Argiris v. Estate of Anders, 011321 AKSC, S-17565

Docket NºS-17565
Party NameCHRISTOS ARGIRIS, Appellant, v. ESTATE OF KENNETH H. ANDERS SR., SCOTT M. ANDERS, KENNETH ANDERS JR., KATHLEEN ANDERS, and ANY PERSON Claiming an Interest in the Estate of KENNETH H. ANDERS SR., Appellees.
AttorneyChristos Argiris, pro se, Moose Pass, Appellant.
Judge PanelBefore: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, and Carney, Justices.
Case DateJanuary 13, 2021
CourtSupreme Court of Alaska

CHRISTOS ARGIRIS, Appellant,

v.

ESTATE OF KENNETH H. ANDERS SR., SCOTT M. ANDERS, KENNETH ANDERS JR., KATHLEEN ANDERS, and ANY PERSON Claiming an Interest in the Estate of KENNETH H. ANDERS SR., Appellees.

No. S-17565

Supreme Court of Alaska

January 13, 2021

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska No. 3AN-18-04565 CI, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Jennifer Henderson, Judge.

Christos Argiris, pro se, Moose Pass, Appellant.

No appearance by Appellees.

Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, and Carney, Justices.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT [*]

I. INTRODUCTION

A quiet title claimant requested a trial continuance following a serious car accident. The superior court granted the continuance, stating that it would send the parties written notice confirming the new date. The court then failed to provide written notice of the rescheduled trial date, and the claimant failed to appear at the scheduled trial. The court ruled against the claimant. The claimant sought reconsideration, arguing that the court's failure to issue a written notice of the new trial date was an abuse of discretion and violated his due process rights. The court denied reconsideration. The claimant appeals. Because we agree that it was an abuse of discretion to not serve written notice of the new trial date on the claimant, we vacate the superior court's decisions and remand for a new trial.

II. BACKGROUND

In January 2007 Christos Argiris and Kenneth Anders obtained title to real property as equal co-tenants, giving the seller a promissory note secured by a deed of trust for the balance of the purchase price. The alleged nature and performance of the agreement between Argiris and Anders gave rise to the underlying quiet title action by Argiris.

Anders died in June 2007. In February 2018 Argiris hired an attorney to file a quiet title action to declare Argiris the sole owner of the property, subject to the seller's deed of trust. The complaint named Anders's estate and three children as defendants.1 Argiris alleged that he had borrowed money from Anders to purchase the property in 2007 and that Anders was listed on the property deed to secure payment of the loan. Argiris alleged that he and Anders had an agreement that Anders would convey his interest in the property to Argiris when Argiris repaid the loan. Argiris further alleged that before Anders died Argiris had repaid the loan but that Anders had not conveyed his property interest to Argiris. Argiris argued that because he had control of the property, had paid all mortgage payments and property taxes, had performed all repairs on the property, and reported all of the property-related transactions on his personal federal income tax returns since Anders's death, Anders's estate and children had no interest in the property.

Kenneth and his sister, representing themselves, filed letter-style answers asserting that Anders had supplied all of the money for the down payment on the property purchase and in return received a half-interest in the property as a full partner owner. They asserted that Kenneth had been the estate's personal representative and was familiar with Anders's finances, and that there was no documentary evidence showing that Argiris had purchased Anders's interest in the property.

The court held a status hearing in February 2019 and scheduled trial for June 13. Kenneth moved for summary judgment in early June. He argued that his father "provided all funds for the initial purchase of [the] subject property. There are no financial records showing [that Argiris] bought the Estate's interest in the property." Kenneth attached statements from his father's bank accounts indicating that payment was never received.

Both parties appeared for the scheduled trial date of June 13. Argiris explained that he had recently been in a "bad car wreck." He told the court that he was "totally unprepared" to proceed with trial due to the accident as well as his attorney's recent withdrawal. Argiris asked the court to continue the trial date and requested more time to respond to Kenneth's summary judgment motion.

The court set June 28 as the deadline for Argiris's response to the summary judgment motion and stated that it would provide a copy of the motion to Argiris. In response to Argiris's comment that he did not need to write the new date down because the court was sending a copy of the motion, the court confirmed it would provide a copy and again told him, "You have until June 28th, okay?"

The court next granted Argiris's requested continuance and scheduled trial for August 7, after confirming that the date would provide him sufficient time to prepare. The court then stated, "We're going to send out a paper [notice] that says that as well so that you each have that in writing." The hearing ended without further discussion of scheduling.

On June 27 Argiris filed his opposition to summary judgment with affidavits from two individuals who said they had witnessed his payments to Anders. Argiris also provided a receipt that he said Anders signed for "$3, 9OO cash" for "[f]inal payment of personal loan for property purchase." Argiris reiterated that he "paid all the taxes, insurance, and repairs and property maintenance . . . totaling well over an estimated $434, 980.00." Argiris argued that Kenneth "would have NO...

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