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Brown v. Baldi

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

May 19, 2017

Ronald and Gail Brown
John A. Baldi Opinion No. 2017 DNH 095

          John A. Baldi, pro se

          John P. Fagan, Esq.


          Paul Barbadoro United States District Judge.

         Ronald and Gail Brown have applied for a writ of scire facias in an effort to collect on a 2007 judgment against John Baldi.[1]

         I. FACTS[2]

John and Catherine Baldi at one time jointly owned land in Epsom, New Hampshire that abutted property owned by Raymond and Beryl Dow. In 1995, the Dows orally agreed to transfer part of their land (the “24-Acre Parcel”) to the Baldis in exchange for the Baldis' agreement to allow the Dows to cut trees on a portion of the Baldis' property. The parties agreed to make the transfer by means of a boundary line adjustment. A plan depicting the proposed boundary line adjustment was subsequently approved by the Epsom Planning Board and filed in the Registry of Deeds on May 18, 1995. Although no deed effecting the transfer was prepared at that time, the Baldis thereafter paid all property taxes on the 24-Acre Parcel and treated it as their own in all respects.

         Several years later, on November 2, 2004, Baldi recorded a deed conveying his interest in the 24-Acre Parcel to his wife for nominal consideration. More than ten years later, on June 13 2015, Baldi obtained a quitclaim deed from the Dows purportedly transferring any interest the Dows had in the 24-Acre Parcel to the Baldis as joint tenants. Baldi has explained that he obtained the deed to remove any uncertainty as to his wife's ownership of the 24-Acre Parcel.

         I held a hearing on the Browns' motion for writ of scire facias on January 24, 2017. Baldi appeared at the hearing and presented several arguments as to why the renewed writ of execution should not issue. I rejected all of his arguments except his claim that the writ should not issue because he did not have an ownership interest in the property that the Browns are targeting with their request.[3]


         Writs of execution are authorized by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 69(a)(1), which provides that the procedure on execution in federal court to collect a monetary judgment ordinarily “must accord with the procedure of the state where the court is located.” New Hampshire law states that writs of execution may be awarded more than two years after a judgment issues “upon scire facias for the amount then due.” N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 527:7. “Scire facias is a judicial writ directing a judgment debtor to appear and show cause why, after the lapse of the limitation period, execution against him should not be revived.” McBurney v. Shaw, 148 N.H. 248, 251 (2002) (emphasis omitted). I therefore evaluate the Browns' motion using the scire facias process specified in New Hampshire law.

         III. ANALYSIS

         The principal question in this case is whether Baldi currently has an interest in the 24-Acre Parcel that can be the target of a writ of execution.[4] Unsurprisingly, the parties have different perspectives on the issue. Baldi argues that the Dows gave up their interest in the 24-Acre Parcel in 1995 when they agreed to the boundary line adjustment plan. At that point, Baldi claims, he and his wife owned the property as joint tenants. As Baldi sees it, he conveyed his interest in the property to his wife in 2004 and the 2015 Quitclaim Deed did not give him any new interest in the property because, at that point, the Dows had no interest in the property to convey. The Browns contend that the Dows did not surrender their ownership interest in the 24-Acre Parcel in 1995 because the conveyance was never completed through the delivery and acceptance of a properly drafted deed. Accordingly, the Browns argue that Baldi did not obtain an interest in the 24-Acre Parcel until the Dows deeded him that interest in 2015. Because Baldi still holds that interest, the Browns argue, it is an appropriate target for their attempt to collect on their judgment.

         New Hampshire law favors the Browns on this specific point. Although the Dows attempted to convey the 24-Acre Parcel by means of a boundary line agreement, the statute authorizing boundary line agreements permits them only when the location of a boundary line is in genuine dispute. See N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 472:1, 4. As the leading treatise on the subject notes, “[a] boundary line agreement is a clarification of existing property rights - not an agreement to adjust a boundary to a more preferable configuration, or a swap of a part of one property for part of another.” 17-10 Charles Szypszak, New Hampshire Practice: Real Estate § 10.01 (2017).

         What the Baldis and the Dows attempted to accomplish was a conveyance. Real estate, however, must be conveyed by a written deed. See N.H. Re v. Stat. Ann. §§ 477:1, 15. In contrast, an oral conveyance, which is what occurred here, gives the beneficiary only an estate at will. See N.H. Re v. Stat. Ann. ยง 477:15. Thus, the parties' 1995 oral agreement to transfer the 24-Acre Parcel from the Dows to the Baldis was not completed until the 2015 Quitclaim Deed was issued. Before then, the Dows retained their ownership of the 24-Acre Parcel subject to both an estate at will benefitting the Baldis and the Baldis' ...

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