Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
Critchfield Critchfield & Johnston, Ltd., and Monica E.
Russell, for appellee.
Henderson & Schmidlin Co., L.P.A., Timothy L. McGarry,
and Brendan Mewhinney, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
D. CELEBREZZE, JR., J.
1} Defendant-appellant, Anna Chambers
("Chambers"), brings the instant appeal challenging
the trial court's order granting summary judgment in
favor of plaintiff-appellee, Royal Fleet Auto Sales, L.L.C.
("Royal Fleet"). After a thorough review of the
record and law, this court dismisses the appeal.
Factual and Procedural History
2} On June 4, 2015, Royal Fleet filed a complaint in
the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas seeking a
declaratory judgment and an order quieting title against
Chambers in real property located at 7911 Lorain Avenue, in
Cleveland, Ohio ("property"). Royal Fleet also
asserted a claim against the party from which it purchased
the property from, 7911 Lorain Avenue, L.L.C. ("7911
L.L.C."), alleging a breach of warranty deed and a claim
for indemnity. The property consists of a small office
building, a garage, and a parking lot. Chambers's
husband, Richard Chambers, owned and operated Rick's
Trading Post, a used car sales business, on the property.
3} Royal Fleet purchased the property from 7911
L.L.C. on February 3, 2015. Royal Fleet currently operates a
used car lot at 7825 Lorain Avenue, directly adjacent to the
property. Royal Fleet has operated its used car lot since
1998 and is owned by Theodore Siedlecki, Jr.
("Siedlecki"). In the months prior to the February
3rd sale of the property, Siedlecki noticed a "for
sale" sign on the property. The property appeared vacant
to Siedlecki, and he had not observed any business conducted
on the property since 2002. After seeing the "for
sale" sign, Siedlecki contacted his
realtor to inquire as to the owner of the
property. The contact number on the "for sale" sign
was a phone number apparently belonging to Gary Green
("Green"). A title search conducted by
Siedlecki's realtor revealed that 7911 L.L.C. held title
to the property.
4} Thereafter, Siedlecki and his realtor were shown
the property by Green. Green is the owner of 7911 L.L.C. The
purchase price of the property was $85, 000, and Siedlecki
eventually made an offer of $50, 000. Green accepted
Siedlecki's offer of $50, 000, and on January 28, 2015,
Siedlecki, acting on behalf of Royal Fleet, entered into a
purchase agreement to buy the property.
5} The parties used Resource Title National Agency,
Inc. ("title agency") to perform escrow and title
agent duties. The title agency performed a title examination
and this examination also found that 7911 L.L.C. held title
to the property. The title examination also discovered that
7911 L.L.C. had obtained title to the property from Riverside
Castle Hall Company ("Riverside") on December 30,
2014. The deed transferring the property from Riverside to
7911 L.L.C. was signed by Dennis Walker on behalf of
Riverside. The title agency thereafter obtained a certificate
of incumbency that stated that Dennis Walker was the CEO
of Riverside. Green, acting on behalf of 7911 L.L.C, averred
in an affidavit that no other individual had possession of,
or a right to possess, the property. Thereafter, 7911 L.L.C.
and Royal Fleet closed on the transaction on February 3,
2015, and a general warranty deed conveying the property from
7911 L.L.C. to Royal Fleet was filed on the same day.
6} On February 17, 2015, Siedlecki received a letter
from Chambers's attorney stating that Chambers had
purchased the property in the 1980s but "the property
was never transferred into her name on the [c]ounty
[r]ecords." Chambers's attorney further stated that
"the property needs to be transferred to
[Chambers's] name immediately."
7} Thereafter, on June 4, 2015, Royal Fleet filed
its complaint against Chambers and 7911 L.L.C. On July 15,
2015, Chambers filed an answer and counterclaim against Royal
Fleet seeking to quiet title against Royal Fleet and a
declaratory judgment. Chambers brought these claims through
her power of attorney, her son Ken Chambers. 7911 L.L.C.
failed to file an answer and failed to appear in the action.
As a result, Royal Fleet filed a default judgment motion
against 7911 L.L.C. on July 28, 2015. A hearing on the
default judgment motion was set for August 11, 2015. Royal
Fleet and Chambers appeared for the hearing, but 7911 L.L.C.
failed to appear.
8} On August 12, 2015, the magistrate issued an
order granting Royal Fleet's default judgment motion and
ordered Royal Fleet to file a final judicial report. The
magistrate's order also included the following:
After the case was called [for the hearing on the default
judgment motion], and counsel for [Chambers] had left the
building, [Green] the statutory agent for [7911 L.L.C]
appeared. The magistrate went back on the record with [Green,
the] statutory agent and [Royal Fleet's] counsel. [Green,
the] statutory agent advised the ...