George C. Papageorge, Appellant,
Boyle Stuckey, et al., Appellees.
September 27, 2018
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CAB-2336-13) (Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Trial Judge)
Kimberly K. Fahrenholz, with whom Patrick C. Horrell and
Emily Whelden were on the brief, for appellant.
Kathryn Erklauer, with whom Carol S. Blumenthal was on the
brief, for appellees Boyle and Afomia Stuckey.
M. Murphy, with whom Joseph A. Smith was on the brief, for
appellee Eastern Savings Bank, FSB.
Fisher, Easterly, and McLeese, Associate Judges.
Fisher, Associate Judge.
latest chapter of a long-running property dispute, George
Papageorge alleges that Boyle Stuckey and Afomia Stuckey
("the Stuckeys") and Eastern Savings Bank
("ESB") violated his rights under the Tenant
Opportunity to Purchase Act ("TOPA"), D.C. Code
§§ 42-3404.02 to 42-3404.13 (2012 Repl.).
Papageorge claims that a former tenant of the property, Matt
Banks, validly assigned TOPA rights to him. The trial court
granted summary judgment for ESB and the Stuckeys on two
grounds. First, the court found that judicial estoppel
precluded Papageorge from invoking TOPA rights derived from
Banks after acknowledging that Banks had waived his TOPA
rights in the settlement of previous litigation. In the
alternative, the court found that Papageorge had no
enforceable TOPA rights because ESB had purchased Banks's
rights without notice of Papageorge's claim that those
rights had been assigned to him. We affirm for the separate
reason that no event had triggered the provisions of TOPA.
began more than a decade and a half ago regarding the
property located at 2507 33rd Street, S.E. ("the
Property"), a house that included rental units in the
basement and on the second floor. A truncated history begins
in April 2001, when ESB purchased the Property at
foreclosure. That October, tenant Matt Banks
purportedly assigned his rights under TOPA to Papageorge, a
relative of the house's former owner. This court soon
after ruled in ESB's favor regarding the propriety of the
foreclosure sale. See E. Sav. Bank, FSB v. Pappas,
829 A.2d 953 (D.C. 2003); Pappas v. E. Sav. Bank,
FSB, 911 A.2d 1230 (D.C. 2006). Subsequently, ESB
attempted to evict Banks from his unit due to a lease
violation, an effort this court blocked due to defective
notice. See Banks v. E. Sav. Bank, 8 A.3d 1239 (D.C.
2010). The next week, on December 9, 2010, Banks and
Papageorge signed a document confirming the purported
assignment from 2001 and formalizing their agreement that
Papageorge would finance Banks's continuing litigation
with ESB in exchange for seventy-five percent of any award.
January 23, 2012, Banks and his wife, Diane Banks, reached a
settlement of pending disputes with ESB, relinquishing their
claims to the Property in exchange for $100,
That agreement called for the Bankses to vacate the premises
by 5 p.m. on the next day, January 24. Papageorge alleges
that on January 24 he mailed a letter to ESB expressing his
interest in buying the property and enclosing a copy of a new
assignment of TOPA rights; ESB claims it first saw the letter
during litigation, more than one year later. The Bankses did
not vacate the premises until January 25 - when the couple
signed the settlement agreement - and ESB signed the document
on January 26.
than nine months passed until, on or about October 30, ESB
agreed to give a real estate broker the exclusive right to
sell the property. The listing agreement provided for a
reduced commission if Boyle Stuckey purchased the house. An
attorney for ESB attested in an affidavit that the bank first
began negotiations with the Stuckeys in November. On December
7, ESB filed with the District government a Vacant Building
Response Form which stated that the bank was "actively
seeking to sell" the building. Two weeks later, on
December 21, 2012, ESB sold the Property to the Stuckeys.
question whether summary judgment was properly granted is one
of law, and we review de novo." Johnson v.
District of Columbia, 144 A.3d 1120, 1125 (D.C. 2016)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
"Summary judgment is only appropriate where there is no
genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Liu v.
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