APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. SAMUEL
B. EPSTEIN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE MCGLOON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied March 1, 1977.
Plaintiff, Joseph Bobin, brought this action in equity seeking the reconveyance of the beneficial interest in a certain land trust. After hearing all of the evidence, the trial court ordered that plaintiff's amended complaint be dismissed for want of equity and plaintiff now appeals.
Plaintiff contends on appeal that the trial court erred in ruling that plaintiff's claim was barred by unclean hands and laches and in thus ordering his claim dismissed for want of equity.
In dismissing plaintiff's amended complaint the trial court filed a lengthy memorandum opinion containing numerous findings of fact, many of which are essentially undisputed and clearly supported by the record. We will first set forth these facts and then proceed to the testimony of the various witnesses which illustrates the disputed questions of fact.
On April 24, 1950, plaintiff, Joseph Bobin, purchased a 20-acre tract of farm land known as the Gary Road Farm. Plaintiff purchased this property with $12,000 of his own funds and took title in the name of his wife, Mildred Bobin. Approximately three years after its purchase, the Gary Road Farm was placed in a land trust with Pioneer Trust & Savings Bank as trustee and with Joseph Bobin as the sole beneficiary.
Several years later, in 1959, plaintiff injured six people in a serious automobile accident and these people filed suit against plaintiff. All of these suits terminated in a negotiated settlement in which Joseph Bobin's insurance company paid the $20,000 coverage limit and Joseph Bobin paid $7,500 out of his own funds.
Two years after the settlement of the above claims, on March 28, 1962, plaintiff assigned to Irma Tauber, plaintiff's niece and defendant in the instant cause, the entire beneficial interest in the Gary Road Farm. At approximately the same time as the above assignment of the Gary Road Farm, plaintiff and his wife, Mildred Bobin, assigned to Irma Tauber the beneficial interest in their home on Harding Avenue in Chicago (hereinafter referred to as the Harding Avenue property).
In the years that followed the assignment of the beneficial interest in the Gary Road Farm, the plaintiff continued in possession of the farm, made permanent improvements and necessary repairs at substantial expense, paid the taxes, utilities and insurance for the farm and continued to collect the rents and profits from the farm. The defendants did not request nor did they receive an accounting from the plaintiff of the operation of the farm. In fact, defendants, Irma Tauber and her husband Richard Tauber, never visited the farm prior to 1968. In 1968, however, while plaintiff Joseph Bobin was hospitalized for several months, Richard Tauber took over the management of the farm at the request of plaintiff.
Similarly, from the date of the assignment of the beneficial interest in the Harding Avenue property to Irma Tauber, plaintiff and his wife continued to occupy the Harding Avenue property, paid the taxes and other expenses and made repairs and improvements on the home without paying any rent or accounting to the defendants.
In 1968 Mildred Bobin sued Joseph Bobin for divorce. In his sworn deposition, taken on August 29, 1968 in connection with the divorce proceedings, Joseph Bobin stated under oath as follows: that he owed his brother Leo Bobin (the father of Irma Tauber) and the Taubers money around the time of the Korean War when he started an automobile business; that Leo Bobin and the Taubers assisted him financially and he could not repay them; that in order to settle the personal injury claims against him in 1962 they advanced him over $10,000; and that in order to repay them Joseph Bobin sold them the Harding Avenue property. In the same sworn deposition in the divorce case, Joseph Bobin stated that Irma Tauber owned the Gary Road Farm and that he claimed no interest in that farm, that he maintained the farm, paid the insurance on it and in return Irma let him keep 14 of his horses on the farm.
Concurrently with the filing of her complaint for divorce, Mildred Bobin sued Irma Tauber for the return of the beneficial interest in the Harding Avenue property. In answer to interrogatories Irma Tauber maintained that the assignment of the beneficial interest in the Harding Avenue home was in payment for monies advanced by her father, Leo Bobin, to Joseph Bobin to help settle Joseph Bobin's personal injury suit. In 1968, the suit for divorce was dismissed, Joseph Bobin and his wife were reconciled and Irma Tauber reassigned to Mildred Bobin the beneficial interest in the Harding Avenue property.
The trial court further indicated in its memorandum opinion that the instant suit was initiated on April 29, 1971, that shortly thereafter, on May 27, 1971, Leo Bobin was adjudicated ...