Monday, November 25, 2013

Hickey v. Green case brief

Hickey v. Green case brief summary
442 N.E.2d 37 (Mass. App. Ct. 1982)

Defendant appealed a judgment of the Superior Court (Massachusetts) granting specific performance on plaintiff's complaint regarding an oral contract for the sale of defendant's house to plaintiff.

Plaintiff orally agreed to buy defendant's house. Plaintiff stated to defendant that his intention was to sell his home and build on defendant's lot. However, after plaintiff had sold his home, defendant told plaintiff that she no longer intended to sell her property to him. Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking specific performance and defendant argued that relief was barred by the statute of frauds. Judgement was awarded to the plaintiff.


  • On appeal, the court reasoned that it was a permissible inference from the agreed facts that the rapid sale of plaintiff's home was both appropriate and expected. 
  • Thus, the court affirmed holding that, in equity, defendant's conduct could not be condoned. 
  • Specifically, the court held that the statute of frauds was inapplicable because her repudiation of the contract after plaintiff's partial performance of selling his home amounted to a virtual fraud.

Court affirmed the judgement to grant plaintiff specific performance, but remanded for the purpose of amending the judgment to require conveyance only upon payment to defendant the balance of the agreed price or, in the alternative, full restitution to the plaintiff of all costs reasonably caused to them.

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