As discussed in an article in the Madison-St. Clair Record, an appellate court recently upheld a breach of contract case. It is a good example of how some of these contractual issues play out in the courtroom. It is important not to rely on the specific outcome or statements of law in this case, but instead use it as a general outline of common contract law principles.
In this matter Michael Pickett and Juanita Redfern sued Laura and Thomas Williamses for breach of contract and Diana Naney, a real estate agent, for tortious interference with a contractual relationship. The Williamses were under contract to purchase property from Pickett and Redfern. The Williamses, however, breached the contract in order to purchase another property under the influence of Naney, who would also receive a commission in the sale of the second property.
The original case ended in a mistrial and was retried the following year; Pickett and Redfarm won the second case. Real Estate contracts are fairly consistent across most cases, but they are often difficult to dissolve. While both parties can always agree to mutually end a contract, there are very specific circumstances in ending a real estate matter unilaterally. These circumstances are often limited to fraud on the part of either party or the inability of the buyers to receive money from a bank, or another financier, for the cost of the property. Because the Williamses were able to receive financing to purchase another home within the same time period as the intended sale with Pickett and Redfarm (and they did not have a strong case for fraud), it was unlikely that the Williamses would have been able to show a valid reason to break their contract with Pickett and Redfarm.
The fact that Naney received a benefit (her commission) for getting the Williamses to purchase a different property is strong evidence that she interfered with the original contract. This made for an solid case against Naney as long as she knew about the original contract before she suggested the second property.
Litigation can be complicated, and preparation is key. When deciding to go to court, you must think through of all the possible claims you could bring. This is because once you start a lawsuit, it can be difficult to bring another suit, based on problems occurring in the same time period in the current suit, in a later case. As this case demonstrated, cases can be made up of multiple claims and include multiple parties. This means that for each claim the plaintiff needs to explain what law the defendant violated, why or how he or she thinks the defendant did so, and must provide any evidence and witnesses to support the point. Having an attorney can help you create a complete case is critical.
An attorney can listen to your version of events and help you decide which claims to bring and what information is necessary to support each claim. If you have any sort of contractissue in our area, be sure to reach out to our Long Island business lawyer for guidance.