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Schey v. Campos

Superior Court of Rhode Island

June 29, 2016


         Providence County Superior Court

          Michael A. Kelly, Esq.; Nicholas J. Goodier, Esq. For Plaintiff:

          James P. Marusak, Esq. For Defendant:


          LANPHEAR, J.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.


         Yvonne Schey was the owner of both 64 and 92 Roberge Avenue, two adjoining parcels in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. (Compl. ¶ 6). Ms. Schey apparently completed an Administrative Subdivision of both properties in August of 2000, which reduced 64 Roberge Avenue by approximately 1200 square feet-to about 50, 779 square feet-and increased the adjacent 92 Roberge Avenue parcel by that same amount.

         Ms. Schey conveyed the property at 64 Roberge Avenue to her son, Timothy Schey, in the summer of 2003. Id. at ¶ 11. Mr. Schey received title to the property via a Warranty Deed from M. Yvonne Schey dated June 26, 2003 and recorded in the Woonsocket Registry of Deeds on June 27, 2003 in Book 1285 at Page 151. The 2003 deed to Mr. Schey does not reference the reduction in square footage (1200 feet) that was meant to be accomplished by the 2000 Administrative Subdivision. In fact, the deed merely describes the land as "[b]eing the same premises conveyed to this Grantor, by deed of Clarence Gregoire and Yvonne Gregoire, dated March 31, 1993 . . ." See Defs.' Ex. 4. Using the same legal description, Mr. Schey mortgaged the entire premises to Pawtucket Credit Union in May 2006 for $196, 000.

         Ms. Schey apparently attempted another Administrative Subdivision in 2015. Exhibit A to the original complaint is a subdivision plan dated August 3, 2015. The document does not show that it is recorded.[2] It is not signed nor does it reference Timothy Schey, though it purports to transfer some of his property.

         In July 2015, Timothy Schey agreed to transfer ownership of 64 Roberge Avenue to Daniel Campos and Gabriela Paz and they entered into a Purchase and Sales Agreement. Id. at ¶ 9; see also Defs.' Ex. 8(A). On August 12, 2015, Mr. Schey sold 64 Roberge Avenue to Daniel Campos and Gabriela Paz (the Buyers). The parties executed a variety of documents at the closing, including a Warranty Deed to the Buyers. (Defs.' Mem. Ex. 15, Mar. 1, 2016). The Warranty Deed from Timothy Schey to the Buyers dated August 21, 2015 was recorded in the Woonsocket Registry of Deeds on August 21, 2015 at 2:22 p.m. in Book 2168 at Page 25.[3]

         Shortly after the sale of 64 Roberge Avenue to Defendants, Yvonne Schey discovered that the transfer included a parcel of land along the shared property line that she contends was actually part of her home at 92 Roberge Avenue. Id. at ¶ 13. This parcel of land (the Disputed Area) is the subject of the instant suit. The Disputed Area contains a shed and a garden that extend onto 92 Roberge Avenue, both of which have purportedly been consistently used and maintained by Yvonne Schey. Id. at ¶¶ 15-16, 19. Yvonne Schey contends that she was the owner of the Disputed Area, and was never approached by Timothy Schey regarding his potential ownership of the Disputed Area prior to his transfer of 64 Roberge Avenue to the Buyers. Id. at ¶¶ 17, 22. As such, Plaintiffs contend that the Disputed Area was not part of the property conveyed to the Buyers. The Buyers contend that they own the Disputed Area included in the 2015 deed description.


         Within six weeks of the closing, the Plaintiffs filed a four count Complaint on September 23, 2015. Count I claims Mutual Mistake between Mr. Schey and the Buyers with regard to the alleged transfer of the Disputed Area. Count II contends that Yvonne Schey reacquired title to the Disputed Area by adverse possession. Count III seeks a declaratory judgment affirming Yvonne Schey's ownership of the Disputed Area, and Count IV seeks injunctive relief preventing the Buyers from trespassing on the Disputed Area.[4]

         The Buyers filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, on March 1, 2016. Plaintiffs objected to the Motion on March 21, 2016.

         Standard of Review

         When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the trial justice must keep in mind that it '"is a drastic remedy and should be cautiously applied."' Steinberg v. State, 427 A.2d 338, 339-40 (R.I. 1981) (quoting Ardente v. Horan, 177 R.I. 254, 366 A.2d 162, 164 (1976)). "Thus, '[s]ummary judgment is appropriate when, viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the [C]ourt determines that there are no issues of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Quest Diagnostics, LLC v. Pinnacle Consortium of Higher Educ., 93 A.3d 949, 951 (R.I. 2014). However, only when the facts reliably and indisputably point to a single permissible inference can this process be treated as a matter of law. Steinberg, 427 A.2d at 340.

         The party who opposes the motion for summary judgment "carries the burden of proving by competent evidence the existence of a disputed material issue of fact and cannot rest on allegations or denials in the pleadings or on conclusions or legal opinions." Accent Store Design, Inc. v. Marathon House, Inc., 674 A.2d 1223, 1225 (R.I. 1996); see also McAdam v. Grzelczyk, 911 A.2d 255, 259 (R.I. 2006). '"The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact. The burden then shifts . . . and the nonmoving party has an affirmative duty to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact."' McGovern ...

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