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Cuevas v. Barraza

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

February 11, 2014

Wilfrido CUEVAS, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Bernardino BARRAZA, Defendant-Appellant, and Liobaldo Garza; Does I through X, Unknown Claimants to the Real Property Described in Exhibit

Page 953

Hall, Friedly & Ward, Mountain Home. Robert W. Ward argued for appellant.

Rebecca A. Rainey, Boise, argued for respondent.

EISMANN, Justice.

This is an appeal out of Canyon County from the grant of a summary judgment dismissing a claim seeking to enforce a vendee's lien in real property. Because the appellant only addressed on appeal one of two possible grounds upon which the district court granted summary judgment, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

I.

Factual Background.

Juan Cuevas and Yrene Baez were co-owners of a house located in Canyon County. In March 2001, Juan Cuevas signed a handwritten agreement to sell the house to Bernardino Barraza for the sum of $80,000. Mr. Barraza moved onto the property and asserts that he paid $22,635 toward the purchase price. Juan Cuevas later asked Mr. Barraza to vacate the property and promised to pay him $20,000 upon a later sale of the property. Mr. Barraza agreed and vacated the property. On May 6, 2002, Mr. Barraza recorded a claim of lien in the amount of $20,000 on the property. The form he used was a preprinted form with blanks to be filled in. Although it appeared to be a form intended for a mechanic's or materialman's lien, he typed into a blank a statement indicating that the lien was for " unpaid refund in the amount $20,000.00 for the payments on Real estate Title."

In August 2003, Wilfrido Cuevas moved onto the property and began purchasing it pursuant to an oral agreement with Juan Cuevas and Yrene Baez to buy it for $80,000. He asserts that he made improvements to the property and began paying at least $800 per month toward the purchase price.

On April 2, 2007, Juan Cuevas and Yrene Baez filed a quiet title action against Mr. Barraza, and on May 15, 2007, they obtained

Page 954

a default judgment quieting their title to the property. Mr. Barraza filed a motion to set aside the judgment on May 24, 2007, which the district court denied. [1] Mr. Barraza appealed.

Wilfrido Cuevas asserts that on June 13, 2007, he paid the balance owing on his purchase of the property. On the same date, Juan Cuevas and Yrene Baez executed a quitclaim deed transferring the property to Wilfrido Cuevas, and the deed was recorded on June 20, 2007.

On June 24, 2008, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion reversing the district court's decision refusing to set aside the default judgment against Mr. Barraza in the quiet title action that had been filed by Juan Cuevas and Yrene Baez. Cuevas v. Barraza, 146 Idaho 511, 198 P.3d 740 (2008). The case was remanded, and counsel for the plaintiffs in that case withdrew. When they failed to appear in their own behalf or to appear by substitute counsel, a default judgment was entered in favor of Mr. Barraza quieting his title to the property.

When Wilfrido Cuevas attempted to pay the real property taxes on the property on June 12, 2009, he learned of the judgment that had been entered in the other lawsuit and that he no longer held title to the property. On August 7, 2009, he filed this quiet title action against Mr. Barraza. The district court granted summary judgment to Wilfrido Cuevas on the grounds that Mr. Barraza failed to establish a valid claim to the property and that he did not unjustly enrich Wilfrido Cuevas. On appeal, we held that there was an issue of fact as to whether Mr. Barraza had a vendee's lien, and we vacated that judgment. Cuevas v. Barraza, 152 Idaho 890, 277 P.3d 337 (2012). We stated in the opinion: " This ...


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