Larry Schindler, Julie Schindler a/k/a Judy Schindler, and Estate of Eugene Weisbeck, Plaintiffs and Appellants
Richard D. Wageman, Defendant and Appellee and all other Persons unknown or claiming an Estate of interest therein, Defendants
from the District Court of Morton County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.
Garrett D. Ludwig, Mandan, ND, for plaintiffs and appellants.
Malcolm H. Brown, Bismarck, ND, for defendants and appellees.
1] Larry and Julie Schindler and the estate of Eugene
Weisbeck ("the Estate") appeal from a judgment
dismissing their action to reform warranty deeds and quiet
title in themselves to certain Morton County property.
Because we cannot determine whether the district court
correctly applied the law, we reverse and remand this case
for further proceedings.
2] In November 1981, Richard Wageman's parents, Arthur
and Doris Wageman, entered into a contract for deed to sell
to Julie Schindler's father, Eugene Weisbeck, a portion
of a quarter section of Morton County property described in
part as "lying North of the service road" and
"being eleven (11) acres more or less." The
contract for deed listed the purchase price as $70, 000. On
the same day, the Schindlers entered into a lease agreement
with Weisbeck in which they agreed to rent to own the
property that was the subject of the contract for deed. The
property described in the lease was identical to the legal
description in the contract for deed and the purchase price
listed in the lease was also $70, 000. The Schindlers made
the payments on the contract for deed between the Wagemans
3] In order to obtain a loan to pay off the balance owed on
the contract for deed, the Schindlers were required by the
lender to have the land surveyed because the land subject to
the loan had to be less than 10 acres. The Schindlers had
platted a 9.99 acre parcel of the property which was
described as "Auditor's Lot 'A'"
("Lot A"). Lot A did not include 5.43 acres, which
the parties refer to as "Outlot 'B'"
("Lot B"), that comprises the remainder of the
property described in the contract for deed. In August 1993,
after the contract for deed had been satisfied, Doris Wageman
executed a warranty deed conveying to Weisbeck only Lot A
"in fulfillment of Contract for Deed." The deed
listed the consideration as $70, 000. On the same day,
Weisbeck executed a warranty deed conveying to the Schindlers
only Lot A. The deed listed the consideration as $57, 000. In
February 2001, Richard Wageman also executed a warranty deed
to the Schindlers conveying only Lot A to assist them in
refinancing a mortgage.
4] After learning they were not considered the owners of Lot
B, the Schindlers and the Estate brought this action to
reform the warranty deeds and quiet title to both Lot A and
Lot B in conformity with the 1981 contract for deed.
Following a trial, the district court found the
"Schindlers have not met the burden of proving the
parties to the contract for deed and the warranty deed
conveying Auditor's Lot 'A' to Eugene Weisbeck
did not correctly state the intention of the parties to those
documents," and dismissed the action.
5] The Schindlers and the Estate seek to reform the warranty
deeds to match the property description in the 1981 contract
for deed. They contend, in part, that the district court
misapplied the law in determining their cause of action
seeking to reform the warranty deeds should be dismissed.
6] Section 32-04-17, N.D.C.C., provides for reformation of
When, through fraud or mutual mistake of the parties, or a
mistake of one party which the other at the time knew or
suspected, a written contract does not truly express the
intention of the parties, it may be revised on the
application of a party aggrieved so as to express that
intention so far as it can be done without prejudice to
rights acquired by third persons in good faith and for value.
7] In George v. Veeder, 2012 ND 186, ¶ 13, 820