WALTER STOKELY, ET AL. v. JAMES STOKELY, ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Karen Belcher on Jan 19, 2018

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

E. Ronald Chesnut, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Charles Eason, Thomas Eason, Marsha Grayer, and Walter Stokely.

Attorneys 2:

Douglas L. Payne, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Anna Eason, James Stokely, and Mark Stokely.

Judge(s): SWINEY

This appeal arises from a family dispute over a life estate. Charles Eason, Thomas Eason, Marsha Grayer, and Walter Stokely (“Petitioners”) filed suit against their siblings Anna Eason, James Stokely, and Mark Stokely (“Respondents”) in the Chancery Court for Greene County (“the Trial Court”) seeking partition of their late mother’s home and property which they all had inherited but to which they had executed a quitclaim deed to sister Anna Eason to hold as life tenant. Respondents filed an answer asserting that Anna Eason was the life tenant and the land was not subject to partition. Respondents asserted the statute of limitations as a defense, as well. After a trial, the Trial Court dismissed Petitioners’ lawsuit. Petitioners’ appeal, arguing that Respondents waived the statute of limitations as a defense through abandonment and also that the Trial Court erred in not reforming the deed when the parties did not understand it would create a life estate for Anna Eason. We hold, inter alia, that Respondents properly pled the statute of limitations and could rely upon it. We hold further that Petitioners’ lack of knowledge regarding all the implications of a life estate is not, in itself, a basis for reforming the deed. We affirm the Trial Court.

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