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Real Property –  Contract – Family Settlement Agreement – Ambiguity – Constructive Trust

Real Property –  Contract – Family Settlement Agreement – Ambiguity – Constructive Trust

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The parties are three of seven Jordanian brothers; plaintiffs alleged an express trust in favor of plaintiff Ahmad El-Hatto and sought a constructive trust in favor of plaintiff Maher El-Hatto over residential property in Cumberland County. The basis for plaintiffs’ claims was an agreement, written in Arabic and translated into English, entered into among the brothers after their father’s death. We agree with the trial court that the terms of the agreement are vague, ambiguous and inconsistent. Moreover, the agreement does not expressly identify the Cumberland County property and does not control the disposition of the property or the condemnation proceeds of defendant’s settlement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

We affirm judgment for defendant.

The agreement purported to aggregate and divide the seven brothers’ assets; however, the court noted, “To date, the brothers . . . have not executed [the transfers called for in the agreement,] and it appears that the deadline for compliance has passed.” The trial court correctly determined there was insufficient evidence of fraud, breach of duty or any other circumstances to make it inequitable for defendant to retain the Cumberland County property.

El-Hatto v. El-Hatto (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-429-22, 18 pp.) (April Wood, J.) Appealed from Cumberland County Superior Court (Gale Adams, J.) Gregory Whitley for plaintiffs; Jose Coker and Jonathan Charleston for defendant. 2022-NCCOA-691

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