Brief Fact Summary.
Taber’s heirs sued for ownership of land claiming that the government had no right to the land after the land ceased being used as a Life Saving Station as required by the landowner.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A fee simple determinable automatically reverts to the grantor after it terminates.
When Taber acquired land to Ocean City, Maryland, Taber devised a portion of the estate to the government to be used as a life saving station. Taber stipulated that once the tract of land ceased being used as a life saving station, the land would return to Taber and his heirs. The government later issued a quitclaim deed that stated the land would no longer be used as a life saving station. Taber’s heirs sued for ownership of the land and the trial court ruled in favor of the heirs. The government appealed.
Whether a fee simple determinable automatically reverts to the grantor after it terminates?
Yes. The trial court’s judgment is affirmed. The original deed that created a fee simple determinable to the government was valid and the government only had a right to the property as long as the property was being used as a life saving station. When the property ceased being used as a life saving station, the property is reverted back to Taber and his heirs.
In other words, if one who has an estate in fee simple creates a determinable fee in another, he has thereafter merely a possibility of reobtaining the land by reason of the occurrence of the indicated contingency.View Full Point of Law
A fee simple determinable occurs when a limitation is created where a fee simple estate expires on the occurrence of an event. The quitclaim deed transferring the property to Ocean City stated that the property was no longer being used as a life saving station and the fee simple determinable thus terminated and automatically reverted to Taber’s heirs.