Roberts v. Robert
In Roberts v. Robert, 215 Ariz. 176,16, 158 P.3d 899, 903 (App. 2007), two real property tax lien holders brought a lawsuit against the property owner of record, the Mohave County Treasurer, various fictitious parties, and the "unknown heirs of any of" them, seeking to foreclose their right to redeem the tax lien. Roberts, 215 Ariz. 176,1, 158 P.3d at 900.
The tax lien holders then discovered the property owner was deceased and negotiated a deal with the decedent's son, the "person in charge of the defendant's estate," whereby the lien holders would obtain a default judgment but would not pursue fees or costs against the son or the decedent's estate. Id. Pursuant to the agreement, the lien holders obtained a default judgment purporting to bar the decedent "or any person claiming title 'under' her" from asserting any rights in the property. Id.
A year later, however, a second son of the decedent appeared and claimed the default judgment "was void insofar as it purported to foreclose his right to redeem." Id.2. The trial court disagreed and denied relief. Id.
On appeal, we reversed the trial court's judgment, holding that the second son held a legal right to redeem the tax lien on his deceased mother's real property. Id.3.
The Court reasoned that, as an heir, the second son was entitled to redeem by reason of his ownership interest in the property, which he had acquired "by operation of law" after his mother's death. Id.14. And "because the lienholders failed to join him as a defendant in their foreclosure action, the foreclosure judgment did not foreclose his right to redeem." Id.15; see also A.R.S. 42-18204(A)(1) (if prerequisites met, trial court "shall enter judgment . . . foreclosing the right of the defendant to redeem").
The Court noted that the result was consistent with the legal principle that a person who is not a party to a lawsuit generally is not bound by the result. Roberts, 215 Ariz. 176,17, 158 P.3d at 903.