This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Gopher Smelting and
Re: Parcels 4, 4A and 4B, Map 273.
Filed August 29, 2006
Dakota County District Court
File No. C0-04-6368
James C. Backstrom,
Robert C. Bell, Jensen, Bell, Converse & Erickson, P.A., 1500 Wells Fargo Place, 30 East Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this appeal from summary judgment, appellant argues that the district court erred by declining to reform a quitclaim deed. Because appellant failed to provide the clear and consistent, unequivocal and convincing evidence necessary for reformation of a deed, we affirm.
In January 2004, respondent
In February 2005, Stoerzinger moved for partial summary judgment, requesting that the district court conclude that Stoerzinger should be the sole recipient of compensation from the county for the taking of Outlot B. In March 2005, the county, to which the city had conveyed Outlot B, also moved for partial summary judgment, requesting that the district court determine that the county was entitled to Outlot B, free and clear of any encumbrances.
The relevant facts are not disputed by the parties: In October 1980, Richard and Mary Ann Parranto sold a parcel of real property to Stoerzinger and his wife, who is not a party in this action. The purchase agreement provided that “[s]eller shall furnish quit claim deed to Outlot B to assure reversionary rights to this land in the event the City of Inver Grove Heights does not use it for roadway purposes.” The Parrantos then executed a quitclaim deed to Stoerzinger and his wife that conveyed “[t]he reversionary interest if any in Outlot B.” The deed was dated and notarized in November 1980 and recorded in March 2004. The Parrantos also executed a quitclaim deed to the city for Outlot B that was dated January 1979; notarized in June 1985; and recorded with the county recorder in May 1988. This deed to the city imposed no conditions on the use of Outlot B.
Stoerzinger argued in support of his summary-judgment motion that the Parrantos intended that, in the event that the city did not use Outlot B for a road, the city would be divested of its interest in the property, which would trigger the Stoerzingers’ reversionary interest. Stoerzinger requested in his motion that the district court reform the Parrantos’ quitclaim deed to the city for Outlot B to express this intent. In a supporting affidavit, Richard Parranto stated that it “was the intention of all parties and explained to the City Council of Inver Grove Heights when the City approved the plat” that “Outlot B was created to provide a right of way for a public road” and that “in the event it would never be used as a public road it would revert to the owner of Lot 4, Block 2, South Delaware Estates,” which is one of the parcels now owned by Stoerzinger.
The county argued in support of its summary-judgment motion that (1) the city’s deed to Outlot B “did not make the City’s title a defeasible estate,” (2) the deed to the Stoerzingers from the Parrantos conveyed a reversionary interest only if there was such an interest, and (3) there was no reversionary interest to convey. The county also argued that, to the extent there was a reversionary interest in Outlot B for the Parrantos to convey to the Stoerzingers, under Minn. Stat. § 507.34 (2004), the city had superior title because it recorded its deed in 1988, long before the Stoerzingers recorded their deed in 2004, and that Stoerzinger has no equitable claim of title to Outlot B based on adverse possession or abandonment.
In May 2005, the district court ordered summary judgment for the county, concluding (1) that the city’s “deed contains no language to suggest that its interest was defeasible in any way”; therefore, the city was the fee owner of Outlot B and the county is the current fee owner of Outlot B; (2) that because the city recorded its deed before the Stoerzingers recorded their deed, the city has “a priority of interest” to Outlot B; and (3) that even if the Stoerzingers had a reversionary interest, “[t]he condition upon which the property was to revert . . . can no longer be met, because the land is being used to build a public road.” This appeal follows.
appeal from summary judgment, this court makes two determinations: (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, 4 (
Stoerzinger does not dispute that there is nothing in the quitclaim deed to the city for Outlot B that makes the city’s interest defeasible, and, therefore, the deed conveys Outlot B to the city in fee simple. Instead, Stoerzinger argues that, by mutual mistake, the quitclaim deed fails to express the real intention of the Parrantos and the city that Outlot B be used by the city for a road or else revert to the owner of one of the parcels that Stoerzinger now owns. Stoerzinger argues that the district court erred by not reforming the quitclaim deed to the city to include language that would reflect these intentions.
A district court may reform a written instrument if the party requesting the reformation proves with “clear and consistent, unequivocal and convincing” evidence the following:
(1) there was a valid agreement between the parties expressing their real intentions; (2) the written instrument failed to express the real intentions of the parties; and (3) this failure was due to a mutual mistake of the parties, or a unilateral mistake accompanied by fraud or inequitable conduct by the other party.
Nichols v. Shelard Nat’l Bank, 294
N.W.2d 730, 734 (
evidence that the city and the Parrantos actually intended Outlot B to be used by
the city for a road or else revert to Stoerzinger, Stoerzinger relies on a
provision in his purchase agreement with the Parrantos that states that the
Parrantos would “furnish [to the Stoerzingers a] quit claim deed to Outlot B to
assure reversionary rights to this land in the event the City of Inver Grove
Heights does not use it for roadway purposes.”
Because the city was not a party to the Stoerzingers’ purchase
agreement, the agreement cannot be clear and consistent, unequivocal and
convincing evidence of the city’s intentions when it received a quitclaim deed to
Outlot B. And because the Parrantos’ deeds
to the city and to the Stoerzingers for Outlot B were executed after the
purchase agreement, the deeds, and not the purchase agreement, are the last
expression of the Parrantos’ agreement to convey real property to the
Stoerzingers and to the city. See Whitney v. Smith, 33
Stoerzinger also relies on the statement in Richard Parranto’s affidavit that it was explained to the city when the plat was filed that Outlot B was to be used for a road. But as the district court found, Parranto describes the trigger for the reversionary interest to be the failure to use Outlot B for a “public road”; Parranto makes no distinction between a road built by the city and a road built by the county. Parranto’s affidavit is not clear and consistent, unequivocal and convincing evidence of the city’s intentions when it received a quitclaim deed for Outlot B from the Parrantos. At most, Parranto’s affidavit is evidence that the Parrantos unilaterally were mistaken regarding the terms of their conveyance of Outlot B to the city and that the Parrantos intended that the city’s interest in Outlot B would be divested if it were not used for a “public road,” regardless of what government entity builds the road. Such a unilateral mistake is an insufficient basis for reformation of the deed to the city absent evidence of fraud, and Stoerzinger has not claimed any fraud by the city.
Because Stoerzinger did not provide the evidence necessary to reform a written instrument, we affirm the district court’s denial of Stoerzinger’s request for reformation of the Parrantos’ quitclaim deed to the city for Outlot B. And because the city’s quitclaim deed conveys Outlot B to it in fee simple, Stoerzinger has no reversionary interest and, therefore, has no right to be compensated for the taking of Outlot B. Because we affirm the district court on this ground, we decline to review the district court’s alternative grounds for granting summary judgment to the county.