When Marianne Whitley and Dennis DeAcetis got divorced in 2003, Whitley got the house. Or at least she thought she did, with good reason. After all, it was so ruled by the judge in their divorce case, and DeAcetis had not disputed the property settlement.
But according to an opinion published by Texas's 14th Court of Appreals, DeAcetis apparently had another stratagem in mind. He simply stayed put. And stayed and stayed, his blasé disregard for the ruling and authority of the family law court kind of reminding us of Stalin's crack about the Vatican: "The Pope! How many divisions has he got?"
Whitley would be forced to show her obstinate ex that the ruling was enforceable. At no little expense...
First she hired attorney Rodney Wiseman, promising the lawyer that she would sign over a portion of the proceeds of the home's eventual sale equal to his fees. Which sucks, but at least he got results. In the justice court, Wiseman won an order for enforcement of the divorce decree and successfully prosecuted a forcible detainer action against DeAcetis, but still DeAcetis remained immovable as the Taliban in their bleak mountain fastnesses. The dude just would not give up.
Until, that is, he was finally jailed for contempt of the divorce court's order and held until he cried "Uncle," which took the form of a promise to vacate the house and execute all documents necessary to provide Whitley a clear title.
In March of 2005, two years after the divorce agreement was signed, Whitley was at last able to sell the house to a couple named Gary, who in turn sold the house a year later to a woman named Fonke. It seemed the much-disputed home had found its way into the Great American Housing Sale Orgy of the Mid-Aughties.
But DeAcetis was not done yet. Far from it.
And we think we detect just a hint of exasperated humor in the synopsis of the case in the official ruling from the Court of Appeals, which we will quote verbatim:
DeAcetis sued them all: his two children [In brief, DeAcetis and Whitley held beneficial title to the house; legal title was held by a corporation owned by their two children], his ex-wife, his ex-wife's former attorney, the couple who purchased the property from his ex-wife, and the person to whom that couple subsequently sold the property.
Against Whitley and Wiseman, DeAcetis made the same claims. He asserted that every transaction involving his house since the divorce was void, and thus he was privy to portions of each sale. He claimed that his enemies had perpetrated both common-law and statutory frauds against him, and that he had been the victim of a conspiracy.
To silence this machine-gun fusillade of litigation, Whitley moved for a summary judgment on the ground that ownership of the house was res judicata, meaning it had been settled by the terms of the divorce and was thus no longer up for dispute.
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She won. And DeAcetis was still not done. He appealed, and dragged his ex into court again, where he lost a second time.
And then it was Wiseman's turn to feel DeAcetis's wrath. The attorney took the same res judicata tack, and also won in the lower court. And then had to beat DeAcetis all over again on appeal.
So there you have it; this res had been judicata'd four times over. And still DeAcetis was not done. He bundled up all his alleged oppressors -- one of his kids, his ex, her lawyer, all the people who had bought the house that had been awarded to his wife -- and petitioned the Texas Supreme Court to hear his case against them. In August, they refused, which is where we stand today.
Could this whole thing be over now? Only time will tell...