Hepburn & Dundas's Heirs v. Dunlop & Co.

14 U.S. 179

 

RULE:

A court of equity will decree a specific performance of a contract for the sale of land, if the vendor is able to make a good title at any time before the decree is pronounced; but the dismission of a bill to enforce a specific performance in such a case, is a bar to a new bill for the same object.

FACTS:

The debtors owed an account to the creditor for certain mercantile dealings. The parties allegedly agreed that the debtors would pay the debt and the debtors assigned their interest in an ejectment action to the creditor. The debtors filed an action claiming that it was entitled to the difference between the amount of its debt and the sum arising from the ejectment action. The creditor filed an action seeking the whole sum. The debtors failed in their action at law and filed an action in equity to compel the conveyance and acceptance of title to the subject property. The trial court entered decrees, which provided that the debtors owed the creditor a sum of money, but that part of that sum was discharged by a conveyance of title to the property. The creditor was ordered to accept conveyance of the title. Both parties filed appeals.

ISSUE:

Is the dismission of a former bill for specific performance a bar to the present bill for the same object?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court reversed the trial court's decrees. The court held that the debtors owed the creditor money and the creditor could not be compelled to accept title. The court held that the trial court in equity could not order specific performance of the creditor. Instead, the creditors were entitled to proceeds from a public sale of the property.

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