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Demartini v. Demartini

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 30, 2018

TIMOTHY P. DEMARTINI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MICHAEL J. DEMARTINI, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW; INTERLOCUTORY JUDGMENT

          JOHN MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The partition claim in the above-captioned case came before the Court for a bench trial on April 17 and 18, 2018. ECF Nos. 332 & 336. Plaintiffs seek partition of a piece of property in the County of Nevada, APN: 06-370-64, commonly known as 12757, 12759, and 12761 Loma Rica Drive (“Grass Valley Property”). The Court heard testimony and received evidence from the parties and ed the matter submitted. The parties then filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. ECF Nos. 354 & 355.

         Having considered the evidence, trial briefs, and other submissions by the parties, the Court hereby makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         A. Facts Regarding Title and Ownership Interest

         1. On May 24, 1977, a Deed was recorded in which Harold J. Gleason and Mildred L. Gleason, his wife, transferred 100% fee ownership interest in the Grass Valley Property to: (i) James P. DeMartini and Thelma L. DeMartini, his wife, as joint tenants, an undivided one-half interest, and (ii) Timothy P. DeMartini and Margie DeMartini, his wife, as joint tenants, an undivided one-half interest. Pl. Ex.1.

         2. On October 17, 1977, a Deed was recorded in which James P. DeMartini and Thelma L. DeMartini, as joint tenants, and Timothy P. DeMartini and Margie DeMartini, as joint tenants, transferred 100% fee ownership interest in the Grass Valley Property to: (i) James P. DeMartini and Thelma L. DeMartini, his wife, as joint tenants, an undivided one-third interest, and (ii) Timothy P. DeMartini and Margie DeMartini, his wife, as joint tenants, an undivided one-third interest, and (iii) Michael J. DeMartini and Renate DeMartini, his wife, as joint tenants, an undivided one-third interest. Pl. Ex. 2.

         3. Upon the death of James P. DeMartini, the Trustees of the Marital Trust under the Will of James P. DeMartini transferred James P. DeMartini's ownership interest in the Grass Valley Property to his surviving spouse, Thelma L. DeMartini. Pl. Ex. 3.

         4. Thereafter, Thelma L. DeMartini by Grant Deed transferred her undivided one third interest in the Grass Valley to: (i) Timothy P. DeMartini and Margie DeMartini, his wife, as joint tenants, an undivided one-half interest, and (ii) Michael J. DeMartini and Renate DeMartini, his wife, as joint tenants, an undivided one-half interest. Pl. Ex. 4 5. These four deeds show that as of December 28, 1984, Plaintiffs Timothy P. and Margie DeMartini, husband and wife and as joint tenants owned an undivided fifty percent interest in the Grass Valley Property, and Defendants Michael J. and Renate DeMartini, husband and wife and as joint tenants owned an undivided fifty percent interest in the Grass Valley Property. Pl. Exs. 1-4; Transcript 396:13-17.

         6. On May 6, 2015, Timothy P. DeMartini executed a quitclaim deed disavowing an August 14, 2014, deed and deeding “any interest attempted to be transferred in the property referenced therein” back to the parties. Def. Ex. CCCCC036.

         7. There is no other evidence that the property is owned by a partnership between the parties. Defendants' claim that a global partnership existed between the parties was adjudicated against Defendants in an earlier stage of this case. See ECF Nos. 232, 267, 345, & 347.

         8. No evidence of any lien against or other interest in the Grass Valley Property was presented.

         B. Facts Regarding Waiver

         1. The parties signed a settlement agreement with Gordon and Linda Mulay, and affiliated individuals, dba Electronic Carbide Process and Electronic Carbide Inc. (collectively “ECI”) in October of 2008. Def. Ex. II (pages 1-5). ECI leased 12757 Loma Rica Drive from the parties and a dispute later arose concerning damage to the premises. ECI agreed to pay the parties $16, 000.00 for a general release, as set forth in paragraph 3 of the agreement, of claims between the parties. The release “does not include, and expressly excludes, any known or unknown claims [the DeMartinis] may have for environmental contamination caused by ECI's occupation of the premises.” Def, Ex. II, ¶ 3.

         2. The Settlement Agreement states that the parties and “ECI further acknowledge that ECI represents and [the DeMartinis] accepts ECI's representation that ECI is informed and believes that any environmental impacts related or relating to the lease and/or occupancy of the premises of [the DeMartinis] by ECI have or will dissipate without mitigation.” Def. Ex. II, ¶ F.

         3. The Settlement Agreement contains a paragraph stating that the Agreement sets forth the entire Agreement between the parties and that there are no additional or supplemental agreements between them related in any way to the matters addressed in the Agreement unless specifically included or referred to in the Agreement. Def. Ex. II, ¶ 12. It also states that, in executing the Agreement, the parties did not rely on any representation or any statement made by any of the parties or by any of the parties' representatives with regard to the subject matter, basis or effect of the Agreement other than those specifically stated in the written Agreement. Def. Ex. II, ¶ 8.

         4. The Settlement Agreement does not contain an express waiver of the right to partition.

         C. Facts Regarding Manner of Partition

         1. Characteristics of the Grass Valley Property a. The Grass Valley Property is roughly 57, 000 square feet. Transcript 501:1-2. The parcel is rectangular in shape. Pl. Ex. 21, pp. 18-26.

         b. The Grass Valley Property has access to one public road to the north, Loma Rica Drive. Transcript 275:22-276:2, 522:3-4, 525:17-24; Pl. Ex. 21, pp. 18-26.

         c. Two commercial buildings are constructed upon the Grass Valley Property. Pl. Ex. 21, p. 19.

         d. 12759 Loma Rica Drive is the mailing address for one of the two buildings on the Grass Valley Property and both the 12757 and 12761 addresses represent the mailing addresses for the second building on the ...


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