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Kroner Investments, LLC v. Dann

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

August 13, 2019

KRONER INVESTMENTS, LLC, Respondent,
v.
DONNA B. DANN, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable David L. Dowd

          Philip M. Hess, Presiding Judge.

         Introduction

         Donna Dann ("Dann") appeals from summary judgment entered December 5, 2018 in favor of Kroner Investments, LLC ("Kroner Investments") on its petition for declaratory judgment and quiet title and on Dann's counterclaim petition for judicial foreclosure. The action revolves around the parties' competing interests in real property previously owned by husband and wife, Christopher and Sharon Smith (collectively, "the Smiths"). The Trial Court found Dann's deed of trust from Christopher Smith void ab initio[1] because the Smiths held the property as tenants in entireties.

         In Point I, Dann argues the trial court erred in granting summary judgment when it permitted Kroner Investments to assert Sharon Smith's right under § 474.150.2 RSMo, [2] to assert a claim for marital fraud to invalidate Dann's Deed of Trust from Christopher Smith. In Point II, Dann argues the trial court erred in granting summary judgment where she raised an affirmative defense of "laches." In Point III, Dann argues the trial court erred in granting Kroner Investments' motion for summary judgment on her claim for judicial foreclosure because she had a valid, unsatisfied deed of trust.

         Finding no error on the record before us, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Background

         The matter concerns two parcels of real estate in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, formerly owned by husband and wife, the Smiths. On March 6, 2016, Kroner Investments contracted in writing with the Smiths to purchase the real estate. The contract required payment of $2, 500 within (3) days of an acceptance deadline. By April 15, 2016, Kroner Investments had paid in full the $425, 000 purchase price for the land.

         On April 6, 2016, Dann recorded a Deed of Trust executed by and identifying Christopher Smith as grantor alone, purporting to secure his promise to pay an unpaid child support judgment to Dann in the amount of $59, 229.07 as due upon sale.

         Kroner Investments sued to quiet title on March 7, 2018. Dann filed a counter-claim for judicial foreclosure on April 17, 2018. Kroner moved for summary judgment on its Petition on May 8, 2018. Kroner Investments moved for summary judgment and to dismiss on Dann's counter-claim on May 16, 2018.

         The trial court granted Kroner Investments' Motion for Summary Judgment, finding the summary judgment record reflected the Smiths, as husband and wife, held the properties together as tenants in the entireties which made the deed of trust transfer to Dann by the husband invalid as a matter of law. Dann's counter-petition for judicial foreclosure of the property was similarly dismissed because, as a matter of law, an invalid deed of trust could not attach to the property, regardless of Christopher Smith's intent to offer it as security for his child support obligation.

         Standard of Review

         The standard of review on appeal regarding summary judgment is essentially de novo. Foster v. St. Louis County, 239 S.W.3d 599, 601 (Mo. banc 2007). Summary judgment will be upheld on appeal if there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. We review the record in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was sought. State ex rel. Mo. Highway & Transp. Comm'n v. Dierker, 961 S.W.2d 58, 60 (Mo. banc 1998). Facts set forth by affidavit or otherwise to support the motion are taken as true unless contradicted by the non-movant's response to the summary judgment motion. Id. The non-movant receives the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the record. Id. However, all facts must come into the summary judgment record as required by Rule 74.04(c)(1)[3]and (2), in separately numbered paragraphs or in response addressed to those numbered paragraphs. Holzhausen v. Bi-State Dev. Agency, 414 S.W.3d 488, 493 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013). A party confronted by a proper motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials in his or her pleadings, but in order to overcome the motion, the party must set forth specific facts supported by affidavits, discovery, or admissions on file showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. A non-movant who relies only upon mere doubt and speculation in its response to the motion for summary judgment raises no issue of material fact. Id.

         Point I - Summary Judgment Applying ...


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