BRENDA BENZ-ELLIOTT v. BARRETT ENTERPRISES, LP ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Aug 17, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Peter V. Hall, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Barrett Enterprises, LP, et al.

Attorneys 2:

G. Sumner R. Bouldin, Jr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brenda Benz- Elliott

Judge(s): BENNETT

A property owner (“Seller”) who had 91 acres contracted to sell 5.01 acres to Buyers. The contract contained the condition that Buyers would reserve a 60-foot strip of land along the western edge for Seller and that Buyers would construct a road along the 60- foot stretch to enable Seller to access her property from the west. The closing on the property occurred in March 2005, seven months after the contract was signed, but the warranty deed did not carve out the 60-foot strip consistent with the contract. Seller did not realize the deed did not reserve the 60-foot strip until November 2007, when she went to see her attorney. She contacted Buyers’ attorney immediately in an effort to have the deed corrected. When that effort was not successful, she filed a complaint alleging breach of contract in September 2008, less than four years after the sale was closed. Buyers argued Seller was barred by waiver and estoppel from succeeding on her contract claim because she sat on her rights for years while Buyers constructed a new building and left no space for a road to be built along the western edge. The trial court disagreed and awarded Seller damages in the amount of $850,000. After the case was on appeal, the defendants had a road constructed that provided Seller access to her property, but it was in a different location than the contract contemplated. The case was remanded to the trial court for the consideration of these additional facts, and the trial court reduced its earlier damages award down to $650,000. The Buyers appealed the trial court’s judgment, arguing the trial court erred in ruling Seller was not barred by estoppel, waiver, or laches, from recovering on her breach of contract claim. Buyers also argue the trial court erred in its award of discretionary costs. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all respects.

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