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Lay v. Raymond

Court of Appeals of Oregon

September 17, 2014

CARRIE LAY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GERALD VERN RAYMOND and BELL " A" GRAZING COOPERATIVE, an Oregon cooperative, Defendants-Respondents, and VIRGIL WILSON and LEAH WILSON, Trustees of Wilson Family Trust, Defendants

Submitted December 11, 2013

Harney County Circuit Court 1012349CV. W. D. Cramer, Jr., Judge.

Claud Ingram filed the briefs for appellant.

Mike Kilpatrick filed the brief for respondent Gerald Vern Raymond.

H. Clifford Looney waived appearance for respondent Bell " A" Grazing Cooperative.

Before Sercombe, Presiding Judge, and Hadlock, Judge, and Tookey, Judge.

OPINION

Page 551

[265 Or.App. 490] SERCOMBE, P. J.

In this partition action under ORS 105.205, plaintiff sought to partition a ranch property that she and defendant hold by a deed. The trial court concluded that, according to that deed, she and defendant hold the

Page 552

property as tenants in common in a life estate with cross-contingent remainders. The trial court determined that, as a result of that cotenancy, for a period of more than three years during which defendant excluded plaintiff from the property, plaintiff was entitled to a one-half share of the reasonable rental value for portions of the property, along with a one-half share of the profits from cattle grazing and hay production, less expenses for costs and labor. The trial court ruled that partition was " impossible," however, because no evidence had been presented as to the value of either party's life estate. Plaintiff now argues that the trial court erred by deducting expenses from the ranch's profits and by denying her claim for partition. Although we conclude that the trial court did not err in dividing the profits and expenses of the property for the period during which plaintiff was excluded, we conclude that the trial court erred when it denied plaintiff's partition claim. Accordingly, we reverse and remand on plaintiff's claim to partition real property and otherwise affirm.

We set forth the relevant facts in a manner consistent with the trial court's express and implicit factual findings, and we review for errors of law.[1] Eagles Five, LLC v. Lawton, 250 Or.App. 413, 415, 415-16 n 2, 280 P.3d 1017 [265 Or.App. 491] (2012). Defendant lived on and operated a ranch comprising several hundred acres that he inherited from his parents. He lived in a house on the property, which was otherwise primarily used as a pasture for cattle grazing and hay production. In 2001, defendant deeded to himself and plaintiff, with whom he had a son, the ranch property " with rights of survivorship."

In 2004, defendant and Bell " A" Grazing Cooperative (Bell) entered into a lease agreement, with an option to purchase, for 160 acres of the ranch property. The agreement provided that Bell would pay defendant $5,000 per year to lease the property and that " [e]ach five year increment of $25,000.00 will be applied toward the total purchase price of $125,000.00." At the end of any five-year term, Bell could " renew the lease or pay the remaining balance in full for the purchase of said property."

Several years later, plaintiff's relationship with defendant broke down. Beginning in 2009, defendant excluded plaintiff from the property. Plaintiff filed suit, seeking partition of the real property--a partition in kind--with one half to plaintiff and one half to defendant, after protecting Bell's interests. In the alternative, plaintiff requested that the " property be sold at public sale." Plaintiff also brought a claim for " one half of the rental moneys ...


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