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Posted by: Landry Butler on Nov 14, 2017

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Janice C. Sharp.

Attorneys 2:

Larry B. Watson, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Travis Breen and Caleb Breen.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

This appeal arises from an action for partition of undeveloped real property located in Stewart County, Tennessee. The property consists of three non-contiguous tracts and is owned by three people - two brothers and their aunt. The brothers (“Plaintiffs”) seek partition of all of the property by sale. Their aunt (“Defendant”) seeks partition in kind. Pursuant to an agreed order of reference, the trial court referred the case to a special master to determine the ownership interests of the parties, whether the property could be partitioned in kind, and whether there were any encumbrances. Prior to the completion of the master’s report, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The court delayed ruling on the motion until after the master’s report was completed. Thereafter, the special master filed a report in which he found that Defendant owned a one-half undivided interest, and each Plaintiff owned an undivided one-fourth interest. The master also concluded that the overall value of the property would be reduced if the property was partitioned in kind among the three parties. Defendant filed eight exceptions to the report. After reviewing the report and evidence presented at the master’s hearing, the trial court concurred with all but one of the master’s findings. As for that one issue, the court ordered a partial partition in kind of one tract, awarded that parcel to Defendant, and ordered her to pay $195,948 to Plaintiffs for the value of that parcel. The remaining property was to be sold with the proceeds divided according to the parties’ respective interests. The court also denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Defendant appeals, contending the trial court erred by (1) delaying its ruling on her summary judgment motion; (2) determining that Plaintiffs each owned an undivided one-fourth interest; (3) ruling that the entire property could not be partitioned in kind; and (4) valuing the parcel awarded to her in kind based on incompetent evidence. We affirm the trial court on all issues except for the value assigned to the parcel awarded to Defendant, and modify the judgment in that respect only.