CHARLESTON -- A Louisville, Ky., man is suing the Kanawha County sheriff after he claims property he owned was wrongfully sold in a tax sale and its new owners are trespassing.

Vera McCormick, the clerk of the County Commission of Kanawha County; and Robert L. Grass Jr. and Donna Grass were also named as defendants in the suit.

Thomas Waters and his mother purchased property in Charleston in 1998, according to a complaint filed May 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Waters claims the property has been taxed by the Kanawha County Sheriff's Tax Office since 1999 and that as a result of a delinquency of the 2007 real estate taxes for the property, it was sold by Mike Rutherford at a tax sale conducted in November 2008 to the Grasses.

Based upon the date of the tax sale, Waters could have redeemed the property from the sheriff's department from the date of the tax sale until April 1, according to the suit. West Virginia Code required the clerk to serve notice to redeem upon all persons named on the list generated by the purchaser, according to the suit.

On Jan. 13, the clerk sent notice to Waters, as well as his deceased mother, at the physical address for the property, but because Waters is a resident of Kentucky and does not live at the property, he did not receive the notice and the correspondence was returned as unclaimed and unable to forward, according to the suit.

On March 8, Waters claims he attempted to pay the real estate taxes on the property by sending a personal check to the sheriff's department and was then notified that the property had been sold at a tax sale and must be redeemed, but no notice to redeem or redemption information was included with his returned check.

The Grasses contacted Waters and demanded him to remove his remaining personal belongings from the property, according to the suit.

Waters is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Joyce F. Ofsa, Molly B. White and Timothy D. Houston.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-853




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