In a case scheduled for oral argument for April 26, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a ruling allowing the state to confiscate surplus equity obtained through a forced tax sale of privately owned property. Marzulla Law’s Nancie Marzulla worked with appellate attorney Lawrence S. Ebner to prepare an amicus brief on behalf of the Atlantic Legal Foundation that argues for the protection of private property from unconstitutional governmental confiscation.

Here, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected the elderly petitioner’s contention that the refusal by Hennepin County, Minnesota to return the surplus value from the county’s seizure of her property to satisfy local property taxes was a taking of private property without just compensation.

Petitioner Tyler, a 94-year-old woman, owed $15,000 in local property taxes and related penalties in connection with an abandoned condominium. Under state tax-lien statutes, Hennepin County, Minnesota seized the property, sold it for $40,000, and retained the $25,000 surplus. The Eighth Circuit rejected Tyler’s contention that the County’s refusal to return the surplus was a taking of private property without just compensation in violation of the Constitution’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to resolve a split of authority on whether a governmental entity must pay just compensation when it seizes and sells property to collect a debt and keeps the surplus.

For a full report on this amicus brief, visit the Atlantic Legal Foundation’s summary about Tyler v. Hennepin County, Minnesota, No. 22-166 (Supreme Court) (merits stage).