Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
editor's pick topical top story

Lincoln woman loses legal fight to keep her home following Supreme Court ruling

From the What you missed this week in notable Southeast Nebraska crimes and court cases series
  • Updated
  • 0

A Lincoln woman Friday lost her legal fight to keep her home following a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling where she had challenged the sale of her property tax liens when she had gotten behind on real estate taxes.

"Despite legal protections, (Sandra) Nieveen, who suffers from mental illness, will lose her home of nearly 50 years based on today's ruling," attorney Mark Bestul of Legal Aid of Nebraska said in a news release.

Former Columbus schools employee charged with sending explicit photos, videos to teens
Broken Bow school counselor killed in apparent murder-suicide

Under Nebraska law, counties can sell property tax liens to private parties when homeowners fall behind on their real estate taxes. Regardless of how much equity a homeowner has in his or her property or how small the amount the owner owes in taxes, state law allows the county to take the property and all of the equity in it and transfer it to a private purchaser who pays the unpaid taxes.

If the property owner doesn't pay the money back within three years, the private party can take ownership of the property. 

Bestul said Nieveen tried to rely upon a two-year extension of time for the redemption period based on her mental illness.

Extensions are allowed under Nebraska law if a property owner is determined to suffer a mental disorder at the time of the tax sale.

But both the trial court and the Nebraska Supreme Court determined that Nieveen did not prove she was entitled to it.

In Friday's decision, Justice Jonathan Papik said to qualify for the extension, the party must establish that he or she has a mental health condition and that it prevented them from understanding their legal rights or taking action to protect them.

He said Nieveen acknowledged in testimony that she knew she had to pay her bills and that there were consequences if she did not.

Woman gets probation in connection to Nebraska Beef scheme to relabel meat
Inside the hotel, rented by Nebraskans, that Ukrainian refugees now call home

"While we have no reason to question that Nieveen suffered from depression and anxiety in 2015, we do not believe she proved that those conditions prevented her from understanding her legal rights or taking action to protect them," Papik wrote.

And, he said, Nieveen failed to avail herself of the opportunity for a hearing on the requested extension.

In response to Friday's decision, Bestul said: "The fact our clients, like Ms. Nieveen, who are already dealing with many facets of instability, now also have to lose their home due to a lack of a basic notice is heartbreaking. We firmly believe that low-income, elderly and disabled clients deserve better, and we will continue to fight for fair and equal property rights for all Nebraskans."

He said they are reviewing the decision and determining all possible remaining options, including requesting additional review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Legal Aid of Nebraska was involved in a similar case before the Nebraska Supreme Court, Continental Resources v. Kevin Fair, in which Fair argued Nebraska's tax sale scheme is unconstitutional.

The state's high court ruled against him in March.

Bestul said Fair plans to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court.

'Kool-Aid Man' trend blamed for broken fences in Sarpy County

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

0 Comments
0
0
0
0
0

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Public safety reporter

Lori Pilger is a Norfolk native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been a public safety reporter for the Journal Star since 2005.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News