Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Under the statute of frauds, a contract for the sale of land must be in writing to be enforceable.
Plaintiff purchasers Hahne and Steve Schneider entered into an oral agreement with the defendant seller, Clarence Burr, for the sale of land. Although some money was exchanged, the defendant seller ultimately declined to sell the property. Plaintiff purchaser then brought an action for specific performance. The trial court awarded summary judgment to the defendant seller based on the statute of frauds, S.D. Codified Laws § 53-8-2. On appeal, the court found it significant that the plaintiff purchaser did not produce any writing signed by the defendant seller confirming an agreement for the sale of the land. Plaintiff purchaser sought review of an order which awarded summary judgment to the defendant seller in action for specific performance of an oral agreement for the sale of land. The defendant seller challenged the court's refusal to grant sanctions.
Was the trial court correct when it awarded summary judgment to the defendant seller based on the statute of fraud?
The court affirmed the trial court’s decision denying relief and entering a summary judgment against the plaintiff purchaser because of the statute of fraud. The court held that the trial court correctly determined that conversations and writings by others were not sufficient to satisfy the statute of fraud. The plaintiff's possession of the land was not sufficient to constitute partial performance because he was there under a written lease. Further, because the evidence indicated that others, not the plaintiffs, were ultimately purchasing the land, the plaintiff then failed to establish detrimental reliance on any promise or representation. Therefore, because it was not clear as to who was actually going to purchase the land, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to award sanctions and attorney fees to the defendant. The court affirmed the order of the trial court.