Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Halpert v. Rosenthal case brief

Halpert v. Rosenthal case brief summary
267 A.2d 730 (1970)

Plaintiff vendor appealed and sought reargument of a judgment from the Superior Court (Rhode Island) that was rendered for defendant vendee in the vendor's suit for breach of the parties' contract for the sale of the vendor's property and which denied the vendor a directed verdict on the vendee's counterclaim to recover a deposit he paid to the vendor.

During the parties' negotiations for the sale and purchase of the vendor's home, the vendor and his agent affirmatively represented, upon the vendee's specific inquiry, that the home was termite-free. After the parties executed the contract for the sale, an inspection revealed that the home was infested with termites. The vendee notified the vendor that he did not intend to buy the home. The vendor later sued the vendee to recover the difference between the contract price and price he later obtained from a different buyer; the vendee counterclaimed for the return of the deposit he paid to the vendor under the contract. A jury rendered a verdict for the vendee and the trial court denied the vendor's motion for a directed verdict on the counterclaim.


  • On appeal, the court ruled that, regardless of whether the vendor's misrepresentation was innocent or fraudulent, because the vendee relied upon the misrepresentation as to a material fact and was thereby induced to enter into the contract, the vendee was entitled to rescind the contract even though he offered no proof that the vendor intended to deceive him. 
  • That the vendee's allegata and proof differed was immaterial, the court ruled.

The court denied and dismissed the appeal, remanded the case for the trial court to enter judgment for the vendee, and denied the vendor's motion for reargument. The vendee was entitled to rescind the parties' contract because of the vendor's misrepresentation regarding the presence of termites in the home. The vendee was thereby entitled to recover the deposit he paid on the home under the contract.

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