KELVIN TRAVIS, CAROLYN TRAVIS, AND ALL PERSONS OR ENTITIES AND ALL UNKNOWN PARTIES IN INTEREST CLAIMING AN INTEREST IN THE REAL PROPERTY AND IMPROVEMENTS DESCRIBED HEREIN APPELLANTS
GMAC MORTGAGE, LLC APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 10/12/2015
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. DAWN H. BEAM TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: MAURICE MCINTOSH FORSYTH.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: TERRY L. CAVES RISHER GRANTHAM CAVES.
LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.
In this appeal, we must decide whether the chancellor abused
her discretion when, applying the doctrines of equitable
estoppel and unjust enrichment, she ordered the divestiture
and exchange of certain real property from Kelvin and Carolyn
Travis to GMAC Mortgage LLC. Finding no abuse of discretion,
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 2002, Donald Travis received a deed from R.C. Travis and
Charles Travis, his father and uncle, to a parcel of land
identified as Parcel A, located in Perry County, Mississippi.
Donald and his wife, Joe Ann Travis, contracted with DIMA
Homes to construct a house on the property described as
Parcel A. They pledged the property as security for the
construction loan. DIMA built the home according to
Donald's instructions, on what was believed to be Parcel
A. Donald believed the house was built within the boundaries
of the deed. Donald and Joe Ann signed a promissory note and
deed of trust with Homecomings Financial Network Inc.,
pledging the house, improvements, and the land described as
Parcel A as security for the loan. Homecomings Financial
Network paid off the DIMA construction loan.
Donald and Joe Ann lived in the home from May 2003 until
sometime in 2010 when they defaulted on the loan. Homecomings
Financial Network assigned the deed of trust and note to
Nationstar Mortgage LLC in November 2010. The property went
into foreclosure. During that time, Donald's brother and
sister-in-law, Kelvin and Carolyn Travis, negotiated to
purchase the home from Nationstar. Pursuant to the sale, a
title search and survey were performed, and the survey
revealed that the house was located partly off of Parcel A.
In fact, the house was located partly on Parcel A, Parcel B,
and Parcel C. Donald and Kelvin's mother owned Parcels B
and C. Due to the location of the house, the contract for the
sale of the home was cancelled.
In January 2011, Nationstar foreclosed its deed of trust and
conveyed the property to Federal National Mortgage
Association. Around the same time, Kelvin obtained a deed
from his mother to Parcels B and C. He admitted at trial that
he believed this would enable him to secure a lower purchase
price of the house. Federal National Mortgage Association
conveyed its interest in the property to GMAC Mortgage LLC in
February 2012. After GMAC acquired the property, it learned
that the house was not completely located on Parcel A.
In July 2012, Kelvin and Carolyn moved in to the house and
lived there for approximately three years, rent free. Kelvin
claimed that he made improvements prior to moving in to the
property, but was unable to show any evidence of
expenditures. He stated that he believed he would eventually
obtain title to the house and Parcel A, but admitted knowing
all along that GMAC claimed title to Parcel A. Kelvin further
admitted that neither he, nor Travis, nor their mother
objected to the location of the home during its construction.
GMAC filed suit in the Perry County Chancery Court against
Kelvin and Carolyn (Travises) with claims of equitable
estoppel, unjust enrichment, constructive trust, and
ejectment. The Travises filed an answer but did not plead any
affirmative defenses or assert any counterclaims. GMAC
proposed to the chancellor a property exchange wherein the
Travises would receive a 1.12-acre tract of land-an acreage
equal to Parcels B and C; and GMAC would receive a two-acre
tract of land containing the house-an acreage equal to Parcel
A. The chancellor found that the Travises were not bona fide
purchasers for value, and their occupation of the home
constituted unjust enrichment. Applying the doctrines of