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Dills v. Town of Enfield

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


Facts

Timothy Dills (plaintiff), a private developer, contracted to purchase and develop a tract of land from the Town of Enfield, Connecticut (Enfield) (defendant) for $985,900. Dills paid a $100,000 deposit to Enfield. The parties' contract provided that Enfield would convey the property to Dills 60 days after the fulfillment of two conditions: (1) the submission and approval of final construction plans as specified by the contract and (2) Dills's submission of evidence of sufficient mortgage financing. The contract also included two termination provisions. The first allowed Dills to reclaim his $100,000 deposit and terminate the contract if he failed to obtain mortgage financing. The second allowed Enfield to keep Dills’s deposit and terminate the contract if Dills failed to submit acceptable final construction plans. Dills submitted preliminary construction plans to Enfield. However, Dills never submitted acceptable final construction plans because, even though he had tried diligently, he was unable to obtain mortgage financing. Both Dills and Enfield tried to terminate the contract under the termination provisions. On December 19, 1974, Enfield voted to terminate the contract and keep Dills's deposit because Dills had failed to submit acceptable final construction plans. On December 22, 1974, Dills’s attorney notified Enfield that Dills was terminating the contract because he was unable to obtain mortgage financing. Enfield refused to return Dills’s deposit, and Dills sued Enfield to recover the deposit in Connecticut state court. The case was referred to a state referee. The referee concluded that Dills was excused from performance due to impracticability because he was unable to obtain financing. The referee therefore recommended that Dills be allowed to recover his deposit. The trial court disagreed with the referee and entered judgment for Enfield. Dills appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Peters, C.J.)

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