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Putney v. Sanford

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 23, 2019

ALLEN JOHN PUTNEY AND LINDA LOUISE PUTNEY APPELLANTS
v.
DANNY R. SANFORD APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/27/2017

          COVINGTON COUNTY CHANCERY, HON. DAVID SHOEMAKE JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: ROBERT WENDELL JAMES.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: COREY DANIEL GIBSON.

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., McDONALD AND C. WILSON, JJ.

          C. WILSON, J.

         ¶1. Danny R. Sanford filed a petition for declaratory judgment against Allen John Putney and Linda Louise Putney (the Putneys) in the Covington County Chancery Court.[1] In his complaint, Sanford requested an order from the chancery court declaring that title to two parcels of land be vested solely in his name. On June 27, 2017, the chancellor entered a judgment in favor of Sanford, denying the Putneys' motions to dismiss and counter-claims and determining that Sanford be vested with title to all of the real property requested.

         ¶2. Upon denial of their general motion for reconsideration, the Putneys filed a notice of appeal from the declaratory judgment and the order denying reconsideration. The Putneys raise the following issues: (1) whether Sanford's claim is barred for lack of privity of contract between Sanford and the Putneys; (2) whether Sanford failed to join a necessary party to the action; (3) whether Sanford's claim is barred by the doctrines of estoppel and/or laches; and (4) whether Sanford's petition for declaratory judgment failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶3. This case involves a dispute over whether the Putneys intended to convey two parcels of real property located in Covington County, Mississippi. The facts of this case are largely undisputed.

         ¶4. In November 2012, the Putneys transferred 196 acres to Carl Mann via warranty deed (the "Putney-Mann deed") and pursuant to a contract and agreement for the sale and purchase of real property (the "contract"). In June 2015, Mann transferred the same 196 acres to Sanford via warranty deed (the "Mann-Sanford deed"). Both deeds were prepared by attorney B. Scott Buffington.

         ¶5. Shortly after purchasing the property from Mann, Sanford became aware of an error in the land description contained in Tract 1 of the Putney-Mann deed. Buffington filed an affidavit of scrivener's error to correct the error in August 2015. In January 2016, Sanford filed his petition for declaratory judgment, requesting that title to the two disputed parcels of land be vested solely in his name. A trial on the matter was held on January 26, 2017, and on May 30, 2017.

         ¶6. At trial, Mann testified that he intended to buy the 196 acres that was described in the contract. Neither Mann nor the Putneys knew there was an error in the land description until after Sanford purchased the property and engaged Buffington to file the affidavit of scrivener's error to correct the Putney-Mann deed. Sanford testified that he intended to purchase the property described in the Mann-Sanford deed, which included the same 196 acres that was described in the contract that merged into the Putney-Mann deed. Mr. Putney testified that he did not intend to convey either parcel of land. Despite this, Mr. Putney testified that he signed both the contract and the Putney-Mann deed, and that the instruments were sworn and truthful. Mr. Putney also conceded on two separate occasions (on cross-examination and redirect) that he intended to sell to Mann 194 of the approximately 196 acres.[2]

         ¶7. In its June 27, 2017 declaratory judgment, the chancery court found by clear and convincing evidence that the Putney-Mann deed contained a mistake in the Tract 1 land description. The court also found that the affidavit of scrivener's error properly corrected the Putney-Mann deed to reflect the parties' intentions. And the court found that the Putneys intended to convey the property described in the Mann-Sanford deed-the entire 196 acres originally transferred by the Putneys to Mann and then by Mann to Sanford. The court thereafter dismissed both of the ...


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