Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lucy v. Zehmer case brief

Lucy v. Zehmer case brief summary
196 Va. 493

SYNOPSIS: Plaintiffs appealed decision of the Circuit Court of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, holding plaintiffs were not entitled to specific performance on a contract for the sale of defendants' real estate to plaintiffs.

Defendant husband wrote and signed a contract to sell his farm to plaintiffs and persuaded defendant wife to sign by telling her the contract was a joke on plaintiffs. When plaintiffs attempted to finalize sale, defendants attempted to deny contract on the grounds that defendant husband was drunk when making the contract and the contract was a joke on plaintiffs. Plaintiffs sued for specific performance. The trial court found for defendants. On appeal, the court reversed and remanded.

Defendants' true intent in agreeing to sell their farm was not determinative so long as their words and actions warranted a reasonable person's belief that a contract was intended.

Plaintiffs reasonably believed the sale contract was a serious business transaction. The evidence suggested defendant husband was not too drunk to know what he was doing.

OUTCOME: The court reversed and remanded, because the contract was a binding contract of sale between the parties despite defendants' claim they had not intended to sell their farm and that the sale contract had been intended as a joke.
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