United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
SAGE TITLE GROUPS, LLC d/b/a SAGE PREMIER SETTLEMENTS, Plaintiff,
LILLIE E. KERSEY, MERRITT KERSEY, MICHAEL J. KERSEY, MORRIS F. KERSEY, and MONA LISA KERSEY a/k/a MONA LISA KERSEY-MONTEITH, Defendants.
F. KELLY, Sr. J.
before the Court is Defendants, Mona Lisa Kersey-Monteith
(“Mona”), Michael Kersey (“Michael”),
and Morris Kersey's (“Morris”) (collectively,
“Siblings”) Motion for Summary Judgment,
Defendant, Merritt Kersey's (“Merritt”), both
Individually and Executor of the Estate of Lillie E. Kersey
(“Lillie”), Motion for Summary Judgment,
Siblings' Response in Opposition to Merritt's Motion,
and Merritt's Response in Opposition to Siblings'
Motion. For the reasons set forth below, Siblings' Motion
is granted and Merritt's Motion is denied.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 22, Sage Title Group, LLC
(“Sage”) commenced this diversity action by
filing its Complaint for Interpleader (“Interpleader
Complaint”) on January 4, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) The
Interpleader Complaint alleges that on or about May 15, 2014,
Mona, Michael, Morris, Lille, and Merritt (collectively,
“Defendants”) were the sellers of real property
located at 14 Isabella Lane, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania (the
“Property”). (Compl. ¶ 11.) Sage acted as the
title agent and conducted the real estate closing for the
sale, which occurred on May 15, 2014 (the
“Transaction”). (Id. ¶¶
11-12.) At the closing, Sage issued a check representing the
net proceeds of the sale, in the amount of $267, 499.69,
jointly payable to all Defendants. (Id. ¶ 13.)
Soon after settlement, Sage became aware that its proceeds
check had not been negotiated by Defendants and remained
uncashed. (Id. ¶ 14.)
was eventually alerted to a dispute between Defendants
regarding their respective distributive shares. (Id.
¶ 15.) The Property was originally acquired by Lillie E.
Kersey and her husband, Frederic F. Kersey
(“Frederic”) (collectively, the
“Parents”) by deed dated November 2, 1972.
(See Merritt's Mot. for Summ. J. at 2-3.) The
Parents added their two oldest children, Michael and Morris,
as co-owners in the Property via a deed dated August 11, 1987
(“1987 Deed”). (Id. at 3.) In the 1987
Deed, the Parents conveyed the property to the following
Fredderic F. Kersey and Lillie E. Kersey, his wife, tenants
by the entireties. Michael J. Kersey and Morris F. Kersey, to
the whole as joint tenants with the rights of survivorship.
(Id. at 5, Ex. B.)
current dispute pertains to the 1990 Deed (“1990
Deed”), which added the two youngest siblings, Mona and
Merritt; thus, conveying an interest in the Property to the
Parents and Michael, Mona, Merritt, and Morris (collectively,
the “Children”). The 1990 Deed recorded June 27,
1990, had the following named Grantees:
Frederic F. Kersey and Lillie E. Kersey, his wife, tenants by
the entireties. Michael J. Kersey, Morris F. Kersey, Mona
Lisa Kersey, and Merritt Kersey to the whole as joint tenants
with right of survivorship.
(Id. at 5, Ex. A.)
lawsuit, we are charged with giving a meaning to this
language of the 1990 Deed. Merritt suggests that, absent any
other admissible evidence, the parties used the period in the
conveyance between the Parents and the Children to create two
distinct classes of ownership, where the
Parents owned fifty (50%) percent, and the
Children owned the other fifty (50%) percent split equally
among them. (Id. at 13-17.) On the other hand,
Siblings claim that the Deed conveyed an equal 20% interest
to each of the five tenants. (See Siblings' Mot.
for Summ. J. at 2-4.)
STANDARDS OF LAW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) states that summary judgment is
proper “if there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law” See Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926
F.2d 262, 267 (3d Cir. 1991). The Court asks “whether
the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to the jury or whether . . . one party must
prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The moving
party has the initial burden of informing the court of the
basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the
record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986). “A fact is material if it could affect
the outcome of the suit after applying the substantive law.
Further, a dispute over a material fact must be
‘genuine, ' i.e., the evidence must be such
‘that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor
of the non-moving party.'” Compton v. Nat'l
League of Prof'l Baseball Clubs, 995 F.Supp. 554,
561 n.14 (E.D. Pa. 1998).
judgment must be granted “against a party who fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Once the moving party has
produced evidence in support of summary judgment, the
non-moving party must go beyond the allegations set forth in
its pleadings and counter with evidence that presents
“specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Big Apple BMW,
Inc. v. BMW of N. Am. Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1362-63 (3d
Cir. 1992). “More than a mere scintilla of evidence in
its favor” must be presented by the non-moving party in
order to overcome a summary judgment motion. Tziatzios v.
United States, 164 F.R.D. 410, 411-12 (E.D. Pa. 1996).
If the court determines that there are no genuine issues of
material fact, then summary judgment will be granted.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
Property Interests at Issue
are three forms of ownership of real estate property at issue
in this case. We will provide a brief background on each of