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Marshall v. Hollywood, Inc.

Florida Supreme Court
236 So.2d 114 (1970)


Facts

Mathew Marshall and a partner owned as sole shareholders a large tract of land in Florida and formed a holding company in 1913 to hold the land. Marshall died in 1923, and his widow left the state, unaware of Marshall’s interest in the company. After Mrs. Marshall left Florida, Frank Terry engaged in a complex, fraudulent scheme to acquire ownership of the land. Through a series of forgeries and illegal actions, Terry disbanded the company and acquired deeds that placed ownership of the land under his control. Beginning in 1924, the land was conveyed through realty companies to other companies and to private individuals through private sales and forced sheriff’s sales. Mrs. Marshall died in 1945 without ever learning of her husband’s estate’s property interest. In 1966, Marshall’s brother (plaintiff), as executor of Marshall’s estate, discovered the interest. Approximately two-thirds of the land was by that point held by Hollywood, Inc., and the rest was held by other owners (defendants). Marshall’s brother brought a claim against the many current owners of the land, seeking to assert legal title to the land originally owned by Marshall and reclaim ownership back to his estate. The complaint was dismissed by final judgment with prejudice as barred by the state’s marketable-title act. Lower courts affirmed the dismissal, and through a series of appeals the matter eventually came before the Florida Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Carlton, J.)

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