Monday, November 25, 2013

Burns v. McCormick case brief

Burns v. McCormick case brief summary
135 N.E. 273 (N.Y. 1922)

Defendant heirs appealed a decision entitling plaintiff caretakers to possession of decedent's residential property from the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, Fourth Judicial Department (New York), asserting that plaintiffs' agreement with decedent was statutorily barred.

Plaintiff caretakers moved into decedent homeowner's residence on the belief that they would be entitled to his home when he passed away. In return they agreed to be responsible for the upkeep of the home and land while decedent was alive. Litigation ensued when decedent died. Defendant heirs asserted that plaintiffs did not have a contract with decedent on the grounds that the agreement was barred pursuant to the Statute of Frauds. Plaintiffs successfully received a judgment within a lower court and defendants appealed.


  • Upon a final determination, the Court of Appeals reversed the appellate court's decision finding plaintiffs entitled to performance. 
  • The Court held that performance was not enforceable because the agreement was based on the sale of land. As a result, the Statute of Frauds barred plaintiffs' agreement with decedent.

The Court of Appeals reversed on the grounds that plaintiffs' agreement with decedent homeowner was explicitly based on the sale of land. Although plaintiffs performed their obligations under the bargain, it was deemed invalid based upon the Statute of Frauds.

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