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White v. White

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 21, 2019

PATSY B. WHITE APPELLANT
v.
WILLIAM T. WHITE D/B/A ROYERS ESTATES INC. APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/23/2018

          PIKE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. SUSAN RHEA SHELDON TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PAUL E. ROGERS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: WILLIAM T. WHITE (PRO SE)

         EN BANC

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. This appeal arises from William T. White's failure to transfer title to real property to his mother, Patsy B. White, after she completed payments on the deed of trust. The Pike County Chancery Court dismissed Patsy's second amended complaint and found that her breach-of-contract claim was barred by the statute of frauds and the statute of limitations. She appeals from that order. We find no error and affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In November 2007, Royers Estates Inc. received approximately 22.5 acres of property in Pike County (the "subject property") in exchange for a deed of trust valued at $56, 375. The deed of trust was between William, the owner of Royers Estates, and Pauline Edwards, the previous owner of the property. The deed of trust indicated that it was a security for a promissory note where William was to pay Pauline the sum of $882 per month until it was paid in full.

         ¶3. William became unable to make the monthly payments. Patsy, William's mother, agreed to take over the payments on the subject property in order to avoid foreclosure. Patsy claimed that in exchange for making the payments, William verbally agreed to transfer his interest in the subject property to her.

         ¶4. Along with the deed of trust on the subject property, Patsy also took over payments for other properties under the same condition: that William transfer title to Patsy in return for payment. According to Patsy, "[t]itle to the subject property was supposed to have been transferred at the same time as the other titles to the other properties were transferred . . . ." The deeds evidencing the conveyance of the other properties were attached to the first amended complaint and dated December 16, 2008 and June 16 and 17, 2009.

         ¶5. In November 2013, Patsy completed payments on the subject property. When Patsy attempted to sell the subject property in March 2014, she discovered that title to the subject property had never been transferred to her but instead remained in William's name.

         ¶6. In July 2014, Patsy filed a complaint for quiet title, injunction, and damages. In essence, Patsy sought specific performance of the verbal agreement. Additionally, Patsy asked for damages if the title defect could not be cured and that William be prevented from transferring his interests in the property to any other party.

         ¶7. Patsy amended her complaint one month later to include the other properties she agreed to pay for in return for title. William, acting pro se, filed an answer along with a motion to dismiss. Following a hearing in April 2016, the chancery court allowed Patsy to amend her complaint. On April 22, 2016, Patsy filed a second amended complaint and asserted a claim for breach of contract. Patsy further sought mandatory injunctive relief and requested the imposition of a constructive trust and damages. Patsy also requested "that she be granted a lien against the subject property to secure said lien."

         ¶8. William moved to dismiss the second amended complaint. He asserted that the statute of frauds and the statute of limitations barred Patsy's breach-of-contract claim. The chancery court granted William's motion to dismiss on July 7, 2017. The next day, Patsy moved for reconsideration seeking clarification because the order gave no reason for the dismissal.

         ¶9. On March 23, 2018, the chancery court issued an order with findings of fact and conclusions of law denying Patsy's motion for reconsideration. In that order, the court found that Patsy's breach-of-contract claim was barred by the statute of frauds and the statute of limitations. Additionally, the court determined that Patsy failed to meet the requirements for injunctive relief and "fail[ed] to plead any of the requisite elements for the imposition of a constructive trust." The chancery court concluded that the second amended complaint was properly dismissed for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure.

         ¶10. It is from this order that Patsy now appeals. She alleges that (1) her claim does not violate the statute of frauds; (2) her claim does not violate the statute of limitations; (3) the chancery court wrongly dismissed her request for mandatory injunctive relief; (4) the chancery court wrongly denied the imposition of a constructive trust; and (5) the chancery court wrongly denied her the granting of a lien against the subject property. Finding no error, we affirm.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶11. "Chancellors are vested with broad discretion, and this Court will not disturb the chancellor's findings unless the court's actions were manifestly wrong, the court abused its discretion, or the court applied an erroneous legal standard." Johnston v. Parham, 758 So.2d 443, 445 (¶4) (Miss. Ct. App. 2000).

         ¶12. "When considering a motion to dismiss, this Court's standard of review is de novo." Scaggs v. GPCH-GP Inc., 931 So.2d 1274, 1275 (ΒΆ6) (Miss. 2006). "[T]he allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and the motion should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that the ...


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