On December 12, 2022, co-lead counsel Aaron D. Cox and the Law Offices of Aaron D. Cox, PLLC – along with co-counsel Mark Wasvary, David Shea, Ashley Shea, Philip Ellison, and Matthew Gronda — received final judgment from a federal court judge in Detroit, Michigan approving a class action settlement of $38,000,000 on behalf of over 2,000 Oakland County property owners who alleged an unconstitutional taking during a faulty tax-foreclosure process. The fund of $38,000,000 resulted in those class claimants receiving 100% of their losses.
The action arose out of property tax foreclosures in Wayne and Oakland counties after the Law Offices of Aaron D. Cox, PLLC successfully represented the Plaintiff in Rafaeli, LLC v. Oakland County, 505 Mich 429 (2020), which resulted in the seminal opinion from the Michigan Supreme Court that the Counties retention of surplus proceeds from tax foreclosures was a constitutional violation of Michigan’s takings clause. That ruling was due in large part to the efforts of Christina Martin and the Pacific Legal Foundation, who have recently argued a similar case before the United States Supreme Court in Tyler v. Hennepin County.
Plaintiffs in this case, former real property owners, alleged violations of their constitutional rights and Michigan law in connection with the tax foreclosure process. Plaintiffs filed a putative class action Complaint on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated individuals against Wayne County, Oakland County, and their respective Treasurers. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants wrongfully retained the sales proceeds exceeding the taxes they owed on the properties and sought unpaid “just compensation” and other monetary damages. Judge Linda Parker certified the class action and approved the settlement after a final fairness hearing.
Oakland County and its officials became the first Michigan Governmental entity to take the steps to cure the constitutional wrongs identified in Rafaeli. Oakland County and its leadership should be commended for ensuring that these funds were returned to the citizens they serve.
The class action will continue against Wayne County and its Treasurer, Eric Sabree.
Read a copy of the Court’s Final Judgment and Order here: