KATHERINE MCKAY v. RONNIE REECE AND HIS WIFE, MARY REECE; JAMES BLANKENSHIP AND HIS WIFE, PATRICIA BLANKENSHIP; AND CITIZENS BANK OF LAFAYETTE (Tenn.Ct.App. September 18, 2007)
This is an action to set aside a warranty deed based on fraud. The plaintiff inherited family-owned property after her father's death, and she lived on the property. She obtained a line of credit for $40,000 from the defendant bank, secured by the property. The plaintiff defaulted on the loan, and the bank initiated foreclosure proceedings. The plaintiff contacted the defendants, acquaintances of her father, seeking their advice on how to stop the foreclosure. The defendants told the plaintiff that the bank could not stop the foreclosure, but suggested that, in order to avoid foreclosure, they would assume the plaintiff's $40,000 loan and the plaintiff would transfer the property to them. The parties agreed that, in addition to the defendants' assumption of the $40,000 loan, the plaintiff could live on the property for one year and repurchase the property at the end of the year for the amount of the loan plus any incidental costs. With that understanding, the plaintiff executed a warranty deed transferring the property to the defendants, and the defendants assumed the loan. Before the end of the agreed year, the defendants listed the property for sale with a real estate agent for approximately $400,000. When the plaintiff questioned the defendants, she was told that she could purchase the property for one dollar over the highest offer the defendants had received for the property. The plaintiff then filed this lawsuit, asking the court to set aside the warranty deed transferring the property to the defendants. After a bench trial, the trial court set aside the deed based on inadequacy of consideration and other badges of fraud. The defendants now appeal. We affirm, upholding the trial court's credibility determinations and finding that the preponderance of the evidence supports the trial court's decision.
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