Law School Case Brief
Gordon v. Mazur - 284 A.D. 289, 131 N.Y.S.2d 261 (App. Div. 1st Dept. 1954)
Before decreeing specific performance, the court will measure relative hardships and prejudices as well as nice legal rights. In general it may be said that the specific relief will be granted when it is apparent, from a view of all the circumstances of the particular case, that it will subserve the ends of justice; and that it will be withheld when, from a like view, it appears that it will produce hardship or injustice to either of the parties.
Plaintiff Bennet Gordon and defendant Helen Mazur, together with other persons, owned certain real property as tenants in common. Gordon had a 30 percent interest and Mazur's interest was 21 2/3 percent. In Aug. 1947, the parties entered into an agreement wherein they mutually agreed that neither of them would "sell, transfer or assign" his or her respective interest in the property without first offering it to the other at cost. The agreement provided for 10 days' notice by registered mail within which period the recipient could exercise the option to purchase. Without notice to the Gordon, Mazur conveyed her interest to defendant trustees, and to herself, as trustee, to establish a trust for her infant son. After he learned of the conveyance, Gordon demanded that Mazur sell her interest to him pursuant to the parties' agreement. Mazur refused, and Gordon thereafter filed a lawsuit against Mazur and the seeking specific performance of the parties' agreement. After a bench trial, the trial court ordered defendants to convey Mazur's interest to Gordan upon his payment of the pre-determined value of her interest. Defendants appealed.
Was Gordon entitled to specific performance of the purchase-option agreement with Mazur?
The court affirmed the judgment, holding that the language of the parties' agreement was unambiguous and prohibited Mazur's conveyance to the trustees. The court rejected defendants' argument that Gordon consented to the conveyance and waived any objection, finding that Gordon did not act with full knowledge and notice of his rights when he allegedly consented. The court found that, after measuring the relative hardships, specific performance was appropriate because the parties would be returned to their status quo.
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