Login

Login

To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library

Add

Search

Login
Register

Hickey v. Green

    Brief Fact Summary. Green (Defendant) orally agreed to sell Plaintiffs a parcel for $15,000.00, and Plaintiffs gave a check for $500.00 as a deposit to Defendant. Then, Defendant told Plaintiffs that she no longer intended to sell her property to Plaintiffs, but that she would sell to another for $16,000.00. Plaintiffs offered to pay the same, but Defendant refused the offer.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. “A contract for the transfer of an interest in land may be specifically enforced notwithstanding failure to comply with the Statute of Frauds if it is established that the party seeking enforcement, in reasonable reliance on the contract, and on the assent of the party against whom enforcement is sought, has so changed his position that injustice can be avoided only by specific enforcement.” Restatement (Second) of Contracts Section:129 (1981).

    Facts. Defendant orally agreed to sell Plaintiffs a parcel for $15,000, and Plaintiffs gave a check for $500 as a deposit to Defendant, with writing on the back of the check indicating that the check was a deposit on a specified lot. The Defendant did not cash the check, and in the meantime, Plaintiffs agreed to sell their home, taking a $500.00 deposit from someone else. Then, Defendant told Plaintiffs that she no longer intended to sell her property to Plaintiffs, but that she would sell to another for $16,000.00. Plaintiffs second offer to buy the property for the increase sales price was refused. The Plaintiffs then filed a complaint for specific performance. The Defendant claimed that the suit was barred by the statute of frauds.

    Issue. Is the suit barred by the statute of frauds?

    Held. No. The case is remanded to determine the remedy.
    The rule applicable is that “[a] contract for the transfer of an interest in land may be specifically enforced notwithstanding failure to comply with the Statute of Frauds if it is established that the party seeking enforcement, in reasonable reliance on the contract, and on the assent of the party against whom enforcement is sought, has so changed his position that injustice can be avoided only by specific enforcement.” Restatement (Second) of Contracts Section:129 (1981).
    The court noted that the more recent decisions indicated a trend on the courts’ part to find that the circumstances, rather than the requirement of change of possession or full payment of the purchase price, indicate part performance.
    The actions taken by the Plaintiffs with regard to entering into a contract for the sale of their home in reliance on the purchase of the Defendant’s lot are indicative of reasonable reliance, which gives rise to estoppel.
    Because the evidence showed that the Plaintiffs had not yet been required to sell their home, the court held that the case must be remanded to determine the remedy. If the Plaintiffs are forced to sell their home, then specific performance will be appropriate, however, if the Plaintiffs are not forced to sell their home, then Defendant will be liable for the cost of advertising the Plaintiffs’ home for sale, the deposits, and reasonable costs of this litigation.

    Discussion. Note that the Restatement section referenced above is the doctrine of part performance. The concept is the same, but the analysis is a bit different. Here there was no requirement that the Plaintiffs actually take possession. The court was satisfied that their change in circumstances, together with the writings on the backs of the checks and other circumstances such as the timeline, indicated the existence of a promise.


    Create New Group

      Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following