United States District Court, D. Nevada
R. HICKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a quiet-title action brought by Plaintiff Wood Bro Capital
against the defendants Fred Underwood, Angela Underwood, and
Dwight Carlton (collectively “defaulted
defendants”). The court will grant judgment to Wood Bro
because the defaulted defendants have failed to respond to
Wood Bro's complaint and Wood Bro has satisfied the
requirements of NRS 40.110 and NRS 40.100.
Bro purports to be the current owner of the real property at
issue (“subject property”), located in Washoe
County, Nevada. ECF No. 1-1 at ¶ 1. Wood Bro
purchased the subject property by quitclaim deed in 2015 from
non-party Wood is Good, LLC. Id. at ¶ 7. Wood
is Good originally acquired the property from a Washoe County
tax sale in 2010, which resulted from the then-owner's
failure to pay property tax. Id. at ¶ 8. The
county treasurer conveyed the property by quitclaim deed.
Id. Prior to the tax sale, the property was held by
the defaulted defendants, who recorded their deed in 1996.
Id. at ¶ 9.
subject property was encumbered by two separate federal tax
liens in favor of the United States and against Angela
Underwood. Id. at ¶ 10. Both liens were
recorded in Washoe County in 2007. Id.
Bro now brings this quiet-title action. Wood Bro filed suit
against the United States, the defaulted defendants, and
Duane and Genevieve South. Wood Bro has since reached a
settlement agreement with the United States, in which Wood
Bro shall use the proceeds from the sale of the subject
property to satisfy liens held by the United States.
See ECF Nos. 42, 46, 49.
defaulting defendant's ownership of the subject property
was subject to a First Deed of Trust in favor of the Souths.
ECF No. 44 at 3. The Souths did not answer the complaint or
appear, but voluntarily executed a Substitution of Trustee
Under Deed of Trust and Deed of Reconveyance, which was
recorded on March 28, 2017, in Washoe County, Nevada.
Id. at 2. The Souths have thus reconveyed all title
and interest to the current subject-property owners (i.e.,
Wood Bro). Id. at 7. In turn, Wood Bro voluntarily
dismissed the Souths from this action. ECF No. 47.
The only remaining issue is the defaulting defendant's
January 20, 2017, Wood Bro moved for entry of clerk's
default against Carlton and the Underwoods (ECF Nos. 32-33),
which was entered (ECF Nos. 38-39). Because Nevada law
prohibits courts from entering default judgment on
quiet-title claims, this court ordered Wood Bro to file
points & authorities, supported by admissible evidence,
that establish its title to the subject property and
compliance with NRS 40.100 and 40.110. ECF No. 48. The court
now considers Wood Bro's filings.
quiet-title action does not consist of any particular
elements, but “each party must plead and prove his or
her own claim to the property in question and, a
plaintiff's right to relief therefore depends on
superiority of title.” Chapman v. Deutsche Bank
Nat'l Trust Co., 302 P.3d 1103, 1106 (Nev. 2013)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Yukeno v.
Mafnas, 973 F.2d 803, 808 (9th Cir. 1992)). When a
defendant fails to answer in a quiet-title action, NRS 40.110
prohibits courts from entering default judgment and instead
directs courts to “require evidence of Plaintiff's
title and possession, and receive such legal evidence as may
be offered respecting the claims and title of any of the
Defendants . . . .” Nev. Rev. Stat. § 40.110(1).
Only after receiving such evidence may a court “direct
judgment to be entered in accordance with the evidence and
the law.” Id.
40.110 further directs courts to receive evidence “that
the summons [was] served and posted as” required under
NRS 40.100. Id. Under this statute, a plaintiff
must, within one year of the complaint's filing, serve
the summons in a “manner and form” that complies
with the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure. Id. §
40.100(1). The statute further requires that, “[w]ithin
30 days of the issuance of the summons, the Plaintiff shall
post or cause to be posted a copy [of the summons] in a
conspicuous place, on each separate parcel of the property
described in the complaint . . . .” Id. §
discussed below, the court finds that Wood Bro has satisfied
the additional service requirements under NRS 40.100 and that
Wood Bro has proven its title and possession of the subject
Wood Bro satisfies the additional service requirements under
Bro provided a copy of the original summons served to
defendant Carlton. ECF No. 49-1. However, Wood Bro was unable
to locate the Underwoods or any potential heirs. Process
servers conducted a multi-state search for the Underwoods but
could not find them. Id. at 5. Therefore, Wood Bro
published the summons in the Reno Gazette-Journal on
September 21 and 28, 2016, and October 5 and 12, 2016.
Id. Service by publication is sufficient “when
the person on whom service is to be made . . . cannot, after
due diligence, be found within the state . . . .” Nev.
R. Civ. P. 4(e)(1)(i). Further, publication of service must
“be made in a newspaper, published in the State of