Sunday, November 24, 2013

Botticello v. Stefanovicz case brief

Botticello v. Stefanovicz case brief summary
411 A.2d 16 (1979)

Defendants, joint property owners (owners), appealed a judgment from the Superior Court in New London County (Connecticut) that was rendered for plaintiff lessee in his action for specific performance of to compel conveyance of the owners' land in accordance with the terms of a lease and option-to-purchase agreement signed by one of the owners.

The owners, a husband and wife, each held an undivided one-half interest in a farm. The husband executed a lease with an option to purchase with the lessee. After taking possession and making improvements to the land, the lessee exercised the option to buy. The owners refused to honor the agreement and in the lessee's subsequent suit for specific performance, the trial court compelled the owners to convey the land to the lessee.


  • On appeal, the court ruled that trial court's finding were wholly insufficient to support its conclusion that the husband acted as the wife's authorized agent in the discussions concerning the sale and in the execution of the contract. 
  • Moreover, the court ruled, there was no evidence that the wife ratified the underlying contract. 
  • Thus, the court ruled, the wife was not bound by the agreement and she could not be forced to convey her interest. 
  • The court then ruled that the husband could contract on behalf of himself and that the contract did not violate the statute of frauds. 
  • A new trial was necessary, however, because the lessee was entitled either to the husband's defective title or damages, but not specific performance as to the wife's interest.

The court reversed the judgment as to the non-signatory owner and directed the trial court to enter judgment in her favor. The court ordered a new trial on the issue of relief with respect to the judgment against the other owner.

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