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Mahrenholz v. Cty. Bd. of Sch. Trs - 125 Ill. App. 3d 619, 80 Ill. Dec. 870, 466 N.E.2d 322 (1984)

Rule:

Generally, as a prerequisite to maintaining a suit to quiet title, it must be shown that the land in controversy was either in the possession of the plaintiffs or unoccupied when the action started.

Facts:

Plaintiff purchasers filed an action to quiet title to real property previously deeded to the grantee for "school purposes" in 1974. The heir of the grantors conveyed to the purchasers all of his interest in the school property, disclaiming and releasing any possibility of reverter, right of entry for condition broken, or similar interest, in favor of the grantee. This is the second time the case has been before the appellate court. On the first occasion, plaintiffs, Herbert L. and Betty Mahrenholz, appealed from a judgment against them on the pleadings and in favor of defendants, County Board of School Trustees of Lawrence County and Board of Education, Community Unit School District Number 20, Lawrence and Crawford Counties. The court reversed and remanded. On remand, the circuit court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, and plaintiffs appeal. Defendants have filed no cross-appeal.The purchasers argued that the property should revert to the heir because the grantee was using it for storage, not classes.

Issue:

Is there a valid justification to grant a reverter of the property on the ground that it is no longer being used for school purposes?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court held that the term "school purpose" did not require the actual holding of classes. Rather, it agreed with the trial court that some alternate use was permissible that would still be within the realm of "school purpose" as that term was used in the deed. However, the court found that it was impossible to ascertain whether the grantee's use constituted use for school purposes in view of the conflicts in the affidavits and depositions of record. The conflicts raised a genuine issue of material fact upon the issue of whether the school property was being used for "school purpose," which prevented disposition of the cause by summary judgment. The court reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the grantee in the purchasers' action to quiet title to real property previously deeded to the grantee for "school purposes," and remanded.

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