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Jones v. Lee

    Brief Fact Summary. The plaintiffs enter into a purchase and sale agreement for a price of $610,000 for their home.  The buyers seek to terminate the contract, and the sellers are forced to sell at $540,000, a difference in contract price of $70,000 originally agreed to by the original buyers.  The sellers sue for breach of contract.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.  When a buyer breaches a contract for a purchase and sale agreement “the sellers may (1) seek relief in equity for rescission, (2) offer to perform and bring an action for specific performance, or (3) elect to retain the realty and file suit seeking an award of damages. Where a party elects to sue for damages resulting from a breach of land sale contract, the burden is on that party to present competent evidence to support such claim for damages.”

    Facts. The plaintiffs enter into a purchase and sale agreement for a price of $610,000 for their home.  The buyers seek to terminate the contract, and the sellers are forced to sell at $540,000, a difference in contract price of $70,000 originally agreed to by the original buyers.  The sellers sue for breach of contract.  It is revealed by the courts that the buyers had approximately $577,000 in a checking account and earned income of more than $16,000 per month, plus bonuses and had the funds to complete the sale.  The Buyers’ failure to complete the sale was “wanton, utterly reckless and in utter disregard of their contractual obligations, and was sufficient to warrant the imposition of punitive damages.” 

    Issue. Whether the sellers are entitled to a claim of damages for the failure of the buyer to complete a purchase and sale agreement.

    Held. The trial court properly held that damages including special and punitive damages may be awarded in a breach of contract for a purchase and sale agreement upon a showing of sufficient evidence by the party electing to sue for such damages, and in this case the defendants were entitled to such damages.

    Discussion.
    Discussion:  The Sellers also presented evidence that the interest payments on the mortgages totaled $4500 during the time when they continued to try to sell the property, which were damages that were determined by the court to be reasonably foreseeable upon default.
    -The court also held that the cost of warranties were reasonably foreseeable because there was a list of warranties, the costs of which are sometimes borne by the sellers in the contract.


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