734-359-7018
Now Accepting New Clients!
Blog

REAL ESTATE 60: The trial court erred in granting summary disposition to the Defendants as to Plaintiff’s quiet title, promissory estoppels, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud in the inducement claims.

BACKGROUND

This case arises out of a dispute between plaintiff and defendants regarding ownership of real property in Hamtramck, Michigan. Plaintiff brought this action, asserting claims of quiet title, breach of contract and promissory estoppel, equitable estoppel, unjust enrichment, fraud, fraud in the inducement, and conveyance with intent to defraud. Defendants filed a motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (10). Following a hearing on the defendants’ motion for summary disposition, the trial court granted the motion.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court reviews de novo a trial court’s decision on a motion for summary disposition.

QUIET TITLE AND BREACH OF CONTRACT

Plaintiff argues the trial court erred when it dismissed his claims of quiet title and breach of contract because the trial court erroneously construed the statute of frauds when dismissing those claims. We agree. Under MCR 3.411(B)(2), a plaintiff’s complaint for quiet title must allege: “(a) the interest the plaintiff claims in the premises; (b) the interest the defendant claims in the premises; and (c) the facts establishing the superiority of the plaintiff’s claim.” Plaintiff further alleged that he paid $39,000 toward the purchase of the Evaline Property. Plaintiff also claimed that he made permanent improvements to the property. We conclude that plaintiff sufficiently pleaded an oral agreement, and partial performance under that agreement, such that summary disposition should not have been granted in the defendants’ favor for these claims.

PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL

Plaintiff argues that he adequately pleaded a claim for promissory estoppel. We agree. To state a claim for promissory estoppel, a plaintiff must plead the following elements: (1) a promise, (2) that the promisor should reasonably have expected to induce action of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee, and (3) that in fact produced reliance or forbearance of that nature in circumstances such that the promise must be enforced if injustice is to be avoided.  Plaintiff adequately plead all elements.  Thus, under either MCR 2.116(C)(8) or MCR 2.116(C)(10), it was error for the trial court to dismiss plaintiff’s promissory estoppel claim.

EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL

Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred by concluding that plaintiff could not assert that the Defendants should be equitably estopped from denying the existence of the oral agreement. We agree. Equitable estoppel may arise where (1) a party, by representations, admissions, or silence intentionally or negligently induces another party to believe facts, (2) the other party justifiably relies and acts on that belief, and (3) the other party is prejudiced if the first party is allowed to deny the existence of those facts. The trial court dismissed plaintiff’s claim of equitable estoppel because plaintiff failed to provide evidence supporting his contention that he partially performed under the oral contract. To the extent the trial court granted summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10), we conclude that the trial court erred by requiring evidence of partial performance to sustain a claim of equitable estoppel.

UNJUST ENRICHMENT

Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred by dismissing his claim of unjust enrichment. We agree. “The elements of a claim for unjust enrichment are (1) receipt of a benefit by the defendant from the plaintiff, and (2) an inequity resulting to plaintiff from defendant’s retention of the benefit.” In such instances, the law operates to imply a contract in order to prevent unjust enrichment.” The trial court erred by failing to account for the fact that Defendant retained the benefit of ownership of the Evaline Property as a result of plaintiff’s alleged payments. Thus the trial court erred when it dismissed plaintiff’s claim for unjust enrichment.

FRAUD IN THE INDUCEMENT

Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred by dismissing plaintiff’s claim for fraud in the inducement. We agree. “[I]n in general, actionable fraud must be predicated on a statement relating to a past or an existing fact,” however, “Michigan also recognizes fraud in the inducement.” “Fraud in the inducement occurs where a party materially misrepresents future conduct under circumstances in which the assertions may reasonably be expected to be relied upon and are relied upon.” Id. The elements of fraud in the inducement are:  (1) the defendant made a material representation; (2) the representation was false; (3) when the defendant made the representation, the defendant knew that it was false, or made it recklessly, without knowledge of its truth and as a positive assertion; (4) the defendant made the representation with the intention that the plaintiff would act upon it; (5) the plaintiff acted in reliance upon it; and (6) the plaintiff suffered damage. While a standard fraud claim must be premised on a statement of past or existing fact, fraud in the inducement is premised on a promise by an individual that the individual does not intend to perform. We therefore reverse the decision of the trial court.

 ASSISTANCE WITH PROPERTY ISSUES

Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking resolution to a property litigation matter?

If you are facing a residential or commercial real estate issue, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney at Aldrich Legal Services.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000

 

Michigan Expungement Law Updates For 2021

There has been a new laws regarding expungements for the state of Michigan.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that expands the criteria for expungements related to traffic offenses, marijuana convictions, and minor...

Wills and Trusts

Originally posted on: 02/14/2014 Aldrich Legal Service provides legal advice and representation for residents in Plymouth, Ann Arbor, and Southeast Michigan. We also review recent legal cases to examine what took place and what we can...

REAL ESTATE 68: Holding that plaintiffs-buyers’ allegations of fraud in this case arising from the sale of a residence did not preclude the trial court from granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on a release, the court affirmed.

This cause of action arises from plaintiffs’ purchase of a residence from defendant, who had rights in the house under a land contract from co-defendant, the legal owner of the house. Before the house was for sale, in January 2018, an upstairs...

REAL ESTATE 65: Determining that it could not conclude the trial court erred in its factual findings, and that it did not err in reforming a 2005 deed, the court affirmed the ruling that defendants were fee simple owners of the disputed 50-foot area

This case arose from a real-property dispute between brothers, as well as their respective wives. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered its findings of fact. The trial court determined that plaintiffs did not prove that excluding the...

FAMILY LAW 58: The trial court did not err by denying defendant-father’s motion to change custody and modify his parenting time of the parties’ child without having an evidentiary hearing to determine if there was proper cause or a change in circums

This case arose from a custody and parenting-time dispute between plaintiff-mother and father over their minor child. After father failed to respond to the paternity complaint within the 21 days of receipt of the complaint, mother filed an affidavit...

DIVORCE 53: Although the court affirmed the trial court’s decisions to deny defendant’s motions to set aside the default and the default JOD, it vacated the portions of the default JOD as to the distribution of marital property, custody, parenting t

Plaintiff filed for divorce. Defendant filed an answer and a counterclaim for divorce.  Plaintiff and defendant were both ordered to appear at the settlement conference. After defendant failed to appear, the trial court entered a default. Soon...

FAMILY LAW 53: The trial court erred by treating the parties’ GAL as an LGAL and denying the parties the right to question her at a hearing; however, the trial court did not err in requiring the parties to compensate the GAL for her services.

Plaintiff and Defendant were never married, but share a young son who was born in 2016. The parties have battled over custody, child support, and other parenting issues ever since. In the spring of 2019, the parties filed competing motions to modify...

The Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary

Original Post: 1/11/2019 Often, burglary, robbery, and theft are used interchangeably even though there are distinct differences between all of them. Though, what all three do have in common is they may involve the unlawful taking of...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
consultation
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000
734-237-6482
734-366-4405