Navy Federal Credit Union v. McCrea, 050416 GACA, A16A0332

Docket Nº:A16A0332
Opinion Judge:DILLARD, JUDGE.
Judge Panel:PHIPPS, P. J., DILLARD and PETERSON, JJ. Phipps, P.J., and Peterson, J., concur.
Case Date:May 04, 2016
Court:Court of Appeals of Georgia




No. A16A0332

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Fifth Division

May 4, 2016



In this interlocutory appeal, Navy Federal Credit Union ("NFCU") seeks reversal of the trial court's denial of its motion for reconsideration of the court's earlier denial of its motion for summary judgment in its declaratory-judgment action against Pearl McCrea involving a dispute over title to land.1 On appeal, NFCU argues that it was entitled to summary judgment because the undisputed evidence shows that it owns the subject property and that McCrea has no interest in it. NFCU further contends that McCrea presented no evidence to support any of her counterclaims. For the reasons set forth infra, we reverse the trial court's denial of summary judgment to NFCU.2

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to McCrea, the nonmoving party, 3 the record shows that on January 30, 2007, McCrea purchased the subject property, which is located in Ellenwood, Georgia (the "property"), and she obtained a warranty deed from the seller. On the same day, McCrea executed a "Joint Tenancy with Survivorship Warranty Deed, " conveying the property in fee simple to Gary and Vickie Fox. A few months later, in June 2007, the Foxes used the property to secure a loan from NFCU for $70, 000 and executed a security deed in favor of NFCU to that effect.

In 2011, McCrea filed suit against the Foxes for, inter alia, breach of contract, undue influence, and fraud (the "Foxes Case"), claiming that the Foxes fraudulently induced her to purchase the property and convey it to them in exchange for promises that they would take care of her and the property. McCrea alleged that the Foxes did not fulfill their promises, and she was unaware that they secured a loan with the property. In addition to damages, McCrea requested that the property be returned to her free and clear of any liens or encumbrances incurred by the Foxes. On April 25, 2011, McCrea also filed a notice of lis pendens regarding her dispute with the Foxes over the property. And although the Foxes Case had not yet been resolved, on January 25, 2012, McCrea executed a quitclaim deed purporting to transfer title to the property to Ellen Wood. Eventually, in August 2012, the Foxes Case proceeded to a jury trial, and the jury found in favor of McCrea, awarding her $88, 300 in damages. The trial court then issued an order, affirming the jury's verdict and awarding McCrea a total of $88, 575 in damages, interest, and costs.

Thereafter, on December 4, 2012, NFCU, which was not a party to the Foxes Case, sold the property in a foreclosure sale because the Foxes defaulted on their loan. Then, on June 26, 2013, NFCU filed this action against McCrea to quiet title to the property and to set aside her lis-pendens notice. McCrea filed an answer, asserting several affirmative defenses, as well as counterclaims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, unjust enrichment, and stubborn litigiousness. NFCU next filed an amended complaint, removing its quiet-title claim and adding a claim for declaratory relief. On December 3, 2013, McCrea filed a motion for summary judgment, and after responding to the motion, NFCU filed a second amended complaint, seeking only a declaratory judgment that it owns the property unencumbered by any claim of interest made by McCrea. In her response, McCrea added an additional counterclaim for the foreclosure sale to be declared void and set aside.

Subsequently, NFCU filed a competing motion for summary judgment, arguing that the outcome of the Foxes Case had no bearing on its ownership of the property and that McCrea's counterclaims, which were all derivative of her claimed interest in the property, lacked evidentiary support. Ultimately, the trial court denied summary judgment to both parties, noting only that there were "genuine issues of material fact, including, but not limited to, any notice that [NFCU] may have had of the particular legal encumbrances on [the] property." The order, however, did not mention McCrea's...

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