Sunday, April 28, 2013

Skendzel v. Marshall case brief

Skendzel v. Marshall case brief summary
301 N.E.2d 641

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiffs, the assignees of a deceased vendor's interest in a contract, filed suit against defendant vendees to obtain possession of certain real estate through the enforcement of a forfeiture clause in a land sale contract. Plaintiffs suffered a negative judgment, from which they appealed. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's judgment. Defendants appealed from the judgment of the appellate court.

FACTS: In plaintiffs' complaint, they alleged that defendants had defaulted through non-payment. In response to the attempt to enforce the forfeiture provision, defendants raised the affirmative defense of waiver.

In reversing the trial court's judgment, the appellate court held that defendants had breached the contract, and that plaintiffs had not waived their right to enforce the contract's forfeiture provisions. The court reversed the judgment of the appellate court.

The court noted that if forfeiture was enforced against defendants, they would forfeit outright the sum of $ 21,000, or well over one-half the original contract price, as liquidated damages, plus possession. As such, the court concluded that the forfeiture was not a reasonable measure of damages, rather the forfeiture was clearly excessive. The court further concluded that the $ 21,000 forfeiture as liquidated damages was inconsistent with generally accepted principles of fairness and equity. Defendants had acquired a substantial interest in the property, which, if forfeited, would result in substantial injustice. Lastly, the court ruled that judicial foreclosure of a land sale contract was an appropriate equitable remedy.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed the judgment of the appellate court and remanded the cause to the trial court with instructions to enter a judgment of foreclosure on plaintiffs' lien.

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