Todd v. Todd
California Supreme Court
164 Cal. 255 (1912)
Baxter Todd (plaintiff) owned a lot of real property in the city of Los Angeles and several other lots just outside the city. Baxter asked his wife, Mary Todd (defendant), if she would loan him some money. Mary agreed and instructed Baxter to have her agent, Griffin, arrange it. Griffin did not draw up a loan agreement or a mortgage agreement. Rather, Griffin structured the transaction and corresponding paperwork as Baxter selling the lots of real property to Mary for $1,600 and retaining an option to repurchase the lots within one year, with interest accruing on the option at a rate of 7 percent per year. At one point, Mary sold the Los Angeles lot, with Baxter’s blessing, for $1,000 and retained the purchase price as partial payment of the purported loan. More than a decade after the initial transaction, Baxter filed a court action seeking a judgment that, despite the form of the transaction, he had not conveyed a deed absolute to Mary but had merely granted her a mortgage in exchange for a loan. Baxter contended that he had a right to pay his debt and compel Mary to reconvey the unsold lots back to him. Mary argued that the transaction should legally be viewed as it was formally structured—that is, as an outright sale. The trial court ruled in favor of Baxter, and Mary appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sloss, J.)
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