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Chornuk v. Nelson

Supreme Court of North Dakota
857 N.W.2d 587 (2014)


Facts

In 1986, Norman and Mildred Dahl conveyed a tract of land to Harry and Linda Chornuk (plaintiffs) by warranty deed. However, the deed was not recorded until 2010. In 2005, after Norman Dahl’s death, Mildred Dahl conveyed the same property by warranty deed to Craig and Julie Nelson (defendants). That deed was recorded in 2005. In 2010, after their deed was recorded, the Chornuks sued the Nelsons to quiet title to the property. The trial court quieted title in favor of the Chornuks. The court found the Chornuks mowed the property, planted trees, installed irrigation lines, and performed other maintenance. The Nelsons testified that they drove past the disputed property daily. The Nelsons argued that they did not know who planted the trees. The Nelsons claimed they only knew that the Chornuks were mowing the grass and watering the trees, and that this knowledge was not sufficient to support a finding that they had notice of the Chornuks’ interest in the property. The court held that the Chornuks’ actions were sufficient to put a prudent person on notice that someone else had an interest in the property. Therefore, according to the court, the Nelsons were required to conduct further inquiry before purchasing the property from Mildred Dahl. The court found the Nelsons had constructive notice of the Chornuks’ interest and were not good-faith purchasers. The Nelsons argued that they acquired their interest in the property in good faith and for valuable consideration. The Nelsons contended that because the Chornuks did not record their deed until after the Nelsons purchased the property and recorded their deed, the Nelsons’ interest was superior to the Chornuks’ interest. The Nelsons appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Crothers, J.)

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