Ingram v. Horn

Citation294 Ala. 353,317 So.2d 485
PartiesSuzanne D. INGRAM and Kay D. Foster, as Administrators, etc., et al. v. Annie Lou Dailey Hicks HORN. SC 1163.
Decision Date31 July 1975
CourtSupreme Court of Alabama

J. Garrison Thompson, Selma, for appellants.

James M. White, Centreville, for appellee.


Appellee brought suit against Suzanne D. Ingram and Kay D. Foster, individually, and in their administrative capacity, seeking to have a deed declared null and void. The Circuit Court of Bibb County, sitting without a jury, rendered a final judgment which set aside the deed in question and vested title in appellee. Appeal was then perfected to this Court by the administratrix and heirs of the deceased grantee.

On October 21, 1971, appellee executed a deed conveying to her brother, Harold Dailey, the fee simple title in and to a 260-acre tract of land, reserving in herself a life estate.

In her complaint appellee avers that she signed the deed under the mistaken belief that it conveyed title to a city lot in Centreville, Alabama. This belief, she avers, arose out of her reliance on the fraud and misrepresentations of her brother, Harold Dailey, the grantee and Sheriff of Bibb County, who, she avers, brought the deed to her home, informed her that it conveyed title to her lot in Centreville, and assured her that she need not read the deed since she already knew its contents. In reliance on her brother's alleged misrepresentations, appellee avers that she signed the deed without reading it, without knowledge of its actual contents, and without the intention of conveying title to the 260-acre tract. It is alleged that appellee did not learn of the actual contents of this deed until after the death of her brother. Shortly thereafter, on May 30, 1974, appellee brought suit against his administratrix, who also are his heirs, praying for a cancellation of the deed.

At trial, three theories were advanced upon which appellee asserted her right to the requested relief: (1) that there was a total failure of consideration for the execution of the deed; (2) that she signed the deed without knowledge of its contents and without the intention of conveying the land described therein; and (3) that the execution of the deed was procured through the fraud and misrepresentations of Harold Dailey.

The trial judge rendered judgment for appellee. He found, inter alia, that a deed is invalid without a 'meeting of the minds,' that the deed was not read by, or to, appellee, that she did not know she was conveying the land, and that she did not intend to convey the property described therein. On this appeal, appellants challenge not only the court's conclusions of law but also the sufficiency of the evidence to support the decree.

As to the first of appellee's theories, we agree with appellants that a deed may represent a gratuitous conveyance of realty, and that even a 'total failure of consideration' such as that alleged by appellee is insufficient grounds for the cancellation of an otherwise valid deed. As this Court has pointed out, 'A deed is valid and operative as between the parties and their privies, whether founded on a consideration or not.' Porter v. Roberson, 263 Ala. 294, 296, 82 So.2d 244, 245 (1955).

As the second of the theories upon which appellee sought the cancellation of the deed, it is alleged that appellee executed the instrument without knowledge of its contents and without the intention to convey.

When a grantor fails to read a deed (having the ability to read and understand it) and this results in his execution of an instrument which conveys realty, although he subsequently avers he did not intend to convey, the grantor's mistake will be attributed to his own negligence and the deed will be upheld so long as his signature was not induced by fraud or misrepresentation. Colburn v. Mid-State Homes, Inc., 289 Ala. 255, 266 So.2d 865 (1972).

Accordingly, if the deed in this case is to be set aside because of appellee's lack of intention to convey the property described therein, appellee must prove that she acted under the influence of fraud or misrepresentation. This Court has held...

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13 cases
  • Smith v. Walker, 2101054.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • March 2, 2012
    ...court cannot grant the relief by reason of uncertainty.’ Wooddy v. Matthews, 194 Ala. 390, 69 So. 607 (1915).”Ingram v. Horn, 294 Ala. 353, 355–56, 317 So.2d 485, 486 (1975). Discussing the same principle, our supreme court wrote in Cross v. Maxwell, 263 Ala. 509, 512, 83 So.2d 211, 214 (19......
  • Jackson v. Reed
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 30, 1983
    ...aside because of inadequate consideration or for no consideration at all. Taylor v. Godsey, 357 So.2d 979 (Ala.1978); Ingram v. Horn, 294 Ala. 353, 317 So.2d 485 (1975). Here, not only was there testimony that Reed received the amount of money stated in the mortgage, but also testimony that......
  • Johnson v. Keener
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 27, 1979
    ...influence and fraud: "The general rule is that fraud, when alleged, must be clearly and satisfactorily proven. Ingram v. Horn, supra (294 Ala. 353, 317 So.2d 485 (1975)). ' "If the proof is uncertain in any material respect, it will be held insufficient, though the court may feel that a gre......
  • Wren v. Wren
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • October 9, 1985
    ...will subsequently be estopped to deny that he lacked the requisite intent necessary to constitute a valid conveyance. Ingram v. Horn, 294 Ala. 353, 317 So.2d 485 (1975). Review of the record in the present case reveals that the husband was literate and possessed more than the necessary abil......
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