Law School Case Brief
Fortner v. Wilson - 1950 OK 71, 202 Okla. 563, 216 P.2d 299
While statutes in some jurisdictions authorize specific performance of contracts for the sale of personal property, in accordance with the general rules, specific performance of a contract for the sale of personal property will not ordinarily be granted, because there is an adequate remedy at law, as in an action for damages for breach of contract. So a contract to convey chattels having a market value cannot be specifically enforced, unless damages in lieu thereof would be inadequate; and a court of equity therefore will not, unless there is some specific reason, specifically enforce a contract for the sale of ordinary articles of commerce, which can at all times be bought in the market, such as barroom fixtures, cattle, coal, corn, cotton, logs or lumber, pianos, sauerkraut, whisky, used cars, or an existing business and stock in trade, since the remedy at law for a breach of such contract is regarded as complete and adequate. Moreover, an agreement to pay for an article in the products thereof will not generally be specifically enforced, but the remedy is by an action at law to recover the price in money.
The parties entered into a contract whereby plaintiff R. C. Wilson agreed to purchase an automobile from defendant J. W. Fortner. Wilson alleged that he was able, willing, and ready to receive and pay for the new car, but that Fortner refused to perform his part of the contract. On appeal, Fortner argued that the trial court erred when it ordered it to specifically perform under the contract duet to the fact that equity did not enforce a contract for the purchase of an automobile, because Wilson’s remedy at law was adequate.
Did the trial court err in entering judgment in favor of plaintiff automobile purchaser Wilson in his action for the specific performance of a contract for the sale and purchase of an automobile?
Reversing, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma held that the trial court erred when it ordered defendant seller Fortner to specifically perform under the contract because the car being sold was an article that could be obtained, by paying an additional amount of money, in the open market. Furthermore, the Court held there was nothing unique in any way about the car that would have caused it to come under the exceptions to the rule that specific performance would not be granted as to personal property. In conclusion, the Court held that plaintiff purchaser Wilson had an adequate remedy at law, and, such being the case, specific performance was not appropriate.
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