STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS
GERI ANN PETRANGELO, as Finance :
Director for the Town of West Warwick :
K.C. No. 00-36
LANPHEAR, J. The focus of this action is whether or not Mr. Khalil received adequate
notice of a tax sale. 1 This case was submitted to the Court on an agreed statement of
facts, in lieu of trial, and in reliance on the memoranda previously submitted in the file.
Findings of Fact
Mr. Khalil received ownership of property at 17-19 McNiff Street, West
Warwick, by a deed in February 1995. The deed indicates “Grantee’s Mailing Address:
18 Mason St., West Warwick, R.I. 02893.” 2 The deed then lists the street address for the
In the spring of 1998, as taxes had not been paid, the McNiff Street property was
scheduled for a tax sale. The Town of West Warwick sent notices of the sale by certified
mail to Mr. Khalil at 17-19 McNiff Street, West Warwick, R.I. That envelope was
returned unclaimed. The tax sale was held April 8, 1998.
Through his memorandum, Mr. Khalil raises a bevy of challenges to the notice he received, some specific
and some general.
A copy of the deed is attached to plaintiff’s pretrial exchange of information.
Banks that had provided mortgages on the property also received notices of the
sale. In September 1999, one of the mortgagees, G.E. Capital Mortgage Services, Inc.,
redeemed the interest of the tax sale buyer by paying $20,411.16.
While Mr. Khalil acknowledges that some taxes were due, he seeks recovery
against the Town of West Warwick as he incurred additional charges as a result of the tax
sale. He claims that he received insufficient notice of the sale.
Analysis and Conclusions of Law
Notice of the Sale.
Mr. Khalil’s principle claim is that he failed to receive adequate notice of the tax
sale held by the Town. 3
Certified mail was sent to Mr. Khalil at 17-19 McNiff Street, West Warwick.
(Agreed Statement of Fact, ¶6). What is not established is where Mr. Khalil lived at the
time and whether he provided that address to the tax collector. Mr. Khalil rests only on
the bare agreement of facts and his deposition testimony.
Obviously, the billing
addresses used by the taxing authorities of the Town changed, but there is no indication
as to how they changed. More importantly, there is no indication that Mr. Khalil did not
live at the addresses where notice was sent.
In his deposition Mr. Khalil recalled little, and did not know how or why the tax
collector directed some mail to his other addresses and addresses of his family members.
This contention was previously addressed in the Court’s order denying summary judgment of May 1,
(Husni Khalil deposition pp. 25-32). He does not even recall whether or not he asked the
tax collector to redirect some mail. 4
The rights of the parties at a tax sale foreclosure proceeding are determined by the
law in force on the date of the tax sale. See Sycamore Properties, LLC v. Tabriz Realty,
LLC, 870 A.2d 424, 427 n. 7 (R.I. 2005); Kildeer Realty v. Brewster Realty Corp., 826
A.2d 961, 965 (R.I. 2003); Town of Jamestown v. Pennsylvania Company for Banking
and Trusts, 101 R.I. 274, 279; 221 A.2d 821, 823 (1966); 140 Reservoir Avenue
Associates v. Sepe Investments, LLC, 941 A.2d 805, 811 (R.I. 2007). Unfortunately, the
Court is left with uncertainty. The agreed facts fail to establish that Mr. Khalil was not
sent notice where he directed it to be sent. They fail to establish that the Town did not
meet the statutory requirements at the time.
Various addresses were listed for Mr. Khalil in the tax assessor’s rolls. The agreement of facts state that
Mr. Khalil asked that bills be sent to different addresses, but it is not clear when he made those requests.
Mr. Khalil once resided on Mason Street in West Warwick prior to separating from his wife. He then
moved to the McNiff Street property, but it is not known when those moves were made. The deposition
fails to add much more clarity. On pages 25-32 of his deposition, Mr. Khalil was unsure why each of his
tax bills was sent to a different address, some belonging to his brother. This exchange is typical of his
Question: But you have no explanation as to how the Town of West Warwick, received a) the
name of your brother, Ziad, and b) the different address in Warwick, being 9 Reed Street and the other
address being 292 Blackstone Street in Fall River, Mass?
Answer: I have no explanation.
Question: Okay. And finally 1999, which is ---… If you go to the top of the page. –
Question: It says Husni Khalil, 18 Mason Street, right?
Question: And that’s your Mason Street property?
Question: Do you recall telling the town of West Warwick the tax collectors’s office, to stop
sending the notices of the taxes to Ziad in Fall River, Mass. and start sending them to you?
Question: I cannot recall, but maybe when I refinanced –
Answer: I don’t know when you refinanced.
Question: Maybe when I refinanced, they did the change or something.
Question: But again, when you did the refinance, who told the town where to send the taxes?
Was it your attorney?
Answer: Probably our attorney, yes. Deposition of Husni Khalil, pp. 31-32.
Burden of Proof
As indicated, Mr. Khalil argues that he did not receive appropriate notice of a
1998 tax sale. Not only was the property sold, but the tax sale was redeemed in 1999.
Paragraph 7 of the stipulated facts indicates that notice was sent to the McNiff Street
property address. Paragraph 13 establishes that Mr. Khalil used that address at the time.
As the plaintiff seeking to establish that the notice was defective or contrary to the
statute, Mr. Khalil bears the initial burden of proof for the proposition he advances.
Holden v. Salvadore, 964 A.2d 508, 516 (R.I. 2009). Mr. Khalil has not satified his
burden of proof.
Notice of Redemption.
Mr. Khalil also challenges the sufficiency of the notice of the right of redemption.
While Mr. Khalil received notice of the suit foreclosing the right of redemption, he relies
upon In Re Pontes, 310 F.Supp.2d 447 (U.S.D.C., R.I. 2004) for the assertion that notice
prior to the suit is required. Pontes was a bankruptcy appeal wherein the federal courts
asserted that Mr. Pontes preserved his rights to question the adequacy of notice by
instituting an adversarial action in bankruptcy. In this case, it is not clear that Mr. Khalil
acted at all in response to the foreclosure action. These facts are not detailed in the
summary judgment document or the agreed facts. The law is not addressed in the
Mr. Khalil has not established insufficient notice of the right to
See also the burden placed upon the alleged owners in a tax foreclosure case in Harvey Realty v. Killingly
Manor Condominium Assocation, 787 A.2d 465, 467 (R.I. 2001).
For the reasons stated, Mr. Khalil has failed to establish that notice was defective.
Judgment shall enter for the Town of West Warwick and against Mr. Khalil on all counts.