Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mahrenholz v. County Board of School Trustees case brief

Mahrenholz v. County Board of School Trustees case brief summary
417 N.E.2d 138 (1981)

The plaintiff in this case appealed a circuit court of Illinois ruling on an action to quiet property title that was deeded to defendant pursuant to a fee simple.
The action was dismissed, and it was held that a fee simple conditional existed in the property and the plaintiff had not acquired an interest in school property

The grantor's decedent had conveyed a property interest to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff sought to quiet title.
The defendant grantee opposed the action.
He alleged as grantor, he had never reentered property, he did not own property, and therefore could not convey interest.
The property deed conveyed a defeasible fee simple to the grantee and created a future interest in the grantors.

  • The Court held that resolution of the matter depended on the construction of deed's language.
  • If the grantor had only a naked right of reentry for a condition broken, then he could not own the property until he had legally re-entered the land, but if a possibility of reverter existed, then the grantor owned the property as soon as it ceased to be used for deed's purpose. 
  • The word "only" contained in granting clause established that the grantor intended to create fee simple determinable instead of a fee simple subject to condition. 
  • The plaintiff was entitled to pursue his claim.

The court reversed and remanded lower court's decision, holding inclusion of the word "only" in the granting clause of the fee simple in the deed created a fee simple determinable.
Therefore, the plaintiff was entitled to pursue claim for quiet title even though the grantor's inheritor had not reentered property.

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