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Estate of Pounds v. Shirley

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 10, 2017

THE ESTATE OF JAMES R. POUNDS; JAMES BRADLEY POUNDS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF JAMES R. POUNDS; SONYA POUNDS TUCKER; AND EULA MAE POUNDS APPELLANTS
v.
J.L. SHIRLEY AND LINDA SHIRLEY APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/06/2016

         PRENTISS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. C. MICHAEL MALSKI JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: GREG E. BEARD

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: CASEY LANGSTON LOTT JOE-COLBY RAY LANGSTON

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. The executor of the estate of James R. Pounds (Pounds Estate), and heirs individually, appeal the ruling of the Prentiss County Chancery Court. The chancellor reformed the warranty deed of the subject property, finding that the deed mistakenly included property not mutually agreed upon by the decedent and the owner. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Jim "J.L." Shirley (Shirley) was deeded land east of the Brown's Creek Channel by his uncle, H.C. Shirley, in 1970. The deed conveyed "all that part of [eight tracts] lying and being east of Brown's Creek Channel." In 1988, Shirley was conveyed the land west of Brown's Creek by his uncle's widow, Eloise Cavaness Shirley. Shirley leased his land to James[1] for farming purposes for a number of years. In 1997, Shirley, suffering from cancer, decided to sell the tract of his land east of Brown's Creek to James.

         ¶3. Shirley and James undertook discussions about the sale and purchase of the land east of Brown's Creek, but they never discussed the exact acreage. The 1997 conveyance from Shirley to James was for the purchase price of $105, 000 and was owner financed by Shirley, who held a deed of trust that was never recorded. There were two deeds relating to the 1997 conveyance of land. The first deed was signed on January 13, 1997. That deed read in part: "In consideration of the sum of ten dollars and other valuable consideration . . ., I [] hereby convey to [] J.L. Shirley [] the following described land in Prentiss County, Mississippi, to-wit: All that part of the following described land lying and being East of Brown's Creek Channel . . . ."

         ¶4. The second deed, a purportedly corrected deed, was signed the following day, on January 14, 1997. Both Shirley and his wife, Linda, signed the second deed, though Linda's signature was not necessary because the deed was titled in James's name only.

         ¶5. The 1997 deeds were prepared by a local attorney, Ellis Finch. There were only three people (Shirley, James, and Finch) present when the property was transferred. The 1997 deeds contained the exact language set forth in the second two paragraphs of the 1970 deed. However, Finch moved the language specifying that the only part of the land being conveyed was "all that part of [eight tracts] lying and being east of Brown's Creek" from the first paragraph to the second paragraph of the deed. Though the 1997 deed contained nearly the exact same language as that of the 1970 deed, the following alterations created the case in controversy:

For and in consideration of the sum of [t]en [d]ollars ($10.00) and other good and valuable considerations, the receipt and sufficiency of all of which is hereby acknowledged, I, J.L. Shirley, do hereby convey and warrant to James R. Pounds, the land situated in Prentiss County, Mississippi, and being more particularly described as follows: All that part of the following described land lying and being [e]ast of Brown's Creek Channel . . . .

         ¶6. James became ill and passed away in July 2014. James Bradley Pounds (Bradley), James's son, undertook the farming operations on his father's land. Bradley had his father's land surveyed following his death. As a result of the description of the property in the corrected deed, the surveyor included land west of Brown's Creek in his survey. The Shirleys were not aware of any claim to the land west of Brown's Creek. On December 29, 2014, James's surviving heirs ...


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