This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed June 27, 2006
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C7-04-200074
Patrick J. Sweeney, Sweeney, Borer & Sweeney, Blacktern Professional Building, 3250 Rice Street, St. Paul, MN 55126 (for appellant)
Scott D. Eller, Edward P. Sheu, Best & Flanagan LLP, 225 South 6th Street, Suite 4000, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant challenges the district court’s grant of respondent’s motion for summary judgment. Appellant asserts that there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether appellant gave respondent a trust interest in 1993, following their mother’s death. Appellant argues that the district court erroneously applied the law when determining that respondent did not act fraudulently in order to obtain the quitclaim of appellant’s rights to the trust. Finally, appellant claims that the district court improperly engaged in fact-finding at the summary-judgment stage of the proceedings. Because there are no genuine issues of material fact, the district court did not err in applying the law, and the district court did not improperly make factual findings, we affirm.
Appellant Marjory McPartlin’s father died in 1989, leaving to appellant’s mother, among other things, his one-quarter interest in the McPartlin Wyoming Land Trust (trust). Upon appellant’s mother’s death in 1993, appellant served as her mother’s personal representative and distributed her mother’s estate pursuant to her will. The will stated that appellant was to receive two-thirds of the estate while respondent Thomas McPartlin, appellant’s brother, was to receive one-third.
In 1993, appellant distributed her mother’s estate; in 1994, both appellant and respondent signed acknowledgments that they had each received their share of their mother’s estate. Because appellant believed that the trust interest was worthless, she did not include it as an asset of the estate—as she also did not include other items of personal property as assets. Appellant let respondent handle the trust interest and had nothing to do with it. Respondent has managed the trust interest since 1993, paying any associated administrative costs and required taxes; in 1998, respondent began receiving distributions from the trust.
In 2002, respondent drew up a document that appellant signed, which memorialized the distribution of the trust interest to respondent in the course of the probate of the estate. Appellant did not know, at that time, that the trust was generating money, and she did not ask respondent or anyone else about the trust or its value prior to signing the quitclaim deed. When appellant learned in 2004 that the trust was becoming more lucrative, she moved the district court to reopen her mother’s estate and redistribute the trust interest between herself and respondent according to the terms of her mother’s will.
Both parties were deposed, and respondent moved for summary judgment, submitting affidavits and deposition testimony in support of his motion. Appellant submitted a memorandum and deposition testimony in opposition to the motion. The district court granted respondent’s motion for summary judgment and denied appellant’s motion to reopen her mother’s estate. This appeal follows.
an appeal from summary judgment, we ask two questions: (1) whether there are
any genuine issues of material fact and (2) whether the [district] court
erred in [its] application of the law.” State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W.2d 2,
[T]here is no genuine issue of material fact for trial when the nonmoving party presents evidence which merely creates a metaphysical doubt as to a factual issue and which is not sufficiently probative with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party’s case to permit reasonable persons to draw different conclusions.
Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 71 (
Appellant contends that the district court erred by concluding that there were no genuine issues of material fact, by misapplying the law, and by improperly engaging in fact-finding during summary judgment.
A. Genuine issues of material fact
Appellant contends that the district court erred by concluding that there were no genuine issues of material fact. Appellant asserts that she did not give respondent the trust interest in 1993, thereby defeating the argument that the quitclaim merely memorialized that occurrence. But she acknowledges that respondent has been “taking care of the Trust” since 1993. Appellant testified during her deposition that she wanted nothing to do with the trust interest from the time of her mother’s death until 2004 because she believed that it was worthless.
It is undisputed that both appellant and respondent signed acknowledgements in 1994, stating that they had each received their entire interest in their mother’s estate. At the same time, appellant knew that respondent was managing the trust interest. Appellant never spoke with respondent about the trust or ever asserted a right or interest in it.
While the parties now dispute the significance of the quitclaim deed, it is undisputed that appellant signed the quitclaim, which states that the trust interest “was given to [respondent] . . . in the estate of our mother . . . and any right or claim I may have in this property, I quit and assign to [respondent].”
It is not essential to the disposition of this case to decide whether or not appellant gave respondent the trust interest in 1993. Because, as the district court found, even if the facts that appellant alleges are true—that she did not give respondent the trust interest in 1993—for reasons analyzed below, respondent is still entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
B. Application of the law
Appellant asserts that the district court misapplied the law in two ways: first, by not rescinding the quitclaim based on respondent’s alleged fraudulent conduct and, second, by determining that her claims are barred by the quitclaim.
contract procured by fraud is a voidable contract at the election of the
defrauded party. Hatch v. Kulick, 211
order to raise a claim of fraud, the facts supporting such claim must be
addition, “[f]raud is not presumed but must be affirmatively proved. One who alleges fraud has the burden of proof
and carries this burden throughout the trial.”
Appellant contends that respondent is not an innocent party because he concealed facts from her—namely, the value of the trust. But in reality, the fact that the trust was making money, and had been making money for nearly four years, was a fact that appellant could easily have learned by asking any number of people. The mere fact that respondent did not offer information regarding the trust’s value does not mean that he willfully or in bad faith withheld information from appellant. Thus, appellant could not carry her heavy burden to affirmatively prove fraud.
Appellant concedes that she did not ask respondent, or anyone else, about the trust at the time that she signed the quitclaim. Because appellant made no inquiries regarding the value of the trust prior to quitclaiming her rights, we conclude that the district court did not misapply the law.
claimed that she was intimidated by respondent and signed the quitclaim out of
fear and duress. But because she does
not raise that issue in her brief, it is deemed waived. State
v. Grecinger, 569 N.W.2d 189, 193 n.8 (
2. Validity of quitclaim
Appellant argues that the quitclaim does not bar this claim because the quitclaim deed was procured by fraud and because it was without consideration. But, as stated above, the district court correctly determined that appellant did not produce sufficient facts to establish that respondent fraudulently obtained the quitclaim deed. Because respondent did not act fraudulently, the only issue left is the issue regarding consideration.
“It is not
essential that there even be consideration to support a quitclaim deed.” Lidstrom
v. Mundahl, 310
The district court found that appellant received a benefit by having respondent manage the trust interest because she believed that the trust was worthless and did not want to be burdened by the responsibilities of leasing the land, paying the taxes, and so on. Thus, appellant was relieved of the responsibility of numerous duties, which is valid consideration. So, although a quitclaim is not required to be supported by consideration, this quitclaim was supported by consideration. Therefore, appellant’s contention that the quitclaim is void for lack of consideration is without merit.
Consequently, because appellant did not make a reasonable investigation or inquiry regarding the value of the trust, respondent did not act fraudulently in inducing appellant to sign the quitclaim, and because a quitclaim is not a contract requiring consideration, the district court did not misapply the law.
Finally, appellant contends that the district court erroneously engaged in fact-finding at the summary-judgment stage of the proceedings. She alleges that the district court improperly found that she gave the trust interest to respondent in 1993 and that respondent did not act fraudulently. Those were not improper findings of fact because it is undisputed that in 1993, appellant allowed respondent to take control of the trust interest, and in 1994, she signed an acknowledgement that she had received her entire share of her mother’s estate. Thus, it is undisputed that in 1993 the trust interest belonged to respondent.
In addition, the district court found, as a matter of law, that respondent did not act fraudulently in acquiring the quitclaim because appellant had a duty to make a reasonable investigation of the facts surrounding the trust. Thus, the district court did not engage in improper fact-finding during summary judgment.