Case Caption: Victor v. TodmanCase Number: SCT-CIV-2018-0045Date: 04/02/2024Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: 2024 VI 18Summary: In an appeal challenging a February 21, 2018 judgment of the Superior Court awarding appellant one-half undivided interest in a parcel of land on St. Thomas, arguing that he is entitled to a larger share of the property and generally challenging the distribution of ownership and mortgage liability between himself and appellee, who cross-appeals, this Court affirms in part and reverses in part the judgment below, and remands the case to the trial court for the taking of further evidence and further determination of the equitable distribution of the property and the mortgage debt on that property. A duly acknowledged and recorded deed gives rise to a presumption of validity that the challenging party must overcome with clear and convincing evidence. Here the Superior Court’s findings are supported by the evidence, because there was testimonial and documentary evidence corroborating the defendant’s testimony, and the Superior Court as finder of fact was responsible for all credibility determinations, the defendant established a claim of fraud in the inducement to execute the quitclaim dead, and, as a matter of law, her reliance and trust in plaintiff was reasonable. Defendant’s actions were reasonable in light of the long-standing, family relationship she and plaintiff had established, and her lack of ability to read English and understand complex transactions. The Superior Court’s allocation of the mortgage debt was legally incorrect and factually clearly erroneous. The portion of the Superior Court’s judgment placing the burden of the entire mortgage on defendant was an obvious abuse of discretion. Therefore, in this regard, the judgment of the Superior Court is reversed, and on remand the Superior Court is directed, after taking further evidence as to actual contributions and appropriately valuing support contributions, to enter a revised judgment.

There still remains the task of actually determining the equities as to how much of the mortgage encumbers the parties’ respective one-half interests. Therefore, the judgment of the Superior Court is vacated and the matter is remanded for determination of how much the defendant’s half interest in the property should be burdened, if at all, by the mortgage.
Attachment: Open Document or Opinion