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Dills v. Town of Enfield

Connecticut Supreme Court
557 A.2d 517 (1989)


Facts

Dills (plaintiff), a private developer, contracted to purchase and develop a tract of land from the Town of Enfield (Enfield) (defendant) for $985,900. Dills provided a $100,000 deposit to Enfield. Under the terms of the contract, Enfield agreed to convey the property to Dills sixty days after the fulfillment of two conditions: the submission and approval of final construction plans in accordance with contract specifications, and the submission of evidence of sufficient mortgage financing by Dills. The contract also provided two termination clauses. The first clause allowed Dills to keep his $100,000 deposit and terminate the contract in the event that he failed to obtain mortgage financing. The second clause allowed Enfield to keep Dills’ deposit and terminate the contract in the event that Dills failed to submit acceptable final construction plans within a specified time frame. Dills submitted preliminary construction plans to Enfield, but never actually submitted acceptable final construction plans. Additionally, despite diligent efforts, Dills was unable to obtain mortgage financing. On December 19, 1974, Enfield voted to terminate the contract because Dills failed to submit acceptable final construction plans. On December 22, 1974, Dills’ attorney notified Enfield Dills was terminating the contract because he was unable to obtain mortgage financing. Enfield refused to return Dills’ deposit. Dills brought suit in Connecticut state court against Enfield, seeking to recover his $100,000 deposit. The case was referred to a state referee. The referee held that Dills was excused from performance due to impracticability since he was unable to obtain financing. The Connecticut state court reversed and entered judgment for Enfield. Dills appealed, and the case was transferred to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Peters, C.J.)

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