Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Horton v. O’Rourke case brief

Horton v. O’Rourke case brief summary
321 So.2d 612 (1975)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant seller challenged a final judgment from a Florida trial court, which denied specific performance, exonerated appellee owner from any obligation to appellee purchasers, and awarded appellees pecuniary damages against appellant.

CASE FACTS
Appellee purchasers were four families who executed written contract with appellant seller, a construction company, to purchase homes owned by appellee owner. Without closing, the families took possession under rental agreements. Closing was conditioned upon clearance of all outstanding title defects. Appellant sincerely, but unsuccessfully, tried to remove the liens. Eventually, appellant offered to return the earnest money or enter new rental agreements. Appellee purchasers sued appellee owner and appellant seller for specific performance.

DISCUSSION

  • The court denied specific performance, exonerated appellee owner, and awarded appellee purchasers pecuniary damages.
  • Reversing the trial court judgment, the appellate court held that the trial court had used the wrong standard in assessing damages. 
  • The court explained that the proper standard was in the absence of bad faith, the damages recoverable for breach by the seller of an executory contract to convey title to real estate were the purchase money paid by the purchaser together with interest and expenses of investigating title. 
  • The court found no suggestion of bad faith on appellant's pArticle

CONCLUSION
The court reversed the final judgment denying specific performance and exonerating appellee owner from any obligation to appellee purchasers and awarding appellees pecuniary damages against appellant because the standard of measurement the trial court used to assess damages was error in the absence of a showing of bad faith.


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