BOURLAND, HEFLIN, ALVAREZ, MINOR & MATTHEWS, PLC v. RODNEY HEATON and MARGARET HEATON and LOEB PROPERTIES (Tenn. Ct. App. April 9, 2012)
The parties entered into a Contract for the sale and purchase of commercial real estate, and the purchaser deposited $50,000.00 earnest money. The purchaser terminated the Contract, citing the economic downturn and the purchaser’s resulting inability to secure retail tenants for its planned development. The parties disputed whether such termination was appropriate under the Contract, and thus, whether the purchaser was entitled to a return of its earnest money.
The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the purchaser and further awarded the purchaser its attorney fees and expenses. We find the economic downturn did not provide an appropriate basis for termination of the Contract. Thus, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the purchaser, and we enter summary judgment in favor of the sellers. The sellers shall be awarded the $44,362.57 remaining in the escrow account, and the purchaser shall pay the sellers an additional $5,637.43, for a total of $50,000.00. Additionally, pursuant to the Contract, the sellers are awarded attorney fees and expenses incurred in both the trial court and in this Court, and we remand for a determination of such award.
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