Trujillo v. Montano, 6319

Decision Date24 June 1958
Docket NumberNo. 6319,6319
Citation1958 NMSC 79,64 N.M. 259,327 P.2d 326
PartiesM. A. TRUJILLO, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Luis MONTANO, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtNew Mexico Supreme Court

Johnston Jeffries, Aztec, H. A. Daugherty, Farmington, for appellant.

E. P. Ripley, Santa Fe, for appellee.

LUJAN, Chief Justice.

This appeal arises from the judgment of the district court of Rio Arriba County, wherein it held that a certain instrument was an absolute deed in its nature and not an equitable mortgage as the appellant contends.

The land in question, consisting of 97.2 acres, located in the above mentioned county was patented to Ramon Roybal on September 11, 1918. He died intestate prior to April 4, 1931, leaving as his sole heirs at law his wife, Senaida Roybal, sister of defendant, and Isidoro Roybal his son.

On April 11, 1931, Senaida Roybal and Isidoro Roybal deeded the land to Carmelita L. Sanchez, the mother of the plaintiff and predecessor in title, which deed was filed for record on April 15, 1931. Carmelita died intestate in 1939, leaving as her sole heir at law the plaintiff, M. A. Trujillo.

The land in question was sold for the 1937 taxes at a sale held on January 20, 1942, and Tax Sale Certificate No. 2257 based thereon was issued to the state. Tax Deed No. 2257-C based upon said sale was issued to the State on July 13, 1946.

Said land was sold for the 1938, 1939 and 1940 taxes at a sale held on January 20, 1942, and Tax Sale Certificate No. 2159 based thereon was issued to the State. Tax Deed No. 2159-C based upon above sale was issued to the state on July 10, 1946.

On December 31, 1947, the plaintiff made an application to repurchase the land. Pursuant thereto the State Tax Commission on March 31, 1948, issued a tax deed to said plaintiff which was filed for record April 19, 1948.

On July 27, 1948, Senaida Roybal made a formal application to repurchase the land, and on September 13, 1948, the State Tax Commission conveyed the land to the heirs of Ramon Roybal. On January 11, 1949, Senaida Roybal deeded said land to the defendant Luis Montano, which deed was recorded on January 11, 1949.

M. A. Trujillo, plaintiff and others, brought suit to quiet title to certain lands in the above mentioned county, including the land in question. Luis Montano, the defendant, affirmatively pleaded his title and contended that the deed from Senaida Roybal and Isidoro Roybal to Carmelita L. Sanchez, the appellee's mother and predecessor in title, was a fraudulent conveyance based on false representations and coercion, and that said deed was held by the appellee's mother as security only for an indebtedness according to the agreement of the parties to the deed. The court quieted the title in plaintiff and defendant brings this appeal.

For reversal of the judgment defendant-appellant first contends that the transaction entered into between Senaida Roybal and Isidoro Roybal, as grantors, and Carmelita L. Sanchez, as grantee, was a credit security transaction (pledge or mortgage) and not an unconditional sale nor a conditional sale and, therefore, it conveyed no legal title to the said Carmelita Sanchez. We are unable to agree with this contention.

On the same day that the warranty deed was executed and delivered to plaintiff-appellee an agreement was entered into by and between Carmelita L. Sanchez, appellee's predecessor in title and Senaida M. Roybal and Isidoro Roybal, appellant's predecessors in title, which reads as follows:

'Stipulation of Agreement

'Articles of settlement, made and agreed upon this 11th day of April, 1931, by and between Carmelita L. Sanchez, by Manuel A. Trujillo, her duly constituted attorney in fact, of Governador, County of Rio Arriba, State of New Mexico, party of the first part and Senaida M. Roybal and Isidoro Roybal, of the County of Rio Arriba, State of New Mexico, parties of the second part.

'Witnesseth, that on this day there has been duly executed a warranty deed by the parties of the second part in favor of the said party of the first part for a certain portion of land situated and being in the County of Rio Arriba, State of New Mexico, to wit:

(description)

'Now, if the said parties of the second part within one year from this date, redeem and pay the specified sum in the said warranty deed of Eight Hundred and Five Dollars, then, the party of the first part agrees to deliver the above duly executed warranty deed to the parties of the second part, or make a good and sufficient warranty deed of the property described, otherwise upon not carrying out the paying and redeeming of said sum, then and in that case, this obligation or settlement relieves the said party of the first part from returning the said above specified property and the said warranty deed will remain in full force and effect.' (Emphasis ours.)

On appellant's first point, from the facts found, the court concluded as a matter of law against appellant's contention:

'1. That the defendant Luis Montano's said Exhibit 1-a did not create a mutuality and reciprocity of the rights between the parties thereto in that Carmelita L. Sanchez could not have compelled Senaida Roybal and Isidoro Roybal to pay the consideration named in said Exhibit 1-a. (Warranty Deed)

'2. That the deed given by the Roybals to Carmelita L. Sanchez is absolute on its face and defendants said 'Exhibit 1-a' is insufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that said deed was simply security and not an absolute conveyance.'

These conclusions of law are supported by the findings of fact made by the court.

We are of opinion, and so hold, that the warranty deed given by the grantors to the grantee was an unconditional sale, subject only to an option to repurchase.

