Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 91-2-02165-1. Date filed: 05/25/95. Judge signing: Hon. Horton Smith.
PER CURIAM. LaBlase and Millicent Blocquer appeal the judgment entered against them following a non-jury trial in this real estate matter. The Blocquers argue that the court erred in failing to grant their motion to dismiss and by allowing the plaintiffs, Philip and Georgene Rognier, to amend their complaint on the first day of trial. They also challenge the trial court's findings of fact, contending that they are not supported by substantial evidence.
No response has been filed by the Rogniers to this appeal. *fn1 The Blocquers have also filed a motion to modify the court commissioner's ruling referring this matter for Disposition without oral argument. That motion is denied. Because the trial court did not commit error and the findings are amply supported by the record, we affirm.
In January of 1982, Philip and Georgene Rognier purchased an investment home from Richard Connors of Connors Investment Company. The Rogniers later gave Georgene's brother, William Stephan, and his wife a half interest in the property.
Shortly thereafter, the Rogniers and the Stephans asked Connors to find new rental tenants for the home who might also be interested in later purchasing the property. Connors told them that he had arranged for LaBlase and Millicent Blocquer to lease the home for $682.08 a month. It was the Rogniers' understanding that they would give the Blocquers a break in the rent and in exchange, the Blocquers would pay the property taxes, insurance and repairs. The Blocquers paid their monthly rent payments to the Rogniers.
Later that year, without the Rogniers' knowledge, Connors "sold" the house to the Blocquers purportedly on the Rogniers' behalf. He drafted a real estate contract with an addendum and an option to purchase the property. The documents were never signed by the Rogniers, nor were they notarized or recorded. The documents also contained errors. (For example, the option to purchase agreement identifies the purchasers as the Rogniers and the sellers as the Blocquers.)
Months later, Connors also drafted and signed a document entitled "Terms and Conditions." Although the document indicates that Connors signed the document under a power of attorney, it was undisputed that neither the Rogniers nor the Stephans ever gave Connors such power. The terms and conditions document also provides that "said real estate contract shall not be recorded, and purchaser agrees that he shall not sell said property on a real estate contract." This document also was never notarized nor recorded.
The Blocquers continued to make monthly payments to the Rogniers. In 1990, Mrs. Blocquer asked the Rogniers to fix the fuse box. After the Rogniers failed to reply, Mrs. Blocquer wrote the Rogniers again stating that she was deducting the repair costs for the box from next month's "rent." The Rogniers told the Blocquers that if they were unhappy with the arrangement, they should consider buying the property.
The Blocquers stopped paying the Rogniers rent for 10 months. The Rogniers eventually brought an unlawful detainer action against the Blocquers. After conducting a title search on the property, the Rogniers discovered that the Blocquers had filed a homestead declaration against the property and had recorded the option to purchase agreement drafted by Connors. The Rogniers amended their complaint to state claims for quiet title and ejectment, or in the alternative, partition.
While the Rogniers' action was still pending and after the Rogniers filed and served their summary judgment motion, the Blocquers filed a petition in bankruptcy. In that petition, the Blocquers stated they did not own any real estate. The Blocquers also did not declare ownership of the home for tax purposes.
The Rogniers were unable to make their mortgage payments on the property. Attempts to sell the property were unsuccessful because of the title dispute with the Blocquers. The property was eventually non- judicially foreclosed. Afterwards, the Blocquers purchased the property for $117,000 from the purchaser of the trustee's deed. After the holder of the first deed of trust was paid off, approximately $15,000 remained. That amount was deposited with the King County Superior Court clerk.
The case went to trial in April of 1995. At the beginning of the trial, the Blocquers moved to dismiss the case as moot. They argued that because Rogniers' ownership interest in the property had been extinguished by the foreclosure, none of the Rogniers' remedies for quiet title, ejectment or partition could be granted.
The Rogniers responded that the issue of who held prior title to the property still needed to be determined because (1) the moneys held in the court registry could not be distributed without a determination of ownership; and (2) they were damaged by the Blocquers' claims of ownership. The court denied the Blocquers' motion and allowed the Rogniers to orally amend their complaint.
The court rendered judgment in favor of the Rogniers in the amount of $58,000 representing the Rogniers' loss of equity in the home and resulting damages. The court further ruled that Phyllis Rognier, the holder of the second deed of ...