Sheffield v. Buxton

Citation547 So.2d 432
PartiesWillie E. SHEFFIELD v. Ida BUXTON. 87-1344.
Decision Date21 April 1989
CourtSupreme Court of Alabama

Joseph C. McCorquodale III of McCorquodale and McCorquodale, Jackson, for appellant.

Lee B. Williams, Grove Hill, for appellee.

STEAGALL, Justice.

This appeal arises from the trial court's denial of a motion for new trial in an action to reform two deeds.

Henry Buxton, Jr., died testate and his will was admitted to probate in Clarke County. The beneficiaries were his daughters, Rose Mary Gill and Bessie Jane Stewart. Ida Buxton, his widow, elected to dissent from the will under § 43-8-70, Ala.Code 1975. Gill and Stewart conveyed their interest in their father's estate to Willie Sheffield by deed.

The dispute between Buxton 1 and Sheffield arises out of the terms of a settlement agreement. Buxton contends that under the negotiated agreement, she was to receive $7800 and lot 8 on Spinks Drive, the lot on which her home, where she has lived since 1954, is located, and that Sheffield was to receive the remainder of Henry Buxton's rental property. Sheffield, however, contends that he was to receive lots 6 and 8 on Spinks Drive and that Buxton was to receive $7800 and lot 7 on Spinks Drive.

Deeds were prepared in accordance with Sheffield's perception of the negotiated settlement agreement; Buxton and Sheffield signed and executed those deeds. It was not until Sheffield attempted to sell the house on lot 8 that Buxton discovered that the deed she had received conveyed lot 7, not lot 8.

Buxton sued Sheffield on December 11, 1987, alleging mutual mistake, fraud, and misrepresentation. She sought equitable relief in the form of reformation of the deeds, to have the terms of the deeds coincide with what she alleged was the actual agreement between her and Sheffield. Sheffield's motion to dismiss and his motion for summary judgment were denied and the case was tried ore tenus. The trial court made findings of fact and reformed the deeds to comply with the terms of the settlement as Buxton had said she understood them. Sheffield then moved for a new trial. Upon denial of his motion, Sheffield appealed, arguing that it was error to reform the deeds.

When a party seeks the reformation of a deed, Code 1975, § 35-4-153, controls:

"When, through fraud, or a mutual mistake of the parties, or a mistake of one party which the other at the time knew or suspected, a deed, mortgage or other conveyance does not truly express the intention of the parties, it may be revised by a court on the application of the party aggrieved so as to express that intention, insofar as this can be done without prejudice to rights acquired by third persons in good faith and for value. (Code 1928, § 6825; Code 1940, T. 47, § 136.)"

This Court has stated:

"For an instrument to be reformed, there must have been a meeting of the minds, and a mutual mistake in executing it that does not express the common intent, or a mistake on the part of one, and conduct on the part of the other so that it would be inequitable to deny a mutual mistake."

Morgan v. Roberts, 387 So.2d 170, 172 (Ala.1980) (citation omitted).

In an action for reformation, "the plaintiff bears the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence." Miller v. Davis, 423 So.2d 1354, 1355 (Ala.1982).

Five witnesses testified at the ore tenus trial, including Buxton, Sheffield, and ...

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2 cases
  • Hollis v. Cameron
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 14 Diciembre 1990
    ...on the part of one, and conduct on the part of the other so that it would be inequitable to deny a mutual mistake.' " Sheffield v. Buxton, 547 So.2d 432, 433 (Ala.1989), quoting Morgan v. Roberts, 387 So.2d 170, 172 (Ala.1980). Where, as here, reformation is sought solely on the ground of m......
  • Abernethy v. Abernethy
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 4 Diciembre 1992 and such conduct on the part of the other that it would be inequitable to deny that there had been a mutual mistake. Sheffield v. Buxton, 547 So.2d 432 (Ala.1989). The record before us does not support the trial court's judgment with regard to the defendants' counterclaim for reformatio......

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