Sanders v. RileyAnnotate this Case
This case centered on a dispute between appellant Shalanda Sanders (née Riley) and her purported biological half-brother, appellee Curtis Riley over the estate of Clifford "Colonel" Riley, who died without leaving a will. Shalanda claims the right to inherit from Mr. Riley as a child born during the marriage of her mother and Mr. Riley and, alternatively, based on the equitable doctrine known as "virtual adoption." Curtis filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of virtual adoption, arguing that there is insufficient evidence of an agreement by Mr. Riley to adopt Shalanda and the required partial performance of that agreement. The trial court granted Curtis’s motion. In doing so, however, the court did not view the evidence and draw reasonable inferences from it in the light most favorable to Shalanda as the party opposing summary judgment, and genuine issue as to any material fact regarding virtual adoption. The court also misinterpreted the requirement of partial performance of the agreement to adopt and erroneously concluded that an established virtual adoption can be undone by showing that the child formed a relationship with her natural father after she learned of his existence when she was a teenager. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the grant of partial summary judgment to Curtis.