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Rector v. Tatham

November 21, 2008

MARY RECTOR, APPELLANT,
v.
CLIFFORD TATHAM, PATRICIA DISQUE, AND RUTH STRICKLAND, APPELLEES.



Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 38 Kan. App. 2d 933, 174 P.3d 445 (2008). Appeal from Douglas district court; JACK A. MURPHY, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. When a district court has granted a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, an appellate court must accept the facts alleged by the plaintiff as true, along with any inferences that can reasonably be drawn therefrom. The appellate court then decides whether those facts and inferences state a claim based on plaintiff's theory or any other possible theory. If so, the dismissal by the district court must be reversed.

2. Kansas law recognizes the validity of assignments of expectancy interests and Kansas courts' enforcement of them, as long as such assignments are fair, supported by consideration, not induced by fraud, and clearly indicative of the intention of the parties.

3. An assignment of an expectancy interest may be made in a settlement agreement among heirs entered into before the death of a testator.

4. Dismissal of this case on the pleadings was inappropriate. If the facts alleged by plaintiff are accepted as true, she may be able to meet her burden of proof on theories of assignment of an expectancy interest and promissory estoppel.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Beier, J.

Judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing and remanding the district court is affirmed. Judgment of the district court is reversed.

This appeal requires us to decide the propriety of the district court's dismissal of plaintiff Mary Rector's lawsuit against her defendant siblings to enforce the terms of a mediated settlement agreement.

The handwritten agreement at issue--evidently arrived at in hope of resolving several ongoing disputes among Rector and her brother, Clifford Tatham, and her sisters, Patricia Disque and Ruth Strickland, regarding their mother's care and assets, including competing actions for guardianship and conservatorship--stated in pertinent part:

"3. [Plaintiff] agrees to purchase the home from her mother for $89,000. [Plaintiff] will assume the existing mortgage and pay her mother $42,900. If [plaintiff cannot] raise the $42,900, the home will be placed on the market and sold. The [proceeds] of sale will be held for [mother].

"4. [The parties agree] that the personal property will be sold. Costs of the appraisal and sale will be deducted from the sale of the personal property. The means of the sale will be by auction. . . .

"5. The parties agree that they will request the court to appoint Mike Davies as conservator of the assets of [mother]. The parties agree to petition to terminate the conservatorship once the assets have been collected and accounting has been made.

"6. The parties agree that the conservatorship and its successor arrangement will provide that in the event [mother] dies and funds remain, that the remaining ...


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