Summary of Ink v. City of Canton, Supreme Court of OH (1965)
Parties: PL’s are the grantors or the heirs of deceased grantors of two deeds who were conveyed land. DF city is the party which would gain use of the land for the public park.
Cause of action/remedy sought: The following is a cause of action to divide or appropriate monies earned from the sale of all but 6.5 acres of the original 33.5 acres of the tract of land in Canton.
Procedural History: Case originated in Common Pleas Court of Stark County for a declaratory judgment with respect to the rights of the parties in a 33.5 acre tract of land known as Ink Park. Common Pleas Court awarded the whole sum to the city. Court of Appeals affirmed. Supreme Court reversed.
Facts: Land left in two different deeds to different relatives of Harry Ink for land he bought during his lifetime to be used as a public park, with the penalty the 33.5 acre tract of land would be
Issue(s): Under OH property law, may a city who was granted, without cost, a tract of land, be permitted to keep all proceeds from the land when the city sold most of the land granted to it in order to appropriate a highway?
Holding: No. Canton was granted the land by Mr. Ink with the sole purpose of having the land used as a public park, with penalty being the land reverted back to Ink’s heirs. Since the city decided to sell off most of the land to appropriate the highway, they should not be entitled to receive profit from land they got free in the first place, however they should be reimbursed for costs associated with structures on the land.
Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: Previous case law suggested that a grantee who receives something for nothing with the proviso that what they are getting must be used for something specific should hold fast to that clause. There is a blatant attempt to make money here by the City of Canton on a gift, in essence. This is based on reasonable determination, along with previous case law.
There is another factor, as the land was documented by the grantor Mr.Ink to be used specifically as a park, giving the City a fiduciary responsibility to see this through. Since they did not, they were negligent in their responsibility by failing to adhere to its duty. If the land were to become endangered for any reason (volcano, landslide, weather, changing conditions, etc.), the proceeds from the land would be divided up in half, according to what recent case law tells us. But, because the grantee received the land for free they are to divide up whatever profits they made for the highway appropriation, minus any costs incurred to build on the land when the whole 33.5 acres was a park.
Rule: Where property is conveyed free of fee from conveyor with a proviso that it be used only for a specified use with penalty the property reverts back to the heirs of the original purchaser of the land, those heirs may receive whatever the full value of the land is minus any costs the grantee incurred while in possession of the tract of land.
Did court avoid issues?: N/A.
Dicta: If the land were to become endangered at any time, the proceeds could be split in half between the grantee and the heirs of the maker of the deed.