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Law School Case Brief

Curran v. Barefoot - 183 N.C. App. 331, 645 S.E.2d 187 (2007)

Rule:

As a general rule, the remedy for a breach of contract for the sale of personal property is an action at law, where damages are awarded. However, the North Carolina Supreme Court has stated that there are recognized exceptions. Jurisdiction to enforce specific performance rests, not on the distinction between real and personal property, but on the ground that damages at law will not afford a complete remedy.

Facts:

Plaintiff buyers filed suit against defendant seller seeking specific performance of a contract for the sale of real and personal property. The seller argued that there was no evidence the buyers were ready, willing, and able to consummate the transaction. The lower court ordered the seller to convey a lake house and certain personal property to the buyers. The seller moved for relief from the judgment, or a new trial. The trial court denied the seller's motions. The seller appealed.

Issue:

Are the plaintiff buyers entitled to specific performance even though no loan commitment letter was given upon the oral request of the seller?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The matter was remanded to the trial court to award the buyers money damages for the fair market value of the three watercraft or other appropriate relief, if the seller did not, or could not, deliver clear and unencumbered title of the watercraft to the buyers at closing. The judgment was affirmed in all other respects. Specific performance was proper as the purchase price was definite and certain. Specific performance for the personal property was also proper as it was part of the sale of the lake house. Specific performance of the real and personal property gave the buyers a complete remedy.

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