The Second Department determined plaintiff’s complaint did not state a cause of action for a constructive trust. Plaintiff alleged she was 50% owner of rental property ostensibly owned by the defendant, her uncle, based upon her uncle’s sharing the rent with plaintiff’s father (now deceased). The Second Department noted that there was no allegation of a promise running from the uncle to the plaintiff, an essential element of a constructive trust. The court further noted that plaintiff’s claim she inherited her father’s 50% interest in the property must be adjudicated as part of her father’s estate proceedings:
In general, a constructive trust may be appropriate in situations ” [w]hen property has been acquired in such circumstances that the holder of the legal title may not in good conscience retain the beneficial interest'” … . The necessary elements for imposition of a constructive trust are (1) a confidential or fiduciary relationship, (2) a promise, (3) a transfer in reliance on that promise, and (4) unjust enrichment … .
Here, contrary to the Supreme Court’s determination, the plaintiff’s complaint, as amplified by her affidavit, does not adequately plead a cause of action to impose a constructive trust on the … property. While a confidential relationship exists between the plaintiff and the defendant as uncle and niece, the complaint does not allege the existence of a promise between the plaintiff and the defendant, or a transfer in reliance upon a promise between them.
Further, … the plaintiff’s allegations in support of a theory that she should be deemed a 50% owner of the … property do not adequately plead the elements of a constructive trust. Her claim of entitlement is based on the laws of inheritance, and must be pursued by the executor or administrator of her father’s estate … . Igneri v Igneri, 2015 NY Slip Op 01419, 2nd Dept 2-18-15