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Ardente v. Horan

Supreme Court of Rhode Island
366 A.2d 162 (1976)


Facts

In August 1975, William and Katherine Horan (defendants) offered to sell residential property in the city of Newport. Ernst Ardente (plaintiff) bid $250,000 for the property. The Horans’ attorney communicated that the bid was acceptable and prepared a purchase and sale agreement which he forwarded to Ardente. Ardente executed the agreement, and his attorney forwarded it back to the Horans. Ardente also included with the agreement a check for $20,000 and a letter asking if certain furniture and fixtures were a part of the transaction and requesting that they remain with the property. The Horans refused to sell the items listed by Ardente and returned the unsigned purchase and sale agreement and the $20,000 deposit to Ardente. The Horans refused to sell the property to Ardente, and Ardente brought suit seeking specific performance. The trial court ruled that Ardente’s letter constituted a conditional acceptance of the Horans’ offer to sell their property and thus must be construed as a counteroffer. The Horans never accepted the counteroffer and thus no contract was formed, so the trial judge granted the Horans’ motion for summary judgment on the grounds that no facts were in dispute and no contract had been formed as a matter of law. Ardente appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Doris, J.)

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