Quackenbush v. Quackenbush, 41.
|Supreme Court of Michigan
|9 N.W.2d 900,305 Mich. 704
|QUACKENBUSH v. QUACKENBUSH et al.
|07 June 1943
OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE
Suit by Glenn Quackenbush against Norman A. Quackenbush and another to enjoin defendants from further prosecution of summary proceedings to oust plaintiff from possession of realty and to compel defendants to convey such realty to plaintiff, wherein defendants filed a cross-bill. From an adverse decree, defendants appeal.
Appeal from Circuit Court, Kent County, in Chancery; Leonard D. Verdier, Judge.
Before the Entire Bench.
Pleasant I. Phillips, of Detroit, for appellants.
Thomas D. Anderson, of Rockford, for appellee.
Plaintiff is a son of the defendants and this case arises out of the failure of these parties to have a definite understanding as to their respective rights in a twenty-acre piece of real estate. As a result, plaintiff filed this bill in chancery seeking to enjoin the defendants from further prosecution of summary proceedings to oust plaintiff from possession; and to compel defendants to convey this property to plaintiff. The defendants filed a cross-bill claiming that plaintiff had failed to comply with the terms of a contract under which defendants were to convey said premises (incorrectly described in the contract) to plaintiff, asking that said description be reformed, and that plaintiff be compelled to pay an unpaid balance claimed to be due on said contract.
The circuit judge who heard the testimony decreed that defendant Lena Quackenbush (who held the record title) execute and deliver to plaintiff a good and sufficient conveyance of said twenty acres, and that the defendants be restrained from taking any steps to oust plaintiff from possession. Defendants, on appeal, insist that there was a legal land contract under which plaintiff was in default, and that defendants were entitled to have the relief sought, enforcement of the contract.
We are confronted solely with issues of fact. The rule is well established that the conclusion of the circuit judge will not be disturbed when fairly supported by the testimony, inasmuch as the trial judge sees and hears the witnesses and is in a better position to judge their credibility. However, we review chancery cases de novo, and we have therefore reviewed the record in this case to determine the equities.
We find that the exhaustive opinion of the court below is fully supported by the testimony. We quote it in part with approval:
‘In 1926 plaintiff was the owner of a modest home near Fisher Station where he lived with his family. At the same time defendants owned a piece of land near Ross Station, the value of which consisted mainly in the fact that on it was a gravel pit.
‘In 1930, plaintiff and his father entered into a trade of these two pieces for a farm in Algoma township with one Noble Heft, whose title at that time covered only thirty acres, subject to a mortgage for $750. There was a verbal understanding between the father and the son that the son should have the east ten acres on which there was an old house; and that the father should have the west twenty acres; each turning in his property on the trade and each to pay one-half of the mortgage on the farm acquired. Title was taken in the mother's name. Later another 10 acre piece between the two was acquired also in the name of the mother but with the understanding that it should be added to the son's 10 acre piece.
‘As to how the son was to pay his one-half of the mortgage is left in such uncertainty by the conflicting testimony of the parties that it would stagger the wisdom of a Solomon to determine what the arrangement was.
‘The son says that he has paid his one-half of the mortgage by furnishing a cow, a sow, some pigs, some produce, some labor and some board and room to his father and mother, which together are worth a sum far in excess of the amount he was to pay.
‘The father says that he paid about $520 on the son's place at Fisher Station and that this was to be added at least in part to the one-half of the mortgage debt to be paid by the son for his half of the farm. But in the next breath he says that when the son had paid down his half of the $750 mortgage he would owe nobody. The father denies that the son was to be given any credit for crops, provisions or labor and while he admits credit was to be given the son for the cow, sow and pigs, such credit was applied on the son's share of the...
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