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Tomlinson v. Clarke

803 P.2d 828 (1991)

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Tomlinson v. Clarke

Washington Court of Appeals

803 P.2d 828 (1991)

Facts

Tomlinson (plaintiff) owned a few parcels of land, including 125 feet of shoreline on a lake. Tomlinson conveyed some of the land, including 50 feet of the shoreline property, to the Whitsells (plaintiffs) via an installment, or executory, contract. The Tomlinson-Whitsell contract contained an error, however, in that it described the land being sold as including the entire 125 feet of shoreline. The Whitsells did not record the contract for more than three years, and no one noticed the error in the land description. In the meantime, after Tomlinson sold the land to the Whitsells but before they recorded the contract, Tomlinson sold another parcel of land to the Clarkes (defendants). This sale was also an installment contract, and the description of the land being sold also included the same 125 feet of shoreline as was included on the Whitsells’ contract. The Clarkes promptly recorded their contract, more than two years before the Whitsells eventually recorded theirs. The Clarkes eventually discovered Tomlinson’s prior conveyance to the Whitsells, and a dispute and eventual lawsuit arose about the 50 feet of shoreline that the Whitsells believed they had purchased. The Whitsells argued that the Clarkes had not acquired the status of bona fide purchasers entitled to protection for recording first, because their contract was an installment contract. The Clarkes argued that installment contracts were a legitimate type of conveyance that did afford them protection as a bona fide purchasers upon first recording. The trial court held that because the contract was an installment contract, the Clarkes were not bona fide purchasers entitled to the protection of the recording statute. The Clarkes appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coleman, J.)

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