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Thompson v. Hansford

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

June 28, 2019

CONNIE THOMPSON, as Conservator for Barbara Hansford Appellee
v.
STACY HANSFORD Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE AKRON MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO No. 18CV07241

          WARNER MENDENHALL and BRIAN UNGER, Attorneys at Law, for Appellant.

          J. REID YODER, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JENNIFER HENSAL, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Stacy Hansford appeals a judgment of the Akron Municipal Court that allowed a writ of restitution to Connie Thompson, conservator of Barbara Hansford. For the following reasons, this Court reverses.

         I.

         {¶2} Barbara Hansford owns a home in Akron where she and her daughter Stacy Hansford lived for many years. In October 2015, Barbara Hansford created a revocable living trust with her as the trustee and her daughter as the successor trustee. The same day, she deeded the Akron home to the trust. A few days later, a doctor diagnosed Barbara Hansford with early-stage dementia.

         {¶3} At some point during the next year, Barbara Hansford moved to Missouri. Stacy Hansford remained living in the Akron home. In December 2016, Barbara Hansford revoked a power of attorney that she had previously signed. A week later she revoked the trust agreement. She subsequently conveyed the Akron home back to herself. In July 2017, a Missouri court appointed Ms. Thompson conservator of Barbara Hansford. Ms. Thompson testified that her responsibility as conservator is to oversee Barbara Hansford's financial interests.

         {¶4} According to Ms. Thompson, after being appointed Barbara Hansford's conservator, Barbara Hansford told her that she would like the Akron home sold. Ms. Thompson testified that, since November 2017, she has paid over $2, 700 in utilities and $5, 500 in property taxes to maintain the home even though Barbara Hansford has no intention of returning to Ohio. She testified that she asked Stacy Hansford to pay the utilities, but Stacy Hansford told her it was too expensive. She, therefore, asked Stacy Hansford to vacate the home. Stacy Hansford refused, claiming that the home still belongs to the trust.

         {¶5} In August 2018, Ms. Thompson filed a complaint for forcible entry, detainer, and other money damages in the Akron Municipal Court, seeking to evict Stacy Hansford from the Akron home. Stacy Hansford counterclaimed, alleging that the property had been fraudulently transferred and seeking to quiet title of the property in the trust. She also moved to transfer the case to the court of common pleas because her counterclaim exceeded the jurisdictional limits of the court. The case proceeded to a hearing before a magistrate. Following the hearing, the magistrate determined that Stacy Hansford failed to establish that Barbara Hansford was incompetent at the time she revoked the trust. He also determined that, even if Barbara Hansford had been incompetent, Stacy Hansford did not have any right to possess the Akron home under the terms of the trust. He further determined that Stacy Hansford's counterclaims did not deprive the municipal court of jurisdiction over Ms. Thompson's forcible entry and detainer action. He, therefore, concluded that a writ should be granted. The municipal court filed a journal entry that same day ordering that a writ of restitution be allowed. Stacy Hansford has appealed, assigning four errors.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE'S DECISION BECAUSE IT WAS IMPROPER FOR THE MUNICIPAL COURT TO RETAIN JURISDICTION OVER, AND SUBSEQUENTLY DISPOSE OF, CLAIMS EXCEEDING ITS JURISDICTION RATHER THAN TRANSFER THE ENTIRE CASE TO THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FOR A FULL ADJUDICATION.

         {¶6} Stacy Hansford argues that the trial court incorrectly proceeded with Ms. Thompson's forcible entry and detainer action even though it did not have jurisdiction over her counterclaims. "A trial court's authority to determine a matter in controversy is a question of law, which this Court reviews ...


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