SAN JOSE — The California Sixth District Court of Appeal recently issued an opinion on three related appeals on a dispute over a property sold at a foreclosure sale in 1998.

On May 25, Justice Conrad L. Rushing and associate justices Eugene M. Premo and Franklin D. Elia ruled on Richard Thompson’s appeals against Michael S. Ioane Sr., Shelly J. Ioane and their adult children Briana, Ashley and Michael Ioane Jr. for a title to a family property, called the Blue Gum property, and relieved the Ioanes from a few claims, including being vexatious litigants.

The argument arose when the real property title in question for Blue Gum property was foreclosed and sold in 1998. Simultaneously, Shelly Ioanes filed for bankruptcy and then filed an adversary proceeding against Bank United with her husband. Still alleging ownership of Blue Gum and claiming that the writ of possession issued and the foreclosure sale were invalid, the couple’s fight failed in in 2000 when the bankruptcy court ruled in favor of Bank United.

Meanwhile, the couple filed a civil suit against Bank United and federal court officials, charging the couple had an interest in the Blue Gum property. But by 2000, “the federal court dismissed the action with prejudice, 'easily conclud[ing] that the present litigation is just one more in a string of frivolous lawsuits filed by the plaintiffs,'” the appeals court said in its ruling.  

They lost the Blue Gum property to Thompson in 2001, and the circuit court said “as a threshold matter, we note that each of appellants’ three appeals was filed prematurely from a non-appealable order before judgment had been entered.”

The Ioanes appealed because according to the vexatious litigant statute, the couple would be prohibited from filing new legal action "in propria persona in the California courts without first obtaining leave of court," according to the appeals court ruling.

The California Sixth District Court of Appeal on remand directed to dismiss the Ioanes as vexatious litigants. Both parties will bear their own costs upon appeal, the panel of judges said.

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