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Sipes v. Sipes

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

January 31, 2017

MICHAEL SIPES, ET AL.
v.
TERRY SIPES, ET AL.

          Session Date: February 16, 2016

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Dyer County No. 13CV421 Tony Childress, Chancellor

         This appeal concerns a dispute between a father and his adult son over the transfer of real property. In 1997, the father constructed a house on a portion of his two-acre tract of land for his son. Several years later, the son agreed to purchase the house. Subsequently, a disagreement led the parties to discover identical errors in the legal descriptions in the warranty deed executed by the father transferring the property to the son and the deed of trust securing the son's purchase money loan. The trial court, upon its finding of mutual mistake, reformed the incorrect legal descriptions in the deeds, but the court also granted the father a right to use a shed and garden on the son's land. We affirm the trial court's reformation of the legal descriptions in the deeds. However, because we conclude that the evidence is less than clear and convincing that the parties intended the deeds to include the father's right of use, we reverse the trial court's decision to grant the interest.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed in Part and Reversed in Part.

          John W. Palmer and Julie W. Palmer, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Sipes.

          Edmund S. Sauer, and Bridget Brodbeck Parkes, Nashville, Tennessee for the appellee, Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC.

          No brief filed on behalf of the appellee, Terry Sipes.

          W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Arnold B. Goldin, J., joined.

          OPINION

          W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Terry Sipes[1] ("Father") owned a two-acre parcel of real property in Dyersburg, Tennessee. Although originally a single tax parcel, the property was eventually subdivided into three tax parcels: parcel 25, parcel 25.01, and parcel 25.02.

         Father constructed his own house on parcel 25.02, known as 579 Highway 210, in the property's northeastern corner. On parcel 25, the largest of the three tax parcels, Father built a storage shed and established a sizable "garden spot" where he grew potatoes and onions. The shed-occasionally referred to by the parties as a barn or "shop"-had electrical service, and Father used it to perform maintenance work on his tractor and lawnmowers and to store hunting decoys.

         In 1997, Father took out a loan to build a house on a portion of parcel 25 for his son, Michael Sipes ("Son"). The construction loan was secured by a deed of trust executed by Father in favor of Union Planters Bank. Notably, the deed of trust described the entirety of tax parcel 25 as security for the loan. Specifically, the deed included the following property description:

BEGINNING at a point in the centerline of Peach Street and Circle Drive; runs thence North 28 degrees 48' east to a set iron pin in the east line of Peach Street right-of-way; runs thence South 51 degrees 54" east 149.98 feet to a set iron pin; runs thence North 38 degrees 05' 203.34 feet to a set iron pin; runs thence East 90' more or less to a point in the original east line of the Terry C. Sipes lot, E.R. Hendrix west line; runs thence Southerly along said east line approximately 250 feet to a point the southeast corner of this lot; thence west along the south line of the Terry C. Sipes original lot to the point of beginning.

         The deed of trust was recorded on January 14, 2003, with the Dyer County Register of Deeds.

         Together, Father and Son built the house on the property's southeastern corner, with the address of 180 Circle Drive. Upon its completion, the house stood approximately 15 feet to the shed's east edge and several feet south of the garden spot. For a period of time, Father made payments ...


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