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Gibson v. Shoemake

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 18, 2019

MARK GIBSON, HL&C - LAURA VILLA LLC AND C&C SALES LLC APPELLANTS
v.
RANDY R. SHOEMAKE AND GEORGIA M. SHOEMAKE APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/10/2017

          PEARL RIVER COUNTY CHANCERY COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHNNY LEE WILLIAMS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: G. GERALD CRUTHIRD

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: NATHAN S. FARMER

          BEFORE CARLTON, P.J., TINDELL AND McDONALD, JJ.

          TINDELL, J.

         ¶1. Mark Gibson, HL&C - Laura Villa LLC, and C&C Sales LLC (collectively "the Appellants") entered into a contract with Randy Shoemake on March 23, 2004, for the sale and purchase of a tract of land and a mobile home ("the 2004 contract"). On July 21, 2010, HL&C - Laura Villa and Randy executed a second contract, without Georgia Shoemake's signature, extending the payment time period and the interest rate for the property ("the 2010 contract"). The Appellants now challenge the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and final judgment of the Pearl River County Chancery Court, which held that (1) the 2004 contract was valid and binding to the parties; (2) the 2010 contract did not constitute a reformation, but rather, a brand new contract between the parties; (3) Georgia did not sign the 2010 contract, thereby making it void under Mississippi law; and (4) the Appellants' acceptance of Randy's final payment and handwritten "payoff" receipt fulfilled the 2004 contract pursuant to the accord and satisfaction doctrine. Upon review, we find that substantial evidence supports the chancellor's conclusions, and we therefore affirm the chancellor's judgment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Randy and Georgia Shoemake were married on May 3, 1986, and were long-time residents of Pearl River County, Mississippi. Hoping to purchase a tract of land and a mobile home for Georgia and himself in their hometown, Randy entered into a contract for the purchase and sale of real property with C&C Sales on March 23, 2004. Mark Gibson ("Gibson"), who represented C&C Sales, drafted and executed the 2004 contract with the following terms: (1) The purchase price totaled $43, 400; (2) Randy had to pay a $2, 500 down payment with $1, 500 of that down payment financed and payable in fifteen equal, consecutive, and monthly installments of $100; (3) The remaining $39, 400 had to be paid in monthly installments of $426.12 for 120 months beginning on May 3, 2004; and (4) Randy had to pay the principal amount plus interest by the third day of every month until paid in full. The calculated interest for the property was approximately 5.4244% per annum. Upon the execution of the 2004 contract, no deed to the property was delivered to Randy or Georgia. The record indicates that the deed would be delivered to Randy upon satisfaction of the full purchase price of the property. Randy began making monthly payments thereafter, and Gibson accepted the payments on behalf of C&C Sales.

         ¶3. Unbeknownst to the Shoemakes, at the time that the 2004 contract was executed, the title of the property was in the name of Philip J. Kahan according to an instrument dated September 9, 2003, that was located in the Chancery Clerk's office of Pearl River County. But Kahan conveyed the title to this property to HL&C - Laura Villa on June 3, 2009.

         ¶4. On July 21, 2010, Gibson requested that Randy sign a deed of trust in favor of HL&C - Laura Villa along with two separate promissory notes-one reflecting payment of the $39, 400 in monthly installments of $426.12 for 240 months with an 11.79% interest, and the other reflecting a six-month payment plan of $426.12 to HLC - Laura Villa, LLC (the "2010 contract"). Although Randy signed these documents, Georgia did not sign the Deed of Trust or the two promissory notes. Afterward, Randy continued making payments and Gibson continued accepting said payments until 2014.

         ¶5. On September 3, 2014, Randy appeared before Gibson and presented him with a check for $1, 278.36 and a receipt handwritten by Randy. The receipt was entitled "payoff" and stated, "Our Contract agreement fully met, its been nice doing business with you. Take care and God Bless." Gibson, individually and on behalf of the Appellants, accepted the check and the receipt and wrote on the receipt, "Received on September 3, 2014. Will review and get back with you in two weeks." Randy made no more payments on the property after this date. The Appellants, relying upon the 2010 contract, insisted that Randy owed an outstanding balance of $29, 063.50 that Randy refused to pay. On February 20, 2015, the Appellants began foreclosure proceedings and demanded that Randy repay the outstanding balance on the property. The Shoemakes then filed suit against the Appellants.

         ¶6. The chancellor held a trial on this matter on April 12, 2016, and the Shoemakes produced receipts executed on behalf of C&C, HL&C - Laura Villa, and/or Gibson, with dates ranging from March 19, 2004 through September 2014 (all having a combined total of $56, 286.32). The receipts also showed that Randy made no further payments following their final payment in September of 2014. On August 10, 2017, the chancellor entered his findings of fact, conclusions of law, and final judgment. The chancellor found as follows: (1)the 2010 contract was not a reformation of the 2004 contract, but rather, a new contract; (2)because Georgia had a homestead interest in the subject property, her lack of signature on the 2010 Deed of Trust voided the Deed of Trust; and (3) the Appellants accepted Randy's final check in 2014 and thereby satisfied his indebtedness to the Appellants, pursuant to the doctrine of accord and satisfaction. The chancellor ultimately voided the 2010 contract and voided the foreclosure sale. The chancellor also imposed a constructive trust against the Appellants to hold title for the benefit of the Shoemakes and imposed an equitable lien against the property and any improvements on the property for the benefit of the Shoemakes. Finally, the chancellor voided any and all foreclosure sales against the property and enjoined the Appellants from interfering with the Shoemakes' title and quiet enjoyment of the property and improvements made on the property. The Appellants now timely appeal this judgment.

         STANDARD ...


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