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Midfirst Bank v. Sumpter

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

October 8, 2014

MIDFIRST BANK, CAROLYN BEDFORD, AND DENISE BEDFORD, APPELLANTS
v.
LORI LEDBETTER SUMPTER, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. CV-2008-10] HONORABLE VICTOR L. HILL, JUDGE

Harrison and Wynne, JJ., agree. Sheila F. Campbell, P.A., by: Sheila F. Campbell, for appellants Carolyn and Denise Bedford.

Wilson & Asssociates, PLLC, by: H. Keith Morrison, for appellant MidFirst Bank.

Fogleman, Rogers & Coe, by: J. Matthew Coe, for appellee.

DAVID M. GLOVER, JUDGE

We must dismiss the appeal in this case for lack of a final, appealable order. There are separate appeals by appellant MidFirst Bank and appellants Carolyn Bedford and her sister, Denise Bedford, and a conditional cross-appeal by appellee Lori Sumpter. MidFirst argues for reversal of a money judgment against it and in favor of Sumpter. Sumpter has filed a conditional cross-appeal in the event that her judgment against MidFirst is reversed. The Bedfords appeal from the part of the order dismissing their conversion claims against MidFirst and Sumpter.

In July 1986, Carolyn Bedford became the owner of property located in West Memphis, Arkansas. Bedford assumed the indebtedness owed under a deed of trust and note later assigned to MidFirst. The note went into default when the March 2007 payment was not made.

In January 2008, MidFirst filed a judicial foreclosure action against Bedford and other defendants with record-title interests in the property. Service on Bedford was by certified mail, restricted delivery, return-receipt requested. The green card was signed by Bedford's sister, Denise Bedford.

On July 25, 2008, the circuit court entered a decree of foreclosure by default, granting MidFirst a judgment in rem against the property in the principal amount of $25, 679.46, together with interest, fees, and late charges, for a total judgment of $35, 538.88.

The property was offered for public sale on September 15, 2008, and Sumpter purchased the property for $35, 103.46. On October 6, 2008, the circuit court confirmed the sale and approved the Commissioner's Deed to Sumpter. The Commissioner's Deed was dated and recorded the same day.

On October 2, 2008, Sumpter executed a promissory note to Fidelity Bank, secured by a mortgage on the property, for the purpose of financing improvements on the property. The principal amount of the note was $62, 250. In November 2008, she leased the property.

On October 15, 2008, Carolyn Bedford moved to set aside the foreclosure decree for insufficient service of the complaint. She alleged that the service of process of the summons and complaint by certified mail was improper because it was signed for by Denise Bedford.

In August 2009, the circuit court found that service of the foreclosure complaint was defective and set aside the default judgment, vacated the foreclosure sale, voided the Commissioner's Deed, and ordered that possession be returned to Carolyn Bedford within sixty days. Sumpter unsuccessfully sought to have the order modified so that Bedford would not regain possession until she paid the value of the improvements, as provided by the Betterment Act.[1]

Sumpter sought to have title to the property quieted in her name, and requested damages from Carolyn Bedford and MidFirst. Bedford answered the petition and denied the material allegations. MidFirst responded to Sumpter's pleadings by asserting that the doctrine of caveat emptor applied to bar any relief to Sumpter. Sumpter later amended her petition to seek damages under the Betterment Act in the approximate sum of $60, 000, together with the loss of revenues in the amount of ...


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