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Guel v. Bullock

OPINION FILED AUGUST 28, 1984.

DAVID GUEL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

KAREY C. BULLOCK ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Albert Green, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff David Guel sought specific performance of a contract to purchase real estate. Named as defendants were the owner of the property in issue, Karey C. Bullock, and Joseph and Shou-Mei Morris, the ultimate purchasers of the property. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted, and plaintiff appeals.

On February 6, 1982, plaintiff contracted to buy and defendant Karey Bullock contracted to sell real estate owned by Bullock. The contract described the property as "8427 S. Euclid." The contract provided that plaintiff would pay $4,500, assume the mortgage on the property, and pay all back taxes which were due. The agreement designated plaintiff as the purchaser and Bullock as the seller, and it was signed by Bullock and plaintiff's agents.

On February 24, 1982, plaintiff received a letter from Bullock's attorney stating that Bullock was rescinding the contract to purchase. This letter was signed by Bullock's attorney. Thereafter, Bullock sold his property to Joseph and Shou-Mei Morris for $8,000 under the same conditions contained in the agreement between plaintiff and Bullock. Plaintiff then sued for specific performance of the contract.

In his amended complaint, plaintiff contended that by reading the February 6 contract in conjunction with the February 24 letter of rescission, the essential elements for specific performance of the contract could be found. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the contract in issue failed to comply with the Statute of Frauds. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the contract failed to comply with the Statute of Frauds and because it appeared that plaintiff was not ready, willing and able to perform the terms of the contract. Plaintiff then instituted this appeal.

Plaintiff first contends that the trial court erred in concluding that the contract in issue did not comply with the requirements of the Statute of Frauds.

• 1 In Illinois, no action on a contract for the sale of an interest in land may be brought unless the contract is in writing and signed by the party to be charged. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 59, par. 2.) For a court to decree specific performance of a contract to convey real estate, the contract must be "definite and certain in its terms and conditions, contain the names of the vendor and vendee, a description of the property sufficient to identify it, the price, the terms and conditions of sale, together with the signatures of the parties to be charged." (Pocius v. Fleck (1958), 13 Ill.2d 420, 427, 150 N.E.2d 106.) This appeal turns on the degree of specificity required by the Statute of Frauds.

The contract in issue provides as follows:

"February 6, 1982

Seller agrees to sell and buyer agrees to buy on an assumption of the present mortgage of the property commonly known as 8427 S. Euclid. Buyer will pay on closing the sum of five thousand five hundred dollars in cash.

Buyer will pay all closing costs (excepting sellers attorney fees) and will assume all past due mortgage payments and real estate taxes.

This agreement subject to a title search to disclose any hidden liens, judgments or claims on the property.

This agreement is also subject to the mortgagee (Bell Federal) accepting the assumption."

The first ambiguity noted by defendants and the primary point of contention is the contract's failure to designate what city and State the property is located in. Plaintiff asserts that this defect is remedied by the letter of February 24, 1982, from Bullock's attorney to plaintiff. In that letter, Bullock's attorney acknowledged the existence of the contract for the sale of "8427 S. Euclid, Chicago, Illinois" and then proceeded to serve notice that that contract was being rescinded. Plaintiff asserts that when the letter of February 24, ...


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