Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Harrell v. Sea Colony, Inc. case brief

Harrell v. Sea Colony, Inc. case brief summary
370 A.2d 119 (1977)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff buyer challenged a ruling from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County (Maryland), which entered judgment for defendants, seller and agent, in the buyer's action for damages resulting from an alleged anticipatory breach of a real estate contract for the purchase of a condominium unit that was to be constructed by the seller.

CASE FACTS
The contract provided that in the event of default, the seller could retain the cash deposit and the note. Settlement was to take place within 30 days of written notice of substantial completion of the unit, and the buyer could terminate the contract and secure refund of the deposit if the unit was not delivered by a date certain. Two months prior to the delivery date, the buyer claimed in a declaration that the seller had repudiated the contract by selling the unit to another buyer and filed for damages. At the bench trial, the trial judge concluded that the buyer had unilaterally cancelled the contract and entered judgment for the seller and the agent.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment for the agent but vacated as to the seller. 
  • The court held that the trial court had failed to reach the issue as to whether the seller, in the context of a non-breach by the buyer, was guilty of an anticipatory breach when the seller resold the property to a third person. 
  • The evidence was legally insufficient to permit a finding that there was a manifestation of the buyer's intention that the buyer would not render the promised performance when the contracted delivery date arrived.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the judgment for the agent in the buyer's action for anticipatory breach of a real estate contract, but reversed as to the seller. The cause was remanded for further proceedings.


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