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REAL ESTATE 38: Plaintiff fails to make land contract payments.

This case arises from a land contract and quitclaim deed that plaintiff signed with T Company on October 22, 2010. The land contract stated that T Company sold real property to plaintiff.  The land contract further stated that if plaintiff failed to make a monthly payment, T Company could execute the quitclaim deed, thereby terminating plaintiff’s rights to the real property under the land contract. If that occurred, plaintiff would be deemed a tenant and would continue to make monthly payments if she continued to occupy the real property.

Plaintiff failed to make a payment and T Company executed the quitclaim deed. T Company then executed a quitclaim deed.

On December 18, 2013, T company initiated an eviction proceeding against plaintiff in the district court. In that action, plaintiff and defendant entered a consent judgment under which plaintiff agreed to pay $4,033 in unpaid rent. Plaintiff did not appeal the consent judgment and eventually surrendered the real property after failing to make the payment.

Subsequently, plaintiff filed this lawsuit against defendant and alleged fraud, forgery, fraud on the court, and fraudulent inducement of the land contract. Defendant filed a motion for summary disposition, arguing that plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

Defendant asserted that plaintiff could have brought her fraud claims in the first lawsuit. Plaintiff argued that she was not aware of her potential fraud claims until 2015, and that she could not have brought those claims earlier.

The trial court held that plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata because plaintiff could have raised the claims in one of the earlier lawsuits.

The doctrine of res judicata is employed to prevent multiple suits litigating the same cause of action. A second action is barred when (1) the first action was decided on the merits, (2) the matter contested in the second action was or could have been resolved in the first, and (3) both actions involve the same parties.

All the elements of res judicata were present, and the trial court properly granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on the doctrine of res judicata.

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