Rosenberg v. Smidt

In Rosenberg v. Smidt, 727 P.2d 778 (Alaska 1986) the Alaska Supreme Court discussed the concept of giving notice by mail to the affected party's last known address. Though that case dealt with a statutory requirement for giving notice to interest holders in a non-judicial foreclosure of a real property deed of trust, the court also discussed the matter in the context of giving notice in judicial proceedings. In fact, the Alaska court seemed to conclude that a stricter rule would apply in the judicial setting than in the case of a foreclosure because of specific federal due process requirements in judicial proceedings that the notice method employed be one "reasonably calculated to apprize the parties of the pendency of the action." Id. 781. After a lengthy analysis, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded that the term "last known address" meant something more than would appear from a literal reading of the phrase, and concluded that the phrase carried with it an obligation of due diligence on the part of the person giving notice to determine that the address is "that one most likely to give the party to be served notice." Id. In the context of notice of non-judicial foreclosure, the court announced a firm rule: We conclude that the last known address is that address most likely to give the affected party notice. The trustee is obligated to exercise due diligence to determine that address. Failure to impose such a requirement would not balance adequately the competing interests involved. Rosenburg, 727 P.2d at 783. In Rosenberg v. Smidt, the court found inadequate a notice sent to an interested party's last address on record with the mortgagee when the notice came back unclaimed, imposing a due diligence duty on the trustee in that circumstance to obtain a better address, even though the statute specifically permitted notice to be sent to the "last known address." Id. 779-80.