Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Re Collins & Flowers (Cal. Ct. App. - May 10, 2012)

This is obviously going to be a nightmare to resolve:

In 1993, Karen Brockmann deeded the house to Vicky Craig and James Powe, and about a month later they deeded the property to "Elijah Flowers, an unmarried man and, [¶] Joseph J. Flowers, an unmarried man as tenant and [¶] Karen Brockmann, an unmarried woman as tenant." The next day, Brockmann gave her interest to Elijah "an unmarried man" and Joseph "an unmarried man as tenant."

In 1995, Joseph and Tamara Flowers (Elijah‟s wife) signed quitclaim deeds to "Eligah [sic] Flowers, a married man, and Agustus [
sic] Collins, an unmarried man" and those deeds were later recorded.
In 1996, a deed of trust was recorded in favor of a federal court, covering the instant property, from "Eligah [sic] Flowers and Agustus [sic] Collins," and two other properties from "Eligah" and Tamara Flowers.

Andre testified that after Elijah died in 1997, no probate was opened because the family assumed the house belonged to Augustus, and that when Augustus died in 2003, "I don‟t know what his estate did." Before Augustus died, he became unable to care for the house and Andre discussed acquiring it from him. In his deposition, Andre conceded he realized that the failure to probate Elijah‟s estate earlier complicated matters.

A forged grant deed recorded on May 3, 2004, purported to transfer the house from "Agustus [sic] Collins, unmarried man, and Elijha [sic] Flowers unmarried man" to McIntyre.

Andre testified he had never heard of McIntyre until he received a utility bill or tax statement with her name. On June 23, 2004, not long after McIntyre‟s deed was recorded, Andre recorded a verified mechanic‟s lien on the property, for $75,000. The lien was defective because Andre did not have a contractor‟s license and had not served a preliminary notice of lien, despite his false declaration to the contrary. Further, Andre listed only Augustus as the owner--omitting Elijah--and failed to mention that both owners had already died.

On August 16, 2004, Andre and Hennessy Flowers (Andre‟s half brother), represented by attorney Robert Enos, filed a complaint to quiet title in them,
in part alleging the deed to McIntyre was forged. Andre verified the complaint. On November 17, 2005, the case was dismissed by a minute order stating "Attorney of record/party failed to appear[.]" Andre states he failed to appear due to his incarceration but there is no explanation why Hennessy did not appear, although Hennessy had been named as a coplaintiff "just in case anything was to happen to" Andre.

Andre denied that he rented the house to the Bovets and testified a rental agreement dated August 1, 2006, bore his forged signature. The agreement called for a $1,400 deposit and monthly rent of $1,200. However, the trial court found Andre did sign that agreement.

A deed from McIntyre to defendant Dancy was recorded on September 21, 2006. Andre testified he had never heard of Dancy until Dancy requested access to the house for a loan appraisal. Dancy gained entry with the aid of the police, and then tried to evict Andre.3 The house was later damaged by fire.

Andre did not seek appointment as administrator until after Wachovia loaned Dancy over $175,000 in January 2007. Andre claims he first learned the loan went through when he saw a June 25, 2007 filing in Dancy's eviction action, and "took swift action" by filing the instant probate petition on July 13, 2007."

You couldn't screw things up more royally if you tried.

The opinion is all about unclean hands, and applies it neatly.  Check it out.  It's a case where equity actually makes sense rather than simply confusing things.