Conditions tending to destroy estates, such as conditions subsequent, are not favored in law. They are strictly construed. Accordingly, no provision will be interpreted to create such a condition if the language will bear any other reasonable interpretation, or unless the language, used unequivocally, indicates an intention upon the part of the grantor or devisor to that effect and plainly admits of such construction.
The Wood’s (husband and wife) appealed a grant of summary judgment. They had previously conveyed a warranty deed for land to the county for the construction of a hospital. They now allege that language in the deed created either (1) a fee simple determinable, or (2) a fee simple subject to condition subsequent with a right of reversion in the land. The trial court found that the Wood’s retained no interest in the land as a matter of law.
Did the appellants retain an interest in the land?
No, the court affirmed the lower court’s judgment.
The court held that the language of the deed did not clearly state that the estate conveyed will automatically expire if the land is not used for the state purpose. Thus, there was not a fee simple determinable estate present. Further, the language of the deed did not give the grantors discretionary power to terminate the grantee’s estate after the stated event. Thus, there was also no fee simple subject to condition subsequent present.