Justia Alabama Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate Law
Jakeman v. Lawrence Group Management Company, LLC, et al.
Kenneth Jakeman appealed the trial court's dismissal of his claims against defendants Lawrence Group Management Company, LLC, Montgomery Memorial Cemetery ("MMC"), and Judy A. Jones. Lawrence Group owned and operated Montgomery Memorial Cemetery. Lawrence Group purchased the cemetery from Alderwoods, Inc. in or around 2002. In 1967, Jakeman's father, Ben, purchased a 'family plot' in the cemetery containing 10 separate burial spaces. The plot Ben selected was specifically chosen because of its location adjacent to plots owned by Ben's mother, Frances O'Neal. Pursuant to the terms of the purchase agreement, burial within Ben's plot was limited to members of either the Jakeman family or the O'Neal family. In 2002, MMC allegedly mistakenly conveyed two spaces in Ben's family plot to James Jones and his wife, Judy. James was interred in one of those two spaces. In 2006, Kenneth Jakeman learned that James had been buried in Ben's family plot, at which time, Kenneth says, he immediately notified MMC and Ben. In response to demands by Kenneth and Ben, MMC disinterred James and moved both his body and his marker; however, James was reinterred in another space on Ben's family plot. Ben died in 2008. At the time of Ben's death, James's body remained buried in one of the spaces in Ben's plot. Despite the offer of an exchange of burial spaces, and based upon their purported refusal to again exhume and move James's body and marker, in May 2010 Kenneth Jakeman filed suit against Alderwoods, Lawrence Group, MMC, and Judy Jones, alleging breach of contract; trespass; negligence, willfulness, and/or wantonness; the tort of outrage; and conversion. In her answer to Kenneth's complaint, Judy asserted her own cross-claim against Alderwoods, Lawrence Group, and MMC, based on their alleged error in conveying to her spaces already owned by Ben and the initial erroneous burial of James, his disinterment, and his subsequent erroneous reburial in another of Ben's spaces. Alderwoods moved to dismiss Kenneth Jakeman's complaint, arguing he lacked 'standing' to pursue the stated claims, that the asserted tort claims did not survive Ben's death, and that some of the claims were barred by the expiration of the applicable limitations periods. Lawrence Group and MMC later joined Alderwoods's dismissal motion. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded that Kenneth Jakeman was entitled to pursue his individual breach-of-contract claim concerning MMC's reinterment of James Jones in one of the his family's plots, and that he was entitled to pursue his claim for injunctive relief. View "Jakeman v. Lawrence Group Management Company, LLC, et al. " on Justia Law
Stokes, Jr. v. Cottrell
The parties in this case separately petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the Court of Civil Appeals' judgment overturning an award of property from the estate of Estelle Haggerty Alexander. The decedent owned 270 acres of property, and died intestate. Following a bench trial, the court divided the six parcels of land that constituted Estelle's estate, finding that the plaintiffs and their ancestors had adversely possessed three parcels by living on the land and engaging in certain activities there but that the heirs of Larenda Jenkins, as holders of legal title, were entitled to the other three, farmed parcels. Holding that the plaintiffs' possession of the land was permissive rather than adverse, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed the circuit court's judgment in part and instructed the circuit court that title to all six parcels should be quieted in the heirs of Larenda Jenkins. After careful consideration of the facts of this case, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "[t]he Court of Civil Appeals stated the ore tenus rule in its standard-of-review section, but in its analysis of the evidence did not accord the circuit court's findings the required deference. . . . we conclude that credible evidence was presented to support the circuit court's allotment to the plaintiffs of the three parcels . . .it is a rare case when this Court will overturn a finding by a trial judge who hears an adverse possession case presented ore tenus." View "Stokes, Jr. v. Cottrell" on Justia Law