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Law School Case Brief

Laporte v. Blum - 2015 Vt. Super. LEXIS 12

Rule:

The Restatement (Second) of Contracts states that an "option agreement is not invalidated by proof that the recited consideration was not in fact given." "An option is a continuing offer, and if supported by a consideration, it cannot be withdrawn before the time limit." It is "an agreement by which one binds himself to sell and convey to another party certain property at a stipulated price within a designated time." The optionor is bound that the offer shall be kept open and available in accordance with its terms.

Facts:

This is an intra-family dispute over an option to buy land. Lawrence Burgess and Reuth Burgess (grandparents) live on the Underhill land in question. They ran a sugarhouse on the land and later on, their grandsons William and James (plaintiffs) took over the business, with the assurance by their grandparents that they could continue to sugar on the property. The defendants, who are the aunts and uncles of the plaintiffs, became unhappy about the fact that the grandsons were running the sugaring operation. The grandparents’ property was deeded to their five children (including the four defendants and the mother of William and James), the option to buy the land and the lease were executed as well. Plaintiffs grandsons sought to enforce the option to purchase the family land on which they have been sugaring, while the defendants filed a counterclaim seeking a declaration that they properly revoked the option in 2013.

Issue:

Had the option to purchase the lot been revoked?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court found for plaintiffs William and James LaPorte. The continuation of a family farm or family business is often of very high value to older family members, and the evidence here supports a conclusion that it was so valued by the Grandparents. There was adequate consideration here. The defendants did not have the right to revoke the option; the plaintiffs exercised it in September 2013, within the 9-month period after their grandfather’s death. At this time, it became a binding, enforceable contract.

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