COLEMAN vs DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA | Class Action - Benjamin Coleman brought this lawsuit to challenge a District of Columbia law that directed the sale of a lien on his home after he failed to pay a $133.88 property-tax bill.

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COLEMAN vs DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA | Class Action – Benjamin Coleman brought this lawsuit to challenge a District of Columbia law that directed the sale of a lien on his home after he failed to pay a $133.88 property-tax bill.

COLEMAN vs DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA | Class Action – Benjamin Coleman brought this lawsuit to challenge a District of Columbia law that directed the sale of a lien on his home after he failed to pay a $133.88 property-tax bill.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
__________________________________

BENJAMIN COLEMAN, through his
Conservator, ROBERT BUNN, et al.,

Plaintiffs,

v.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,

Defendant.
__________________________________

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Benjamin Coleman brought this lawsuit to challenge a District
of Columbia law that directed the sale of a lien on his home
after he failed to pay a $133.88 property-tax bill. That law
permitted the private purchaser of the lien to add $4,999 in
interest, costs, and fees to Mr. Coleman’s bill and, when Mr.
Coleman could not pay, to institute a foreclosure proceeding.
After the foreclosure proceeding, the private purchaser obtained
title to Mr. Coleman’s home. Mr. Coleman, however, received
nothing, although the amount of equity he had in his home far
surpassed the amount he admittedly owed in taxes, interest,
costs, and related fees. Because the loss of this surplus equity
was dictated by District of Columbia law, Mr. Coleman sued to
challenge that law. His claim is that the taking of his excess
equity—the amount of equity minus the taxes and related costs he
admits that he owed—violated his constitutional rights under the
Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. As a remedy for the alleged constitutional
violation, Mr. Coleman asked this Court to award him monetary
damages and to issue a declaratory judgment. Mr. Coleman brought
this case not only on his own behalf, but also as a
representative of all District property owners who suffered a
loss of excess equity due to the District’s tax-sale law.

[…]

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