Monday, November 25, 2013

Johnson v. Davis case brief

Johnson v. Davis case brief summary
480 So. 2d 625 (Fla. 1985)

Petitioners appealed judgment of the Third District Court of Appeal (Florida) ordering the return of respondents' total deposit and awarding respondents costs and fees in a real estate contract action alleging fraud and misrepresentation by petitioners.

Respondents entered into a contract to buy petitioners' home. The contract provided for two deposits, $ 5,000 and a subsequent $ 26,000. Before the second deposit was paid, respondents noticed peeling plaster and ceiling stains. Petitioners stated minor problems in the past had been corrected. Respondents paid the second deposit. Days later, rain was found gushing through the ceiling. Respondents filed a complaint alleging fraud and misrepresentation and sought recission of the contract and return of the entire deposit. Petitioners counterclaimed seeking the deposit as liquidated damages.

The trial court awarded respondents $ 26,000 and petitioners $ 5,000.

Is a homebuyer entitled to a refund of the deposit where the seller knew of, however failed to disclose significant leakage problems in the house’s roof?

Yes, where a seller makes fraudulent misrepresentations of facts that affect the value of the property, the homebuyer is entitled to a refund of the deposit.


  • On appeal, the court awarded respondents the total deposit monies and costs and fees. 
  • The appellate court found petitioners made fraudulent misrepresentations of facts materially affecting the value of the property. 
  • On appeal here, the court approved the appellate court's determination that respondents were entitled to return of all deposits plus costs and fees.

The court affirmed the order that respondents' total deposit payments be returned and costs and fees awarded because petitioners had made fraudulent misrepresentations of facts about a damaged roof which materially affected the value of the home.

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