (4th) 130261, 24.

         ¶ 5 In construing a statute, our primary objective is to ascertain and give effect to the legislature's intent, and the best indicator of that intent is the language of the statute itself. Carmichael v. Laborers' & Retirement Board Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund, 2018 IL 122793, ¶ 35. A court may not depart from that plain language by reading into the statute exceptions, limitations, or conditions that are not consistent with the expressed legislative intent. Town & Country Utilities, Inc. v. Illinois Pollution Control Board, 225 Ill.2d 103, 117 (2007).

         ¶ 6 However, a court will not read language in isolation; it will consider it in the context of the entire statute. Carmichael, 2018 IL 122793, ¶ 35. The court may also consider the reason for the law, the problems sought to be remedied, the purposes to be achieved, and the consequences of construing the statute one way or another. Id.; Bowman v. Ottney, 2015 IL 119000, ¶ 9. We must presume that the legislature did not intend to produce absurd, inconvenient, or unjust results. Carmichael, 2018 IL 122793, ¶ 35.

         ¶ 7 Section 21-310(a)(5) of the Code states, in pertinent part, as follows:

"(a) When, upon application of the county collector, the owner of the certificate of purchase, or a municipality which owns or has owned the property ordered sold, it appears to the satisfaction of the court which ordered the property sold that any of the following subsections are applicable, the court shall declare the sale to be a sale in error:
* * *
(5) the assessor, chief county assessment officer, board of review, board of appeals, or other county official has made an error (other than an error of judgment as to the value of any property)[.]" 35 ILCS 200/21-310(a)(5) (West 2018).

         ¶ 8 Petitioner directs us to the plain language of the statute and two unpublished Rule 23(b) orders from this court in support of his argument that the mistake in this case warrants a declaration that the tax sale was made in error: In re the Application of County Treasurer & ex officio County Collector, 2014 IL App (1st) 132442-U, and In re the Application of County Treasurer & ex officio County Collector, No. 1-10-1754, slip order at *1 (2011) (unpublished order under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23). Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23(e)(1) prohibits a party from citing an order entered under subpart (b) except to support contentions of ...


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