Monday, March 5, 2007

LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Reeves (Ct. of Special Appeals)

Filed Marc 2, 2007. Opinion by Judge J. Frederick Sharer.

From the opinion's headnote:

HEADNOTE: LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Reeves
No. 0268, September Term, 2005
Civil Procedure - Jurisdiction - Indian Tribes.
Civil Procedure - Statute of Limitations.
Civil Procedure - Equity- Laches.

After appellant, LaSalle Bank, N.A., sought reformation of a deed of trust which inaccurately described the property that secured said deed, circuit court granted appellee, Elizabeth A. Reeves’, motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the claim was barred by the three-year statute of limitations. On appeal, appellant sought a determination of whether the court erred in applying the statute of limitations for civil actions rather than the equitable doctrine of laches.

Appellee raised the issue of jurisdiction and immunity because, prior to her default, she executed and recorded a quitclaim deed conveying any interest she held in the subject property to the Delaware Tribe. Although certain Indian tribes are immune from state court jurisdiction, at the time of the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment, the Delaware Tribe was not a federally recognized tribe and had been subsumed into the Cherokee Nation. Thus, the Cherokee Nation was a necessary party to the instant declaratory judgment action and remand was required.

For the guidance of the circuit court on remand, we noted that because appellant’s amended complaint contained allegations sufficient to sustain an action for reformation, their prayer for relief could properly be construed as a request for equitable relief. Since appellee was sufficiently on notice of the cause of action, appellant’s complaint for declaratory relief did not limit the circuit court to the application of statutory limitations, to the exclusion of laches.

The opinion is available in PDF format.

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