Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Proctor v. Holden case brief

Proctor v. Holden case brief summary 

75 Md. App. 1

SYNOPSIS: Appellants, home owners and real estate brokerage company (company), sought review of jury verdict from the Circuit Court of Talbot County (Maryland), which found the home owner's liable for breach of real estate contract for their failure to return deposit by appellee home buyers, and found the company liable for compensatory and punitive damage for their breach of fiduciary duty to the home buyers.

OVERVIEW: The home owners offered to sell their home to the home buyers. The home buyers made application for financing, signed a contingent offer agreement on the home, and submitted a deposit on the home. After being rejected for financing by several lenders, the home buyers requested, but never received, their deposit from the home owners. A jury of the trial court awarded the home buyers damages for the home owner's breach of contract and for the company's breach of fiduciary duty.

The court affirmed the judgment against the home owners, but reversed the judgment against the company because the home buyers failed to prove an agency relationship between them and the company.

The court found that the real estate contract was ambiguous as it contained a provision requiring the home buyer to obtain both a fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgage, and therefore admitting extrinsic evidence on the parties intent was not an error by the trial court. Moreover, the court found that the home buyers made a bona fide, reasonable, and prompt attempt to secure financing, and the home buyers were under no legal duty to accept the financing offered by the home sellers.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment against the home sellers for their breach of contract, but reversed the judgment against the company for breach of fiduciary duty because the home buyers failed to prove an agency relationship existed between the company and them.

Hall v. Vallandingham (Md. 1988) [12 CB 83]: Earl died survived by wife and four children.  Wife remarried and new husband adopted children.  Earl’s brother dies 25 years later and Earl’s children attempt to inherit from him through Earl.  Rule: Law provides adopted children all the rights of natural children vis-à-vis the adoptive parents, but severs the child’s right to inherit from his natural parents, and accordingly, loses the right to inherit through his natural parents.
i.    This approach is only one of many; TX adoptive child is a super-taker that can inherit from and through both adoptive and natural parents
ii.   TX approach defended on ground that modern adoption doesn’t necessarily sever all ties and that adoption often applies to young children who have no legal voice separate from their natural parents and thus should have right to choose from whom they wish to take

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