Rawlings (Donald) v Rawlings (Arnold)

Donald sued to quiet title in certain land. The district court granted Arnold and the parties’ sibling a constructive trust on the land and this was affirmed by the Court. On remand, the district court granted Arnold and his siblings a default judgment as a sanction for failing to comply with a discovery order and granted Arnold and the other siblings possessory interests in the land. The Court affirmed both the default and the possessory interest order. It held that discovery on remand was proper as the proceeding was bifurcated and the issue of what party was subject to the trust was still open. It further held that by failing to provide discovery even after being held in contempt and assessed attorney fees and then ignoring an order to compel discovery, Donald’s pleadings were properly struck and the default judgment was an appropriate penalty for his obstruction. The Court held that the previous appeal affirming the constructive trust ruling was the law of the case and barred Donald from trying to change the remedy to an equitable lien as constructive trusts (which involve title to property) and equitable liens (which are claims secured by property) are different remedies and the trust remedy was adopted here. It also held the prior appeal barred Donald from challenging the corpus decision as the district court’s finding of conscious wrongdoing was essential to the constructive trust ruling.