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Griggs v Miller Case Brief Title of Case: Griggs v. Miller, 374 S.W.2d 119 (Mo. 1963) Parties: 1.

Plaintiff: Griggs bought land at a public sale (wins in trial) 2. Defendant: Miller (wins in end) Facts: 1. The Defendant, Brookshire/Miller (Defendant) appealed from affirmation of a sheriffs execution and sale which sold the Defendants $50,000 property to satisfy a $2,000 judgment 2. The Plaintiff, Griggs (Plaintiff), purchased a 322 acre farm for $20,600 at a public sale under a general execution against the Defendant. Procedural History 1. The Plaintiff sued the Defendant in ejectment for withholding possession of the farm and for damages. The Defendants answer was a general denial and he counterclaimed to set aside the sheriffs execution sale and deed. The court found for the Plaintiff and assessed $2,483.24 in damages for the Defendants withholding of the farm. The decree also stated that the Plaintiff would recover $250 a month from the date of the judgment for so long as the Defendant withheld the farm from the Plaintiff. Miller replaced Brookshire as party-litigant Defendant after Brookshire was incarcerated. 2. Ray Crouch recovered a $1,966.69 judgment from the Defendant Brookshire. A general execution was issued on the date of that judgment to the Sheriff. The Sheriff levied the 322 acre farm and filed notice of the levy on December 14, 1960. On January 11, 1961, the Defendant wrote to the Sheriff limiting the property to be sold. The Sheriff advertised and sold all the real estate at the public sale on January 16, 1961. 3. Dorothy Constable recovered a $17,000 judgment against the Defendant Brookshire on July 29, 1960. A general execution was issued to the Sheriff on January 10, 1961 and he levied upon the Defendants 322 acres on January 11, 1961. The Defendant asserted that the selling of his farm was in error. Issue: Whether it was error to sell the Defendants entire 322 acre farm without attempting to make the judgment debt, interest and costs out of a portion of the farm. Court Holding and Rationale 1. Yes. Defendant is entitled to relief upon his performance of equity. The sheriffs sale and sheriffs deed made to Plaintiff was canceled. The Defendant had thirty days to deposit in court the sum of $20,600. 2. Discussion. Missouri Civil Rule 76.21 stated that if a judgment debtor gives the officer a list of his property sufficient to satisfy the execution, then the officer shall levy upon the property and no other, if in his opinion, it is sufficient. If not, then the officer will levy upon additional property as shall be

sufficient. Civil Rule 76.24 further stated that when an execution is levied upon real estate, the officer levying it shall divide the property and if so, sell as much of it as necessary to satisfy the judgment, unless the debtor desires the whole tract of land or lot to be sold together. The general rule, therefore, was that the execution officer could make a division of the property and if practicable, sell only as much of it as necessary to satisfy the judgment. 3. A sheriff conducting an execution sale is the agent of the property owner and the judgment creditor and his duty is to protect the interests of both and to see that the property is not sacrificed. The Sheriff had testified that he did not know that it was illegal to sell $50,000 worth of property to satisfy a $2,000 judgment. The court noted that the property could have and should have been offered for sale in parcels. There was so great a disparity between the fair market value of the property and the bid price of $2,000, that the execution sale and sheriffs deed had to be set aside. 4. Synopsis of Rule of Law. A judgment debtor is to be afforded reasonable protection in levying on and selling his property under execution. PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant trustee of the estate of the judgment debtor appealed a decision from the Circuit Court of Boone County (Missouri), which ordered that possession of the farm in question be rendered to plaintiff buyer in his ejectment action based upon a judgment execution sale and deed by respondent sheriff. The trustee asserted that it was error to sell the debtor's entire farm to satisfy the debts. OVERVIEW: A creditor recovered a judgment against the debtor, which was affirmed on appeal. A general execution was issued on the judgment to the sheriff, who then levied on the debtor's 322 acre farm by selling the real estate at public sale after filing proper notice of his levy. Another party recovered a judgment against the debtor in a wrongful death action and also levied upon the 322 acre farm. The property was sold at auction to the buyer, who then commenced this action for ejectment and possession. The trial court granted the buyer's prayer and the trustee on behalf of the debtor's estate appealed, asserting that it was error to sell the judgment debtor's entire farm to satisfy the debts. The court reversed the trial court's judgment, holding that it was error for the sheriff to sell the entire farm to satisfy the judgments because the 322 acre farm, consisting of approximately eight forties, could have been offered for sale in parcels. The court concluded that the disparity between the market value of the farm and the bid was considered so great as to require setting aside the execution sale and sheriff's deed. OUTCOME: The court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the cause with directions to cancel the sheriff's sale if the debtor satisfied the debt from other means within 30 days.