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Giannini v. First Nat’l Bank of Des Plaines

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff bought a condominium in a newly built complex area. However, the building where his condominium was located was never designated as a condominium. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant seeking delivery of the condominium unit. The trial court dismissed the complaint because the condominium did not exist. Therefore, the condominium could not be delivered.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A buyer of real property is entitled to specific performance, as a matter of right, of a valid agreement for the sale of real property, unless fraud or oppression is present.

    Facts.

    Plaintiff, Giannini, made an agreement to purchase a condominium in a newly built complex. The complex is composed of many buildings, some buildings that are designated for condominiums and others that are rentals. Plaintiff’s building has not been designated to be a condominium building, even though it was supposed to be. Plaintiff brought suit against First National Bank of Des Plaines, Defendant, who was the record owner of the complex, Stape Builders, Inc, the developer, and United Savings Association, the mortgage holder. After the complaint was filed, Stape Builders was dissolved for failure to pay its franchise taxes. Unity contended that specific performance should not be granted because it would be an economic waste. The trial court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the condominium did not “exist,” and, therefore, could not be given to Plaintiff.

    Issue.

    Whether a buyer of real property may seek specific performance as a matter of right.

    Held.

    Yes, a buyer of real property may seek specific performance as a matter of right.

    Discussion.

    Real property is considered unique, which causes legal remedies to be an inadequate remedy. Thus, when there is a valid contract for the sale of land, absent fraud or oppression, the buyer of the real property is entitled, as a matter of right, to specific performance. Nevertheless, impossibility will excuse specific performance in great and unforeseen circumstances. In this case, Defendant asserts that specific performance would be inappropriate because it would cause Defendant and undue hardship and the property is not unique. However, as the court noted real property is deemed unique. Also, Defendant has failed to prove that it is not unique by showing similarities in the other condominium units. Additionally, the court does not find any hardship because the conversion of the building into a condominium is not a substantial reason to excuse performance. Nevertheless, a legal remedy would not compensate Plaintiff because Stape Builders was involuntarily dissolved. Therefore, the trial court’s ruling is reversed and remanded.


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