Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lancellotti v. Thomas case brief

Lancellotti v. Thomas case brief summary
491 A.2d 117 (1985)

Appellant buyer sought review of a judgment from the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County (Pennsylvania), which rendered judgment in favor of appellee sellers in a breach of sale contract case.

  • Lancellotti (P) agreed to buy a luncheonette business from the Thomases (defendants) and rent the premises where the luncheonette was located. 
  • Lancellotti agreed to pay $25,000 for the business as well as build an addition to the existing building. Lancellotti paid the $25,000 and began operating the business. 
  • Problems arose regarding construction of the addition and the Thomas’s finally constructed the addition themselves. 
  • After a year passed, Lancellotti discontinued operating the business. 
  • Lancellotti had paid no rent for the premises. 
  • The Thomas’s began to run the business themselves. 
  • Lancellotti filed a complaint in assumpsit in which he sought the return of his $25,000. 
  • Lancellotti conceded that he owed the Thomas’s rent.. 
  • The trial court ruled in favor of the Thomases, denying Lancellotti recovery of the $25,000 as well as awarding the Thomas’s the rent money owed. 
  • Lancellotti then appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

  • The court reversed the lower court judgment and remanded for a consideration of restitution damages for appellant buyer because the lower court judgment allowed appellee sellers to be unjustly enriched. 
  • The court found that appellant defaulted on the purchase of the business, and that the lower court erred when it allowed appellees to retain all payments made by appellant. 
  • The court determined that appellees were unjustly enriched by the judgment and ordered the lower court to determine whether appellant would be entitled to restitution. 
  • The court held that appellant, as the party who breached the contract was entitled to recover any benefit, in excess of the loss caused by the breach. 
  • The court concluded that the lower court failed to consider whether appellant was entitled to restitution, and if not, whether appellees retention of the entire amount paid by appellant was reasonable in light of the anticipated or actual loss caused by the breach.

The court reversed and remanded the lower court judgment that was rendered in favor of appellee sellers because it found that the lower court failed to consider whether appellant buyer was entitled to restitution for any benefit conferred to appellees in excess of the loss caused by the breach.

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