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Hoffman v. Chapman

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Joseph Hoffman (Appellees) and his wife agreed to sell to William Chapman and his wife (Appellants) a part of Lot 4 containing a bungalow.  However, the deed actually conveyed the entire lot, and the Chapmans refused to deed back the unsold part.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    .  A court of equity will reform a written instrument to make it conform to the real intention of the parties, the evidence is so clear, strong and convincing as to leave no reasonable doubt that a mutual mistake was made to the instrument contrary to their agreement.  

    Facts.

    The Chapmans clearly understood that they were purchasing only a part of Lot 4 when they made final payment and took possession of the property.  However, when the Hoffmans discovered the mistake some time later, the Chapmans refused to reconvey the unsold parcel back.

    The lower court issued a decree reforming the deed, and the Chapmans appealed.

    Issue.

    Should the deed have been reformed where there was a mutual mistake, conveying more property than was bargained for?

    Held.

    Yes.  Affirmed, as it was beyond doubt that a mutual mistake was made in the description of the property. 

    Dissent.

    None

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    Where there is no mistake as to the identity of the property, but merely an incorrect description, whether conveying too much property or too little, the court will correct the description, except against a bona fide purchaser for value.  The parties made a bilateral mistake, and the deed was to be corrected.


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