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Property held by same-sex couple as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship cannot be partitioned or sold in lieu of partition

Concluding that the property could not be reasonably partitioned or sold in lieu of partition, the court affirmed the trial court's order granting the defendant summary disposition as to the plaintiff's partition claim. As to plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint, the court held that her proposed claims of conversion and IIED were without merit. However, it concluded that she should be allowed to pursue her proposed claims of quiet title, quantum meruit, and breach of contract implied in fact. The property at issue was a lake front home. "Plaintiff and defendant were involved in a same-sex relationship for more than 30 years. In 1994, plaintiff began living with defendant in the house on the property." Via a warranty deed, "defendant conveyed the property to herself and plaintiff 'as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship.'" They "each owned an undivided one-half interest in the property, holding joint life estates with dual contingent remainders." Under Albro, "plaintiff was theoretically entitled to a partition of the life-estate portions of the parties' joint ownership interests." But she admitted that the lake house "was simply not amenable to a physical, in-kind division." As to a sale in lieu of partition, "because the dual contingent remainders at issue in this case are indestructible and not subject to partition, the most that either cotenant could ever be compelled to convey is her one-half interest in the joint life estate." As in Wengel, "the remedy for plaintiff in this case is 'to refrain from engaging in a costly legal battle or other confrontation with [the] occupying life tenant, deciding instead to take peaceful possession by invoking . . . her rights predicated on the contingent remainder upon the death of the life tenant.'" As to plaintiff's proposed additional claims, real property "cannot be the subject of a claim of common-law conversion" and she did not "plead sufficiently outrageous conduct by defendant" to support her IIED claim. However, there was a bona fide dispute as to whether defendant changed the locks and locked plaintiff out of the house, and the trial court erred in finding that it would be futile to allow her to add a quiet title claim. Further, her proposed claims of quantum meruit and breach of implied contract "were not based on the doctrine of common-law marriage or the parties' meretricious relationship." Rather, she claimed that "she had the right to equal access and enjoyment of the property under the terms of the warranty deed and that she was legally entitled to compensation for the loss of that right under a contract implied in fact." Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.


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