817 P.2d 1268 (Okla. 1991), 72627, Furr v. Thomas

Docket Nº:72627.
Citation:817 P.2d 1268, 1991 OK 93
Party Name:Lester FURR; Sharon Furr; Henry L. Madden; Peggy J. Madden; Darlene Dodson; J.W. Dodson; Joseph S. Hale; Brenda J. Hale; Ernest J. Henson, Jr.; Charlotte Henson; Loyd Furr; Norma Furr; Jack Henson; Juanita Henson; Ray Henson; Modeen Henson; Robert M. Rudloff; Charlotte Rudloff; Ron Schaeffer; Linda Schaeffer, Ray Brannon; Henrietta Brannon; John A.
Case Date:September 24, 1991
Court:Supreme Court of Oklahoma
 
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Page 1268

817 P.2d 1268 (Okla. 1991)

1991 OK 93

Lester FURR; Sharon Furr; Henry L. Madden; Peggy J.

Madden; Darlene Dodson; J.W. Dodson; Joseph S. Hale;

Brenda J. Hale; Ernest J. Henson, Jr.; Charlotte Henson;

Loyd Furr; Norma Furr; Jack Henson; Juanita Henson; Ray

Henson; Modeen Henson; Robert M. Rudloff; Charlotte

Rudloff; Ron Schaeffer; Linda Schaeffer, Ray Brannon;

Henrietta Brannon; John A. Lindley; Sheryl Lindley; S.L.

Bowman; Roe Ann Welsh; Syble Bandy; Joe L. Muse; Peggy

A. Muse; and Jerry Stevenson, Appellants,

v.

Paul W. THOMAS and Billie M. Thomas, Individually and as

Trustees for Gaia Thomas Patterson; Paul W. Thomas, Jr.;

Tammara L. Thomas; William C. Thomas and John A. Thomas,

Beneficiaries and as individuals, Appellees.

No. 72627.

Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

September 24, 1991.

Page 1269

Certiorari from Court of Appeals, Division 4; D.C. Revard, District Judge, Pawnee County.

Certiorari granted to all appellee/defendants to review Court of Appeals' decision reversing in part and affirming in part. We hold the trial court correctly set aside the judgment against the developer's adult children for want of in personam jurisdiction. We affirm the judgments as rendered below against the father/developer and his wife.

CERTIORARI PREVIOUSLY GRANTED; COURT OF APPEALS' OPINION VACATED; TRIAL COURT AFFIRMED.

Curtis A. Parks, Michael J. Beard, Parks & Beard, Tulsa, for appellants and counter-appellees.

Donald L. Kahl, Kent L. Jones, Orval E. Jones, Hall, Estill, Hardwick, Gable, & Nelson, P.C., Tulsa, for appellees and counter-appellants.

SUMMERS, Justice:

Residential purchasers prevailed below as plaintiffs in their lawsuit for their seller/developers' failure to build a hard-surfaced road to their homes as promised. The jury awarded actual damages for breach of contract and punitive damages for fraud. After the Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part, the three principal issues presented here on certiorari are resolved thus: (1) The trial court was correct in setting aside the judgment as to the adult children of the developer for lack of in personam jurisdiction. (2) The judgment against the developer's wife for actual damages only is affirmed. (3) The judgment against the developer himself for actual and punitive damages, as modified by the trial court, is affirmed.

In 1974, a trust was established to hold certain real property for the benefit of the children of Paul and Billie Thomas. The parents were named as trustees. Over the next three years, Paul (Father or Developer) and Billie (Wife or Mother, and together with Paul, referred to as Sellers) then developed the land and sold it to the Plaintiffs (Purchasers). The sales contracts provided that within two years, the Sellers would construct a two mile all-weather smooth surface road to serve the development. The promised black-top road was never built, but Father did build a gravel road which he maintained until suit was filed.

The Purchasers filed suit approximately nine years after the sale, alleging breach of contract and fraud, seeking actual and punitive damages. It is uncontested that during the interval between the execution of the contract and the filing of suit, the trust expired and the children became the successors in interest to the contracts. Suit was filed against Father, Mother, and Children, both individually and in their respective capacities as trustees and beneficiaries.

Page 1270

The parties do not dispute that summons only issued to Father, and that he was the only defendant served with summons. Father met with an attorney who agreed to handle the case. Counsel entered an appearance for the "Defendant, Paul W. Thomas Allen, (sic)" reserving time to plead. Thereafter he filed an Answer, and then other pleadings, on behalf of the "Defendants." The Pretrial Conference Order shows his appearance for "the Defendants." The lawsuit proceeded...

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