Ardente v. Horan

117 R.I. 254, 366 A.2d 162 (1976)



Summary judgment is a drastic remedy and should be cautiously applied; nevertheless, where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, summary judgment properly issues. On appeal the court is bound by the same rules as the trial court.


The buyer executed and returned the sellers' sales contract for the purchase of real estate accompanied by a letter that indicated he desired for certain items to remain a part of the land. The sellers refused to agree to sell the listed items or sign the sales contract, so the buyer filed an action for specific performance of the sales contract. The trial court, however, granted the sellers' motion for summary judgment on the ground that the letter constituted only a conditional acceptance of the sellers' offer to sell the property, therefore it was a counteroffer that the sellers had not accepted, which was insufficient to have formed a binding contract. The case was appealed.


Is an response with a condition considered to be a valid acceptance of a contract offer?




The court ruled that the delivery of the sales contract to the buyer was an offer, but that the buyer's letter in response was not a definite and equivocal acceptance of that offer because it imposed additional conditions on the offer. In light of this construction, the court ruled that the trial court had properly held that the buyer's response was a rejection of the sellers' offer, therefore no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether there was a binding agreement. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court that granted the sellers' motion for summary judgment in the buyer's action for specific performance of a real estate sales contract.

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