The deed from the Roybals to Mrs. Carmelita L. Sanchez was an ordinary warranty deed and contained no conditions and made no reference to the above agreement. The agreement refers to the deed and declares that 'upon not carrying out the paying and redeeming of said sum, then and in that case, this obligation or settlement relieves the said party of the first part from returning the said above specified property and the said warranty deed will remain in full force and effect.'

In the case of Sargent v. Hamblin, 57 N.M. 559, 260 P.2d 919, 926, (which is decisive of this point) the parties entered into an agreement, three days after the warranty deed had been executed and delivered, whereby the grantee agreed to reconvey the land involved therein at a specified time if the grantor paid a stated consideration within a certain time. In affirming the lower court in its holding that the transaction between the parties was an absolute sale with an option of repurchase, we said:

'One test which may be applied in determining the nature of the transaction is whether there exists mutuality and reciprocity of rights between the parties. In other words, it may be helpful to determine whether the grantee has the right to compel the grantor to pay the consideration named in the agreement for conveyance. If he can compel such payment the transaction is generally regarded as a mortgage, while if he cannot compel such payment the transaction is generally regarded as conditional sale. * * *'

See, also, Newport v. Chandler, 206 Ark. 974, 178 S.W.2d 240, 155 A.L.R. 1096; Wade v. McGinnis, 247 Ky. 261, 56 S.W.2d 1000; and Pierson Co. v. Freeman, 113 N.J.Eq. 268, 166 A. 121.

Under the terms of the above agreement the grantors were given one year from date thereof within which to redeem the land and to repay the sum of $805 recited in the warranty deed as consideration. In the event the grantors exercised the option to repurchase, then the grantee agreed to return the warranty deed or execute and deliver to grantors a sufficient warranty deed to said property, but should the sum of money above mentioned be not paid within the specified time then the grantee would be relieved from returning the deed or reconveying the property and the warranty deed theretofore executed and delivered to grantee would remain in full force and effect.

The agreement created no rights in favor of appellee or his predecessor in title by which either could compel the appellant or his predecessors in title to repay the consideration named in the warranty deed. The obligation under the option was unilateral enforceable only by the appellant or his predecessors in title. The trial court concluded as a matter of law:

'3. That the instrument introduced as Defendant's 'Exhibit 1-A' created a right to repurchase by Senaida Roybal and Isidoro Roybal without creating a right to enforce payment against the said Senaida Roybal and Isidoro Roybal.'

The only evidence of fraud or duress involved in this case is the unsupported statement of Senaida M. Roybal to the effect that the deed was made to keep her son from going to the penitentiary, but the appellee denied ever making such statement, and it became the duty of the trial judge to determine who was telling the truth. It believed the appellee. It is to be noted that the warranty deed was executed and delivered on April 11, 1931 and nothing was ever said to any one until March 30, 1954, some twenty three years thereafter.

The appellant next contends that, on account of the long delay of appellee in asserting his interest in the property herein involved, he is guilty of laches and is now barred from claiming any right or interest in said property. In support of the defense of laches he urges that the appellee and his mother, predecessor in title, waited for more than twenty years before bringing this action; that Senaida Roybal, his predecessor in title, occupied the land, tilled it, improved and used it as her home, during the period of inaction on the part of appellee; and that the appellee and his predecessor in title had knowledge that appellant and his predecessor in title asserted a claim adverse to appellee and his predecessor in title.

The record discloses that Senaida Roybal, ...

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9 cases
  • Raulie v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • August 2, 1968
    ...1915A, 1106; Sargent v. Hamblin, 57 N.M. 559, 260 P.2d 919; Boardman v. Kendrick, 59 N.M. 167, 280 P.2d 1053. See, also Trujillo v. Montano, 64 N.M. 259, 327 P.2d 326. (2) A deed, absolute in form, is presumed in law to be an absolute conveyance, and, in the absence of a showing of fraud, m......
  • Addison v. Benedict, 68--95
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • July 3, 1969
    ...756; Meller v. Hodsdon, 1885, 33 Minn. 366, 23 N.W. 543; Lewis v. Monson, 151 U.S. 545, 14 S.Ct. 424, 38 L.Ed. 265; Trujillo v. Montano, 1958, 64 N.M. 259, 327 P.2d 326; Smith v. Henley, 1958, 53 Wash.2d 71, 330 P.2d 712; 23 A.L.R. 79, and cases collected As was stated in Bird v. Benlisa (1......
  • State ex rel. State Tax Commission v. Garcia
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court
    • May 1, 1967
    ...he obtained no title and, consequently, his grantees obtained nothing from him. The State relies principally upon Trujillo v. Montano, 64 N.M. 259, 327 P.2d 326, wherein it was held that a person having no prior interest in property acquired nothing from the State through a deed issued purs......
  • Bell v. Ware
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court
    • November 21, 1961
    ...1106; Sargent v. Hamblin, 57 N.M. 559, 260 P.2d 919; Boardman v. Kendrick, 59 N.M. 167, 280 P.2d 1053. See also, Trujillo v. Montano, 64 N.M. 259, 327 P.2d 326. A deed, absolute in form, is presumed in law to be an absolute conveyance, and, in the absence of a showing of fraud, mistake, ign......
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