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Everson v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Michigan

May 21, 2019

MARSHERI D.D. EVERSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DELORES J. WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellee.

          Wayne Circuit Court LC No. 16-010607-CH

          Before: Markey, P.J., and Fort Hood and Gadola, JJ.

          Fort Hood, J.

         Plaintiff Marsheri D.D. Everson appeals as of right the trial court's order granting summary disposition and quieting title to 20280 Kentfield, Detroit, Michigan (the Kentfield property) in favor of defendant Delores J. Williams. We reverse and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. THE KENTFIELD PROPERTY

         This action involves the Kentfield property, which originally belonged to plaintiff's grandparents, Cedric D. Everson and Elizabeth A. Everson. While plaintiff was still a minor[1] her grandparents conveyed their interest in the Kentfield property to plaintiff, while retaining life estates in the property. The conveyance provided, in pertinent part, as follows:

With the filing of this Quit Claim Deed it is hereby noted that the Grantors Cedric and Elizabeth Everson Becomes [sic] Tenants of the subject property[.] [I]t is therefore a conditio[n] of this Conveyance that Cedric D. Everson and Elizabeth A. Everson enjoy Peaceful and Continual Occupan[c]y of said property for the remainder of their natural lives.

         Cedric died on January 17, 1997. On April 2, 1997, plaintiff, 11-years-old at the time, purportedly conveyed her interest in the Kentfield property to Elizabeth by way of a quitclaim deed. Following proceedings in the Wayne Probate Court which will be discussed in detail subsequently in this opinion, on August 26, 1999, Elizabeth executed a warranty deed for the Kentfield property to Rondalyn Everson for the sum of $70, 000. Rondalyn subsequently defaulted on her mortgage against the property and a sheriff's deed on mortgage sale was entered on February 26, 2004. On March 12, 2004, Ameriquest Mortgage Company quit claimed the property to WM Specialty Mortgage, LLC. WM Specialty Mortgage executed a covenant deed to Charles Smith for the Kentfield property on January 25, 2005. Finally, on February 24, 2010, Smith quit claimed the Kentfield property to defendant. Elizabeth died on July 18, 2014.

         B. THE PRESENT ACTION

         On August 19, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant action seeking to quiet title to the Kentfield property. As pertinent to this appeal, defendant filed a motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) and (C)(10) claiming that plaintiff's action was (1) barred by the applicable statute of limitations, (2) precluded by the application of the doctrine of res judicata and that title to the Kentfield property should be quieted in favor of defendant. Plaintiff responded, arguing that (1) her claim was not time-barred because it did not accrue until Elizabeth's death in July 2014 and (2) Elizabeth did not have legal authority to convey plaintiff's interest in the Kentfield property. Plaintiff also pointed out that she did not receive any proceeds from the sale of the Kentfield property or an interest in the property that Elizabeth purchased using the proceeds from the sale of the Kentfield property. Following a hearing on defendant's motion, the trial court granted summary disposition in favor of defendant and entered a concomitant order stating that plaintiff's interest in the Kentfield property was extinguished. Plaintiff now appeals as of right.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         We review de novo the trial court's ruling in response to defendant's motion for summary disposition. Beach v Lima Twp, 489 Mich. 99, 105; 802 N.W.2d 1 (2011). The trial court's written order reflects that summary disposition was granted pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7) and (C)(10). A motion for summary disposition brought pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(10), "tests the factual support of a plaintiff's claim. In reviewing a motion under MCR 2.116(C)(10), this Court considers the pleadings, admissions, affidavits, and other relevant documentary evidence of record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party to determine whether any genuine issue of material fact exists to warrant a trial." Walsh v Taylor, 263 Mich.App. 618, 621; 689 N.W.2d 506 (2004) (citation omitted). Defendant also moved for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7), claiming that plaintiff's claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations as well as the doctrine of res judicata.

In reviewing a motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7), a court considers the affidavits, pleadings, and other documentary evidence presented by the parties and accepts the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations as true, except those contradicted by documentary evidence. [McLean v Dearborn, 302 Mich.App. 68, 72-73; 836 N.W.2d 916 (2013).]

         Similarly, this Court reviews de novo the trial court's determination regarding whether the doctrine of res judicata is applicable to plaintiff's claim. Washington v Sinai Hosp of Greater Detroit, 478 Mich. 412, 417; 733 N.W.2d 755 (2007).

         III. ANALYSIS

         As an initial matter, plaintiff argues that this action seeking to quiet title to the Kentfield property is not barred by the applicable 15-year statute of limitations because her claim did not accrue until 2014, when Elizabeth died and Elizabeth's life estate in the Kentfield property was terminated. We agree.

         MCL 600.5801 provides, in pertinent part:

No person may bring or maintain any action for the recovery or possession of any lands or make any entry upon any lands unless, after the claim or right to make the entry first accrued to himself or to someone through whom he claims, he commences the action or makes ...

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