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Woollums v. Horsley

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary.

    John Woollums (Appellant), who was elderly and infirmed and lived upon his mountain farm of 200 acres, entered into a contract with W.J. Horsley (Appellee), a savy businessman, to sell the farm for far less than it was worth.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A contract ought not to be carried into specific performance unless it is just and fair in all respects. 

    Facts.

    Horsley was an experienced businessman who was buying mineral rights in the area in mass quantity.  Horsley entered into a contract to purchase mineral rights to the Woollums’ land for 40 cents per acre, and set up a payment plan. 

    No payment was made because the quantity of land was unknown and Woollums refused to survey it.  Woollums refused to convey the land, and Horsley brought a suit for specific performance.  The lower court ordered specific execution of the contract.   

    Issue.

    Was Horsley entitled to specific performance?

    Held.

    No.  Reversed and remanded.

    ·         The contract was not equitable or reasonable, or grounded upon sufficient consideration, and no interest had arisen in any third party.  

    Dissent.

    None.

    Concurrence.

    None.

    Discussion.

    ·         The contract was for 40 cents and acre when the land was worth $15 an acre.

    ·         Horsley’s agent received $80 as his pay for securing the contract, which was all Woollums was to get under the contract for all he sold. 

    ·         Equity will not help out such a harsh bargain.


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