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Petersen Financial LLC v. Twin Creeks LLC
Court of Appeals of Michigan
November 22, 2016
PETERSEN FINANCIAL LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant,
TWIN CREEKS LLC, Defendant, and TWIN CREEK ESTATES ASSOCIATION, JAMES SCHAEFER, JILL SCHAEFER, GARY BURGHGRAEF, and MELANIE BURGHGRAEF, Defendants-Appellees. PETERSEN FINANCIAL LLC, Plaintiff-Appellee,
TWIN CREEKS LLC, TWIN CREEK ESTATES ASSOCIATION, GARY BURGHGRAEF, and MELANIE BURGHGRAEF, Defendants, and JAMES SCHAEFER and JILL SCHAEFER, Defendants-Appellants.
Circuit Court LC No. 14-006711-CH
Before: SAWYER, P.J., and MARKEY and O'BRIEN, JJ.
Docket No. 329019, plaintiff appeals from the trial
court's grant of summary disposition in favor of
defendants on plaintiff's claim for slander of title and
tortious interference with a business expectancy. In Docket
No. 329622, defendants James and Jill Schaefer appeal from
the trial court's grant of summary disposition in favor
of plaintiff on plaintiff's claim to quiet title,
specifically that certain deed restrictions do not apply to
their property. We affirm.
dispute involves a parcel located in the Twin Creeks
development in Cannon Township in Kent County. The time line
begins in 2000, when defendant Twin Creeks Development, LLC,
owned all of the lots in the development. Thereafter, the
following relevant events occurred:
• In 2002, most of the lot at issue here was conveyed by
Twin Creeks Development to Carla Wolterstoff, with the
remainder of the lot conveyed in 2004.
• In 2006, Twin Creeks, LLC,  recorded a document entitled
"Deed Restrictions" covering all of the lots in the
development; the date on the documents suggests that it had
been executed four years earlier, in 2002.
• Carla Wolterstoff lost the lot due to a tax lien, with
the Kent County Treasurer obtaining title early in February
• Plaintiff purchased the lot at a foreclosure sale in
individual defendants, the Schaefers and the Burghgraefs, own
parcels within the development. According to plaintiff, it was
unaware of the deed restrictions when it purchased the
property, but when it listed the property for sale, Gary
Burghgraef sent an email to plaintiff's real estate agent
notifying the agent that the property was subject to deed
restrictions. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 13.) Additionally,
according to an affidavit by plaintiff's real estate
agent, she had been "contacted several times by the
Defendants in this matter who informed me that there were
deed restrictions on Plaintiff's property and that they
intended to enforce those restrictions." According to
the real estate agent, they passed this information along to
prospective buyers, who thereafter lost interest as a result.
upon this, plaintiff filed the instant action. Ultimately,
the trial court granted summary disposition in favor of
defendants on the claim for slander of title. The trial court
opined as follows:
In order to prevail on a common-law slander of title claim, a
plaintiff must prove "that the defendant maliciously
published false statements that disparaged a plaintiff's
right in property, causing special damages." Fed Nat
Mortg Ass'n v Lagoons Forest Condo Ass'n, 305
Mich.App. 258, 270; 852 N.W.2d 217 (2014).
The dispositive issue here is the publication requirement.
Plaintiff has produced no evidence that Defendants made
comments or other communications regarding the deed
restrictions to anyone other than Plaintiff and
Plaintiff's real estate agents. "Publication to an
agent of the plaintiff who is acting at plaintiff's
behest and on his behalf is tantamount to a publication to
the plaintiff himself, and as such does not fulfill the
publication requirement." Delval v PPG Indus,
Inc, 590 N.E.2d 1078, 1081 (Ind App, 1992).
Since Plaintiff cannot satisfy the publication requirement,
its slander of title claim fails and must be dismissed ...