Monday, January 6, 2014

Lucenti v. Cayuga Apartments, Inc. case brief

Lucenti v. Cayuga Apartments, Inc. case brief summary
399 N.E.2d 918 (1979)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant seller challenged the judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (New York), which granted appellee buyer's complaint for specific performance of a contract for the sale of real property. A building subject to the sale was destroyed by fire before the closing, and the seller argued that the Uniform Vendor and Purchaser Risk Act,N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1311, mandated rescission, not specific performance, of the contract.

CASE FACTS
Before the contract for sale could close, fire destroyed about half of the subject real property; the appellate court held that appellant seller must sell the property to appellee buyer with an adjustment or abatement of the price. The seller argued that the Uniform Vendor and Purchaser Risk Act (Act), N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1311, mandated rescission and not specific performance of the contract. The buyer objected to the adjusted price as modified by the appellate court from that set by the trial court.

DISCUSSION

  • The court held that the Act permits a buyer to rescind a contract in the event a material destruction of the property occurs before closing or grants either party the power to enforce a contract, with abatement of the price, in the event of an immaterial damage to the property. 
  • However, the court held that the Act was silent as to a seller who sought to enforce a contract notwithstanding that a material part of the realty had been destroyed. 
  • The court held that because the Act was silent on the issue, the common-law abatement rule would continue to apply and affirmed the judgment of specific performance. 
  • The court held that the buyer was not aggrieved by the modification.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court against appellant seller because the Uniform Vendor and Purchaser Risk Act did not take from appellee buyer their optional common-law remedy of specific performance of a real estate contract with an abatement of the purchase price in the event of a material destruction of the property. The buyer's counterclaim was dismissed because the buyer was not injured by the appellate court's decision.


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