Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cumbest v. Harris case brief

Cumbest v. Harris case brief summary
363 So.2d 294 (1978)

Complainant seller filed an action against defendant buyer for specific performance of a contract. The Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi, dismissed the bill of complaint, and the seller sought review of that order.

The parties entered into a contract for the buyer's purchase of the seller's stereo system. The parties also contracted for the seller's option to repurchase the system by a certain date and time. On the deadline date, the seller made several unsuccessful attempts to locate the buyer to pay the required amount to repurchase the system. The seller finally gave the money to the buyer's landlord on the evening of the deadline date. A week later, the seller filed an action against the buyer for specific performance of the repurchase contract. The trial court dismissed the action.


  • On appeal, the court held that property of a unique value and chattel not readily obtainable presented exceptions to the general rule that specific performance would not be decreed if the subject matter of the contract sought to be enforced was personalty. 
  • The court also held that the trial court erred in not finding that the system was sufficiently unique to justify the equitable jurisdiction of a chancery court because the system had a unique value and it was not readily obtainable due to scarcity.

The court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the action for a hearing on the merits.

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