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Ash Park, LLC v. Alexander & Bishop, Ltd.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant contracted to purchase land from Plaintiff. After Defendant breached the contract, Plaintiff sued for specific performance, pursuant to their contract. The circuit court found in favor of Plaintiff and awarded specific performance. The court of appeals affirmed. Defendant appealed, and also argues for changes to Wisconsin law on remedies.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Upon a buyer of land’s breach of contract, the seller of the land does not have to demonstrate that a legal remedy would be inadequate before a court awards specific performance.

    Facts.

    Alexander & Bishop, Ltd. (Defendant) contracted to purchase a parcel of land from Ash Park, LLC (Plaintiff). The contract contained a clause allowing the parties to sue for specific performance upon the other party’s breach. Defendant breached the contract.

    Issue.

    Whether, upon the breach of the buyer of land, the seller has to demonstrate that a legal remedy would be inadequate before a court awards specific performance.

    Held.

    No. The court of appeals’ ruling is affirmed. Additionally, the court declines to adopt any of Defendant’s proposed changes to Wisconsin law. Upon a buyer of land’s breach of contract, the seller of the land does not have to demonstrate that a legal remedy would be inadequate before a court awards specific performance.

    Discussion.

    While in some contracts courts will not grant specific performance when a legal remedy is adequate, contracts for sales of land are different. Exceptions to this general rule include impossibility of performance and unfairness or unconscionability of the claim for specific performance. These exceptions are subject to the discretion of courts. However, neither of these exceptions applies here. Specific performance is the preferred remedy in breach of contract for sale of land cases in Wisconsin. The circuit court did not abuse its discretion by finding that specific performance of the contract is both fair and possible. Lack of finances does not amount to impossibility.


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