JANE LIPSCOMB STONE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF MADOLENE STONE, DECEASED; BENJAMIN HICKS STONE III; RUTH STONE JONES; MARGARET STONE COTTER; HARRIET STONE EVANS; PATRICIA MARTY STONE; EDWARD DURELL STONE III; MARIA FRANCESCA STONE; FIONA CAMBPELL STONE; AND MATTHEW WHELPLEY APPELLANTS
WASHINGTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER AND CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS APPELLEES
FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. CIV2014-1288-1]
HONORABLE CRISTI BEAUMONT, JUDGE
Ledbetter, Cogbill, Arnold & Harrison, LLP, by: R. Ray
Fulmer, Victor L. Crowell, and Joseph Karl Luebke, for
J. Olmstead and Andrew C. Cozart, for appellee Washington
Regional Medical Center.
Williams and Blake Pennington, for appellee City of
DAN KEMP, Chief Justice
Jane Lipscomb Stone, individually and as executrix of the
estate of Madolene Stone, deceased; Benjamin Hicks Stone III;
Ruth Stone Jones; Margaret Stone Cotter; Harriet Stone Evans;
Patricia Marty Stone; Edward Durell Stone III; Maria
Francesca Stone; Fiona Campbell Stone, and Matthew Whelpley
("Stone heirs") appeal two orders of the Washington
County Circuit Court quieting title to Fayetteville property
in Washington Regional Medical Center ("WRMC") and
granting summary judgment in favor of WRMC. For reversal, the
Stone heirs present six allegations of error. We affirm.
September 8, 1906, Stephen K. Stone and Amanda Stone
("the Stones"), the original grantors, conveyed to
the City of Fayetteville ("City") a block of
property upon which to build a hospital. Their warranty deed
("the 1906 Deed") contained a reversionary clause
in favor of the Stones or their heirs. This reversionary
interest would trigger if the City failed to have a hospital
constructed upon the property and in operation within four
years from September 8, 1906, or if the property should at
any time not be used and maintained for hospital purposes.
The 1906 Deed further established a Board of Control to
manage the hospital.
Stones amended their 1906 Deed by filing a second deed
("the 1909 Deed") on February 24, 1909. The 1909
Deed recited that its stated purpose was to revise
"certain conditions providing for a reversion of the
premises which may tend to retard the establishment and
maintenance of said hospital." The 1909 Deed recognized
the City's failure to adhere to the terms of the first
deed and added a condition that if the hospital's
location changed, the proceeds of the property would
constitute a charitable trust for the maintenance of the
hospital at a new location.
1912, the hospital opened as Stone Hospital. In 1914, that
hospital reorganized as Fayetteville City Hospital
("FCH") and operated as a charitable corporation.
On April 30, 1914, the Washington County Circuit Court
entered a decree approving certain articles of association of
FCH, which was the successor to the Board of Control. These
articles incorporated the terms of the 1909 Deed. From 1906
to 1978, the City owned and held legal title to the FCH
property. In 1978, the City conveyed the property to FCH by
resolution of the city council. In 1991, FCH conveyed the
property by quitclaim deed back to the City, and FCH
continued to operate the facility.
2010, the City offered $172, 500 to WRMC for a one-acre piece
of property to construct a roundabout to ease traffic
congestion. Thomas J. Olmstead, WRMC's general counsel,
responded by sending a memorandum to the City expressing a
desire to acquire the property and offered to exchange the
roundabout site for the trust property. WRMC and the City
agreed to the land swap. The City conveyed the FCH property
to WRMC, and WRMC conveyed an acre of its property to the
City for the construction of the roundabout.
15, 2014, WRMC filed a petition to quiet title in the FCH
property. In its petition, WRMC claimed to be the legal owner
of the property after having acquired fee-simple title from
the City by quitclaim deed and filed of record. WRMC alleged
that it had been in continuous and exclusive possession and
use of the property with no adverse occupants since October
13, 2013. The Stone heirs responded that title should be
quieted in them because the City had failed to establish and
operate the Stone Hospital pursuant to the terms of the
charitable trust and that the City's actions constituted
a rejection of the trust. The Stone heirs also asserted a
counterclaim for breach of trust, sought to quiet title, and
moved to dismiss WRMC's petition for failure to join
indispensable parties. The circuit court denied the Stone
heirs' motion to dismiss and found that the City was an
indispensable party to the action.
and the City moved for summary judgment. Following a hearing,
the circuit court granted WRMC's motion for summary
judgment, quieted title in WRMC, dismissed with prejudice the
Stone heirs' counterclaim, granted the City's motion
for summary judgment, and dismissed with prejudice the Stone
heirs' cross-claim against the City. The circuit court
ruled as a matter of law that the 1906 and 1909 Deeds were
clear and unambiguous and that WRMC had satisfied the
elements of a quiet-title action. Additionally, in its decree
quieting title, the circuit court ruled that WRMC had
acquired fee-simple title from the City and was the legal
owner of the property; that WRMC had been in continuous and
exclusive occupancy, possession, and control of the property
since 2011; that the requisite statutory notices had been
properly served; and that WRMC had met the requirements to
quiet title pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated sections
18-60-501 to -511 (Repl. 2015).
Stone heirs appealed the circuit court's orders to the
court of appeals, which affirmed. Stone v. Washington
Reg'l Med. Ctr., 2016 Ark.App. 236, 490 S.W.3d 669.
The Stone heirs filed a petition for review, which we
granted. When we grant a petition for review, we treat the
appeal as if it had been originally filed in this court.
Moore v. Moore, 2016 Ark. 105, 486 S.W.3d 766.
appeal, the Stone heirs present six allegations of error. We
discuss them in tandem as (1) whether the language in the
1906 and 1909 Deeds created a trust property reverting back
to the Stone heirs; (2) whether the Stone heirs had standing
to assert any interest in the property; (3) whether WRMC met
its burden of proof in its ...