Friday, November 29, 2013

Stonebraker v. Zinn case brief

Stonebraker v. Zinn case brief summary
286 S.E.2d 911 (W. Va. 1982)

Appellant purchasers sought review of a decision from the trial court (West Virginia) that found that appellee vendors were entitled to liquidated damages by way of being able to keep money paid by the purchasers. The court also found that the purchasers were not entitled to any relief on the theories they presented to the trial court. From this judgment, the purchasers appealed.

Vendors agreed to sell to purchasers a house and land pursuant to a land contract. The contract provided for liquidated damages in the event the purchasers abandoned the property. The amount of the liquidated damages was the amount the purchasers had paid on the purchase price at the time of abandonment. Purchasers took possession of the property and assumed all other responsibilities normally associated with homeownership. However, the purchasers subsequently vacated the property. The trial court allowed the retention by the vendors of approximately $3,850 ($1,500 down payment plus monthly payments of $189.09 for approximately 12 months).

  • On appeal the court affirmed because it did not believe that the retention was excessive or unreasonable when the various expenses the vendors incurred in conjunction with regaining the property were taken into account. 
  • The court also found that the interest rate in the contract was not in violation of the eight percent interest rate set by West Virginia Code § 47-6-5(b) because the monthly payment was not grossly disproportional to the fair monthly rental value of the property and no other extraordinary factors were present.

The court affirmed a judgment in favor of the vendors.

Recommended Supplements and Study Aids for Property Law

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