X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:This is an appeal from a suit to set aside certain transfers of real property and a motor home from Leroy Decker Sr. to his son, Jimmy Decker. On Jan. 12, 1996, Leroy executed a will that left his entire estate to his wife, Anna L. Decker, if she survived him by 30 days. If, however, Anna did not survive Leroy by 30 days, Leroy left his entire estate to his three children, Rhonda, Jimmy and Leroy Jr. After Leroy’s wife Anna died, Jimmy and Debra, Jimmy’s wife, moved in with Leroy in early 1999, to care for him after he had surgeries to remove a lung and to remove a brain tumor. In January 2000, Leroy executed a second will in which he left all of his property to his son, Jimmy alone, and executed a power of attorney appointing Jimmy as his attorney-in-fact. Additionally, Jan. 31, 2000, Leroy executed a warranty deed transferring his house and two farm properties to Jimmy. However, Leroy continued to live with Jimmy and Debra in the house after it was transferred to Jimmy. In January 2001, Leroy also transferred title to a motor home to Jimmy. On June 18, 2002, Jimmy died, and Leroy continued to live with Debra in the house until Oct. 7, 2002, when Debra drew up a notice of eviction informing Leroy that he could no longer live there. Debra also sold the motor home to Curtis Cooper, her uncle. On approximately Nov. 7, 2002, Cooper and Charles Tipps, Debra’s father, went onto one of the farm properties and removed the motor home. Leroy then sued Debra seeking to set aside the transfers of real property and the motor home. In regard to the transfers of real property, the jury found that 1. The transfers were not fair; 2. Leroy was unduly influenced; 3. Leroy lacked sufficient mind and memory at the time of the transfers; and 4. Jimmy and Debra did not substantially rely to their detriment on Leroy’s promise to convey the house. In regard to the motor home, the jury found that 1. The transfer was fair; 2. Leroy was unduly influenced; 3. Leroy lacked sufficient mind and memory at the time of the transfer; and 4. Cooper was not a good-faith purchaser of the motor home. The trial court disregarded the jury’s answer in regard to Cooper not being a good faith purchaser, because the jury charge instructed the jury that, if it found that the transfer of the motor home was fair, then it did not need to answer the question regarding Cooper. On Dec. 22, 2004, the trial court entered a judgment 1. voiding the real property deeds and quieting title in Leroy; 2. awarding Leroy court costs and attorney fees; and 3. disregarding the jury’s answer in regard to Cooper as being a good faith purchaser. Additionally, the trial court found that the power of attorney executed by Leroy created a fiduciary duty as a matter of law as to Jimmy. However, the judgment does not mention the disposition of the motor home. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court reviews the evidence, noting that Leroy was suffering from mental and physical problems at the time of the deed transfers. The court holds that the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, supports a determination that Leroy was unduly influenced and that he lacked the mental capacity to transfer title to the farm properties and the house to Jimmy at that time. Leroy claims that, because the jury found that the transfer of the motor home was the result of undue influence, the judgment should set aside the transfer of the motor home to Jimmy. After reviewing the evidence, the court determines that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that the transfer of the motor home was the result of undue influence. Cooper had the burden of proof to establish that he was a bona fide purchaser of the motor home, that he was a subsequent purchaser, who paid value, and that he had no notice of the dispute between Leroy and Debra. If a subsequent purchaser cannot show himself to be a bona fide purchaser, then he acquires only the rights that his grantor had. Hartel v. Dishman, 135 Tex. 600, 145 S.W.2d 865 (1940). The charge instructed the jury to only answer the bona fide purchaser question if it found that the transfer of the motor home from Leroy to Jimmy was not fair. However, the jury answered that the transfer was fair, and therefore, could not have answered the bona fide purchaser question. Accordingly, because Cooper failed to secure a finding that he was a bona fide purchaser of the motor home, he acquired only the rights that Debra, his grantor, had in regard to the motor home. The court holds that the trial court should have addressed the issue of title to the motor home. Because there is no bona fide purchaser finding and the jury found that Leroy was unduly influenced to transfer title to the motor home, the trial court should have quieted title to the motor home in Leroy, the court concludes. OPINION:Livingston, J.; Livingston, Gardner and Walker, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.