Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McLain v. McLain

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

March 12, 2018

FAITH MCLAIN, CHRISTEEN MCLAIN, JOHN MCLAIN, MOLLY MCLAIN, MIRA MCLAIN, AND MATTHEW MCLAIN, AS BENEFICIARIES OF THE ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN, AND MARY MCLAIN, INDIVIDUALLY AS BENEFICIARY OF THE ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE E-3 RANCH TRUST, Plaintiffs,
v.
FRANCIS MCLAIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CO-MANAGER OF TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES, CAROLINE MCLAIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MANAGING DIRECTOR OF TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES, ALAKHI JOY MCLAIN, SOHNJA MAY MCLAIN, AND DANE SEHAJ MCLAIN, AS PURPORTED CERTIFICATE HOLDERS OF THE E-3 RANCH TRUST, Defendants. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Intervenor Defendant and Counter/Cross Claimant,
v.
FAITH MCLAIN, CHRISTEEN MCLAIN, JOHN MCLAIN, MOLLY MCLAIN, MIRA MCLAIN, AND MATTHEW MCLAIN, as Beneficiaries of THE ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN; and MARY MCLAIN, as Beneficiary of the ESTATE OF BERNARD MCLAIN, and as Trustee of the E-3 RANCH TRUST, Counterclaim Defendants, and FRANCIS MCLAIN, Individually, and as Co-Manager of TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES; CAROLINE MCLAIN, Individually, and as Managing Director of TERA BANI RETREAT MINISTRIES; and ALAKHI JOY MCLAIN, SOHNJA MAY MCLAIN, AND DANE SEHAJ MCLAIN, as Beneficiaries of the E-3 RANCH TRUST, Crossclaim Defendants, and AMERICAN BANK OF MONTANA, Additional Defendant on United States' Claims

          ORDER

          SUSAN P. WATTERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Before the Court are United States Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan's findings and recommendations filed January 17, 2018. (Doc. 122). Judge Cavan recommends this Court deny the McClain Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 82) to quiet title in half the interest in the E-3 Ranch, deny the McClain Plaintiffs' cross motion for summary judgment (Doc. 96) on the same issue, and stay the action pending appointment of a personal representative for the estate of Bernard McClain.

         I. Standard of review

         The McClain Defendants filed timely objections to the findings and recommendations. (Doc. 124). The McClain Defendants are entitled to de novo review of those portions of Judge Cavan's findings and recommendations to which they properly object. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         II. Background

         The McClain Defendants object to what they perceive as Judge Cavan's characterization of the facts. The McClain Defendants' objections to Judge Cavan's background section do not affect the outcome. Judge Cavan's background section is adopted in full.

         III. Discussion

         The McClain Defendants make four objections. First, they argue the McLain Plaintiffs are barred from litigating what the agreement was between Frank McClain and Brad Hall because, in their view, the McClain Plaintiffs are uninterested parties to the agreement. Second, they argue even if the McClain Plaintiffs are not barred from litigating what the agreement was, the undisputed facts show the agreement was that Frank and Brad would each take a one-half interest in the E-3 Ranch. Third, they argue the McClain Plaintiffs are barred from defending the quiet title claim because they did not possess or have an interest in the property within the previous five years. Fourth, they argue the case should not be stayed because the estate of Bernard is not a necessary party.

         A. The McClain Plaintiffs are not barred from litigating what the agreement was between Frank and Brad

         The McClain Defendants argue the McClain Plaintiffs may not seek a determination of the agreement between Frank and Brad because the McClain Plaintiffs are strangers to the agreement. The Court disagrees.

         The McClain Defendants are correct that, generally, strangers to a contract do not have standing to sue for a breach of the contract. Palmer v. Bahm, 128 P.3d 1031, 1034 (Mont. 2006). However, the McClain Defendants are incorrect that Palmer bars the parties litigating what the agreement was between Frank and Brad.

         The McClain Plaintiffs are arguably interested parties to the agreement, not strangers, because Frank conveyed to Bernard via quitclaim deed "all interest, equity, and claim" Frank had in the E-3 Ranch. (Doc. 5-1 at 37). The transfer of property is an executed contract subject to all rules concerning contracts. Mont. Code Ann. § 70-1-502. Similar to an assignee and assignor relationship under contract principles, a grantee stands in the shoes of the grantor. Watts v. HSBC Bank U.S. Trustee, 308 P.3d 57, 61 (Mont 2013); Carter v. Heitzman, 198 A.D.2d 649, 649-650 (N.Y.App.Div. 1993). Bernard, and arguably his devisees, are the grantees of Frank's interest in the E-3 Ranch, and stand in Frank's shoes.

         Furthermore, determinations of prior conveyances are fairly common in quiet title actions because a quitclaim deed transfers only such title and interest as the grantor had when he delivered the title. Turner v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 291 P.3d 1082, 1090 (Mont. 2012). The McClain Plaintiffs, as Bernard's devisees, have a colorable claim to Bernard's interest in the E-3 Ranch, which in turn depends on what Frank's interest was in the E-3 Ranch. Frank's interest in the E-3 Ranch depends on what the agreement was between him and Brad. The McClain Plaintiffs therefore do not seek to enforce the agreement between Frank and Brad, but rather seek to determine what the agreement was because the terms of the agreement are material to the determination of this outcome. See Somont Oil Co., Inc. v. Nutter, 743 P.2d 1016, 1021-1022 (Mont. 1987) (determining plaintiff s interest in parcel of land by analyzing prior conveyances of the land made by other persons); Carter, 198 A.D.2d at 649-650 (in quiet title action, determining interests of plaintiff and defendant by analyzing prior conveyances of the land made by other persons). The McClain Plaintiffs are not barred from seeking a determination of what the agreement was between Frank and Brad.

         B. Whether Frank and Brad agreed to each take a one-half interest in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.