Wayside Church updates

The hearing before the Western District took place on February 13 as (re)scheduled. The Minute order (document 518), as expected, says that "motion is taken under advisement, opinion and order to issue." Expect that to take at least a month.

Update 3/29/24: Nothing new on the Kroll web site. We continue to monitor.

Update 4/26/24: Still no update or movement from the Federal court. There were some filings in the last couple of months for and against a proposal to name a "special master" to handle certain disputed claims involving deceased landowners. It is not clear whether this issue has slowed the court's decision on the fairness of the overall proposed settlement. We continue to monitor.

Update 6/1/24: Still no update. We continue to monitor.

There was a Declaration (document 517) filed by Scott Fenwick of Kroll Settlement Services on Feburary 12. This reported on the total number of claims filed, including lienholder claims. Included in the Declaration was the following:

    16. As of February 12, 2024, Kroll has received no fewer than 2,649 Claims where the Claimant indicated their interest in an Eligible Property to be that of an heir or Kroll has identified the Claim as belonging to an heir. These 2,649 Claims are connected to 1,702 Eligible Properties with maximum potential total Surplus Proceeds of $21,842,630.42. After removing Claims received on any Eligible Property that had also received a request for exclusion, the maximum potential Surplus Proceeds for heir Claims would be $20,734,075.51.
    17. As agreed by Counsel, any Claimant whose Claim is deemed deficient will be notified via first-class mail of their deficiency and given forty-five (45) days to cure such deficiency. Should the Claimant not cure the deficiency, that Claim will be rejected under the terms of the Settlement.
As of April 26, for the 16 estate claims we are handling, there has not been any communication from Kroll.


Under the General Property Tax Act (GPTA), after a county forecloses on a parcel of land for unpaid property taxes in default for more than three years, the parcel becomes the county’s property on entry of a judgment of foreclosure, and then can be sold at auction. The proceeds are then used to pay the back property taxes and any accumulated interest and penalties.

The GPTA went further and permitted the county to retain all of the proceeds from auction sales, and did not require that the excess funds be paid over to the defaulting landowner.

In the case of Rafaeli v. Oakland County, decided in 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the sections of the GPTA that allowed counties to retain the excess funds were unconstitutional, as a taking of private property without compensation.

The Wayside Church lawsuit was filed in Federal court in Grand Rapids, as a class action, against several counties in Western Michigan and the U.P., seeking repayment of the excess proceeds received by the counties and not returned to landowners.

A description of the Rafaeli case can be found at this link.

The Kroll Settlement Site provides updated information on the status of the class action lawsuit.