Alvey v. Alvey, 232

Decision Date18 May 1961
Docket NumberNo. 232,232
PartiesHowerton ALVEY v. R. Bradley ALVEY and Pauline Alvey, his wife.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

George B. Woelfel, Annapolis, for appellant.

Eugene M. Childs, Annapolis (Childs & Bald, Annapolis, on the brief), for appellees.

Before BRUNE, C. J., and PRESCOTT, HORNEY, MARBURY and SYBERT, JJ.

MARBURY, Judge.

The appellant appeals from a decree of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County sustaining a demurrer on behalf of the appellees to his bill of complaint to set aside deeds vesting title as tenants by the entireties in the appellees as to the lot agreed to be conveyed by the appellee R. Bradley Alvey to the appellant, and for specific performance by R. Bradley Alvey alone, without abatement in purchase price.

The bill in substance alleged that the appellant and R. Bradley Alvey are brothers; that on April 29, 1955, R. Bradley Alvey agreed in writing with the appellant to convey from his waterfront farm a lot of ground running from appellant's land to the waterfront, sketched on a memorandum, filed as an exhibit with the bill, for the sum of $2,750, and in accordance with the agreement the appellant paid R. Bradley Alvey $2,250, which left a balance of $500. That although the appellant frequently offered to pay the $500 balance and procure his deed, he was advised by R. Bradley Alvey to wait a little while longer until the property line dispute existing between him and one Raymond W. Michaels was concluded. That some time during the year 1958 R. Bradley Alvey told the appellant that he would not go through with the deal and advised the appellant to get the property the best way he knew how, stating that his wife, Pauline Alvey, would not sign and execute the deed, whereupon the appellant filed suit for specific performance against both appellees on the theory that Pauline Alvey was present throughout the time the appellant and R. Bradley Alvey were making the deal, that she collected the deposit, was pleased with the sale, and that she should be estopped to deny that her husband functioned as her agent. However, the trial court ruled that her actions were not sufficient for estoppel, that the Statute of Frauds prevailed, and her demurrer was sustained by that court and affirmed by the mandate from this Court on December 17 (1959) in Alvey v. Alvey, 220 Md. 571, 155 A.2d 491. That the appellant thereupon dismissed the suit against R. Bradley Alvey, who had filed an answer in the original proceedings, because the appellant had ascertained that on the 7th of November, 1957, the appellees had executed a deed to Emanuel Klawans conveying all his realty, including the lot of ground before mentioned, and that the said Klawans immediately reconveyed the property to the appellees as tenants by the entireties. That the deeds were without consideration and the transfer was fraudulent and made with the intent to hinder, delay, and deprive the appellant of his right to specific performance against R. Bradley Alvey, without any abatement, as Pauline Alvey, never having signed the contract, would still have her dower right in the property agreed to be sold.

The bill prayed: (1) that the deeds between the Alveys and Klawans be set aside so far as the lot of ground involved is concerned; (2) that specific performance be declared against R. Bradley Alvey without abatement of the purchase price; and (3) for further relief.

The appellees demurred to the bill and the chancellor in sustaining the demurrer stated no reason for so doing. The appellant did not request a written opinion as was his right under Maryland Rule 18c, consequently we have no way of knowing upon what ground or grounds he based his decision. The demurrer, however, raises four specific questions which were: (a) does the Statute of Limitations bar this action, (b) is the plaintiff guilty of laches, (c) is this cause res judicata, and (d) does the doctrine of election bar this action?

On this appeal the conclusive and only question which we deem it necessary to consider is the question of res judicata, and we will assume that that ground was at least one of the reasons for the sustaining of the demurrer. Referring to the bill of complaint in the instant suit, it will be seen that the appellant alleged fraud in the transaction of November 7, 1957, where the appellee husband conveyed his interest in the property in controversy to a 'straw man' who subsequently reconveyed the property to the appellees, husband and wife, as tenants by the entireties. This bill is based upon the exact same facts and subject matter adjudicated by this Court in the...

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