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Buic v. Buic

Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three.

May 1, 1992, Decided

No. G011098

Opinion

 [*1602]  [**739]   Joannes Buic appeals from an order granting summary judgment to Beatriz Buic in his constructive trust and fraud action. He contends there was a triable issue of material fact and summary judgment  [**740]  was improper. We agree and reverse.

Joannes Buic was married to Beatriz Buic prior to 1981. They owned a residence located on West Avenue in Fullerton. In 1981 Joannes executed a quitclaim deed conveying his interest in the West Avenue property to Beatriz. In 1982 Beatriz petitioned for dissolution of the marriage. The August 1982 judgment of dissolution awarded the West Avenue property to Joannes as his separate property. An apartment building which the couple owned was awarded to Beatriz as her separate property.

Following the dissolution judgment, Beatriz remained in the West Avenue property. No documents were executed or recorded showing legal title to be in Joannes. During [***2]  the subsequent years that Beatriz resided in the property, she paid all mortgage and property taxes. In 1989, Joannes discovered that Beatriz had listed the West Avenue property for sale and filed suit. 1 

Beatriz's evidence on summary judgment was that following entry of the court order awarding Joannes the house, she called him and told him she  [*1603]  would move out at the end of August 1982 and asked him to have title transferred to his name so she would not be responsible for the mortgage payments. At that time, record title, the mortgage and the  [***3]  tax bills were all in her name only. Joannes told her he did not want anything to do with the house. While he came to the house occasionally until 1984 to see their daughter, after that time she did not see him again. In 1982 or 1983 she told Joannes he had to either take the house or repair it because she could not live in it as it was. He said, "I give you the property before." She then refinanced the house for about $ 137,000. She paid off the original loan of around $ 37,000, and spent $ 37,000 improving the property. There is no evidence regarding the use of the remainder of the loan proceeds. In October 1989 she listed the house for sale.

Joannes's evidence was that he believed his attorney had caused title to the property to be transferred into his name. He admitted that from 1982 on he never paid the mortgage, asked for rent, or maintained the property, but contended that this was pursuant to his agreement with Beatriz. He testified that after the divorce, Beatriz complained that she could not afford to rent an apartment. As a favor to her, and because the couple's minor daughter was living with Beatriz, Joannes told Beatriz she could continue to live in the West Avenue [***4]  house. He had agreed to allow Beatriz to stay in the house and agreed she would pay the mortgage and taxes in lieu of rent. Beatriz had never told him she believed the property to be her own.

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5 Cal. App. 4th 1600 *; 7 Cal. Rptr. 2d 738 **; 1992 Cal. App. LEXIS 581 ***; 92 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3817; 92 Daily Journal DAR 5857

JOANNES BUIC, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. BEATRIZ BUIC, Defendant and Respondent.

Prior History:  [***1]  Superior Court of Orange County, No. 622710, James P. Gray, Judge.

Disposition: The judgment is reversed.

CORE TERMS

dissolution judgment, adverse possession, mortgage, rights, claimant, color of title, true owner, possessor, convey

Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Trusts, Constructive Trusts, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Real Property Law, General Overview, Adverse Possession, Title Quality, Adverse Claim Actions, Ejectment, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Materiality of Facts, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Elements of Adverse Claims, Torts, General Premises Liability, Dangerous Conditions, Family Law, Dissolution & Divorce, Property Distribution