Law School Case Brief
King v. Bankerd - 303 Md. 98, 492 A.2d 608 (1985)
Under Md. R. Civ. P., Cir. Ct. 2-501, when the pleadings, depositions, admissions on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, then the judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith. A material fact is a fact the resolution of which will somehow affect the outcome of the case. Consequently, a dispute over a non-material fact will not preclude summary judgment.
Plaintiff Howard R. Bankerd and his wife, Virginia, owned, as tenants by the entirety, a home in Montgomery County, Maryland. They resided there until 1966 when Mrs. Bankerd moved out as a result of marital problems. Mr. Bankerd continued to live at the property until July 1968, after which Mrs. Bankerd resumed residency of the property. In 1975, Bankerd executed a power of attorney to defendant Arthur V. King, to convey, grant, bargain and/or sell the Montgomery County land. In 1977, Mrs. Bankerd, who had been residing at and maintaining the property since 1968, requested that King exercise the power of attorney and to transfer Mr. Bankerd's interest in the property to her. King attempted to contact Mr. Bankerd at his last known addresses, but after receiving no response, King conveyed Mr. Bankerd's interest in the property to Mrs. Bankerd by deed dated June 21, 1978. Mrs. Bankerd paid no consideration for the transfer and King received no compensation for the conveyance on behalf of Mr. Bankerd. Mrs. Bankerd thereafter sold the property to a third party for $ 62,500. In 1981, Mr. Bankerd filed suit against King in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County alleging breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty in King's conveyance of his interest in the property in violation of the power of attorney. After discovery, both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment to Mr. Bankerd. On King's appeal, the appellate court affirmed. King was granted a writ of certiorari.
Could a power of attorney authorizing the agent to "convey, grant, bargain and/or sell" the principal's property authorize the agent to make a gratuitous transfer of that property?
The Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor Bankerd. In particular, the court held that because an agent must act for the benefit of his principal and because powers of attorney needed to be strictly construed, the language of the power of attorney at issue in this case did not authorize King to make a gift of Bankerd's property.
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