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03/14/90 MAYBELL LEEKS v. LAVINIA CARMEN LEEKS AND

March 14, 1990

MAYBELL LEEKS, APPELLANT
v.
LAVINIA CARMEN LEEKS AND DWIGHT WESLEY LEEKS, APPELLEES



Originally and Withdrawn from the Bound Volume

Before Newman, Steadman and Schwelb, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

NEWMAN, Associate Judge: This case arises from a protracted dispute between a grandmother, Maybell Leeks, and her grandchildren, Lavinia and Dwight Leeks, concerning the ownership of residential property, and was first before this court in 1974. Leeks v. Leeks, 316 A.2d 859 (D.C. 1974) (Leeks I). In the latest of a series of rulings made over the last decade, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Lavinia and Dwight Leeks, decreeing that they held an undivided two-thirds interest in the property, the remaining one-third interest held by Maybell Leeks in fee simple as a result of Leeks I.

Maybell Leeks alleges that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of appellees. She asserts that she holds the total fee simple interest in the house because a resulting trust was created in favor of her late husband, William Leeks, when the property was purchased in 1947. Lavinia and Dwight Leeks counter that no resulting trust was created and that even if one was, it is void because their grandfather illegally obtained the benefits of a Veteran's Administration loan through his son, James Leeks. We reject appellee's illegality defense. We find that the record doe not show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to who owned the remainder interest in the two-thirds interest not resolved by Leeks I; we reverse so much of the summary judgment as Maybell Leeks appeals.

I.

The events giving rise to this litigation began in 1947 when William Leeks (grandfather to Lavinia and Dwight Leeks and husband of Maybell Leeks) asked his son, James (father of Lavinia and Dwight Leeks), a World War II veteran, if he would purchase a home in the District of Columbia in his (James's) name, so that William could obtain the benefits of a veteran's loan. Leeks I, (supra) , 316 A.2d at 860. James Leeks, as an honorably discharged veteran, was entitled under the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, Pub. L. No. 78-346, 58 Stat. 284-301 (1944), as amended by Act of December 28, 1945, Pub. L. No. 78-268, 59 Stat. 623-32 (hereinafter "S.R.A."), to have a loan for the purchase of realty guaranteed by the Veteran's Administration. See 38 U.S.C. §§ 1801 -1827 (1982) (current codification of statute). James Leeks agreed and signed a contract for the purchase of a house at 4531 Eads Street, N.E. He stayed in the house, when he was not in the hospital, from 1947 until 1953, a year after he married Joyce Leeks and moved to Maryland.

It is asserted that William Leeks paid the entire down payment, which amounted to $750.00. Id. According to the assertions in Leeks I, he made all of the mortgage loan payments on the home from September 22, 1947, the date of the first payment, until the last payment came due on December 19, 1964. He claimed to have paid all of the property taxes and insurance, and financed all improvements, repairs and maintenance costs associated with the house. *fn1 Leeks I, supra, 316 A.2d at 860.

William Leeks died intestate on May 6, 1974, and Maybell Leeks, whom he married after his first wife's death in 1951, says she continued to pay taxes and make repairs on the property. James Leeks died intestate in 1970. Prior to his death, James adopted his wife's two children, Lavinia and Dwight Leeks, the appellees herein.

In Leeks I, William Leeks filed suit against James Leeks' widow, Joyce Leeks, seeking to have a resulting trust impressed on the property in his favor. Id. at 860. He claimed that the property was purchased in his son's name so that he "could obtain a Veteran's Administration guarantee of the loan" and that James Leeks acted merely as trustee. Id. Joyce Leeks denied that her husband had purchased the property as trustee for his father. Id. The trial court, per Judge McArdle, found that a resulting trust had been created in favor of William Leeks. Id.

This court affirmed the trial court's finding that a resulting trust had been created in favor of William Leeks with respect to the one-third interest of Joyce Leeks. We ordered the trial court to modify its judgment to indictate that it did not affect the unlitigated rights of James's adopted children, Lavinia and Dwight Leeks, who were not joined as parties in Leeks I. This court held, however, that the judgment in favor of William Leeks against Joyce Leeks was final. Id. *fn2

In so holding, the court implicitly recognized that, as the record title holder of the property in question, James's title to the property passed to his wife and two adopted children upon his death. D.C. Code § 19-301 (1989). Under D.C. Law, the surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of the estate and the remaining two-thirds is divided equally among the children. D.C. Code § 19-303 (1989). Thus, in Leeks I, we concluded that the decision would not affect the two thirds interest held by Lavinia and Dwight Leeks:

We find that this case is an appropriate one for modifying the judgment in order to protect the interest of the absent heirs, as to whom the judgment should not be res judicata, without disturbing the finality of [William Leeks'] judgment against [Joyce Leeks].

Leeks I, supra, 316 A.2d at 862. (emphasis added). After Leeks I, William conveyed the property to himself and his wife, as tenants by the entirety.

Upon remand, the trial court joined Lavinia and Dwight Leeks to its previous order in an effort to make the resulting trust binding on them as well as their mother, Joyce Leeks. A second appeal was taken to this court; we reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded with directions to the trial court to clarify that its original judgment was effective only as ...


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