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Cooke v. Goethals

Washington Court of Appeals
157 Wash. App. 1067 (2010)


Steve and Dana Cooke (plaintiffs) orally agreed to purchase a parcel of real property from Gilbert and Lena Goethals and their son Don Goethals (defendants). The Cookes and the Goethalses had been friends for a long time. In May 2001, the Cookes agreed to purchase the real property for $60,000, but the Cookes could not obtain financing for the purchase until a lot-line adjustment issue was resolved by the Goethalses. A witness overheard these discussions and later confirmed that both parties agreed to the sale of the property. The Cookes orally agreed to pay a monthly payment of $350 based on a 30-year amortization, with a balloon payment at the end of five years, to the Goethalses while waiting on the lot-line adjustment to be resolved. The Cookes and the Goethalses did not enter into a written agreement. The Cookes made monthly payments and also spent between $6,000 and $7,000 on improvements to the property. A Federal Express truck accidently collided with the garage on the property in December 2007. The Goethalses made suggestions to the Cookes on how to recover the damages from the accident, but did not take any actions themselves. The Goethalses obtained the lot-line adjustment in 2008 but refused to sell the property to the Cookes. The Cookes sued the Goethalses for breach of contract. The Goethalses moved for summary judgment, alleging that the statute of frauds prevented the enforcement of an oral agreement to sell real estate. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Goethalses, and the Cookes appealed to the Washington Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Armstrong, J.)

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