Monday, January 6, 2014

McIntyre v. Scarbrough case brief

McIntyre v. Scarbrough case brief summary
471 S.E. 2d 199 (1996)

The defendant seller sought review of an order from the Hall Superior (trial) Court (Georgia), which granted the plaintiff buyers summary judgment in an action to establish title and to terminate a life estate.

The buyers purchased a tract of land by warranty deed, with reservation of a life estate in the seller in 1.2 acres that included a mobile home, porch, and shed. The buyers filed a lawsuit to establish title and to terminate the life estate. The buyers filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the seller ceased occupying the tract as a personal residence in violation of the warranty deed, and that the seller committed waste by failing to maintain the property and the improvements on the property. After initially denying summary judgment to the buyers, the trial court reversed its ruling on motion for reconsideration.

The trial court held that the evidence conclusively established that the life tenant failed to exercise ordinary care for the preservation of the property, so she (the life tenant) had forfeited her interest to the buyers (remaindermen) and they were entitled to immediate possession. (affirmed)

  • On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's order. 
  • The trial court correctly determined that the buyers were entitled to judgment as a matter of law under their alternative theory of recovery, that the life estate was extinguished under the doctrine of waste.
A life tenant is entitled to the full use and enjoyment of the property if in such use he or she exercises the ordinary care of a prudent person for its preservation and protection and commits no acts which would permanently injure the remainder interest.

The court affirmed the order of the trial court that granted the buyers summary judgment in an action filed against the seller to establish title and to terminate the life estate.

See McIntyre v. Scarbrough (full case) on Google Scholar

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