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Fisher v. Comer Plantation

772 So. 2d 455 (2000)

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Fisher v. Comer Plantation

Alabama Supreme Court

772 So. 2d 455 (2000)

Facts

Harry Fisher (plaintiff), a North Carolina resident interested in buying land in Alabama, contacted Alabama Land Locators, Inc. (Locators) (defendant), a real estate agency, for help. Tim Speaks (defendant), a Locators real estate agent, suggested Comer Plantation, a large former plantation. Speaks sent Fisher an appraisal for Comer Plantation. Roger Pugh (defendant) had prepared the appraisal for the benefit of Paul Thomas (defendant). Thomas was a stockholder in Comer Plantation, Inc. (defendant), the entity that owned Comer Plantation, and he also owned Locators. The appraisal valued Comer Plantation at $919,000 and expressly limited the appraisal’s use to its intended purpose. When Fisher saw Comer Plantation, he discovered it needed extensive work. Fisher met with Thomas and offered $500,000 for the property. Thomas refused. Later, Billy Pritchard, another owner of Comer Plantation, contacted Fisher and said they were still interested in selling. Beginning with the appraisal value, which Fisher believed was the fair market value of the property, the parties negotiated a sale price of $710,000. Fisher signed a purchase agreement and paid $50,000 in earnest money, which was deposited in Locators’s escrow account. Fisher then discovered an arithmetic error in the appraisal, which meant the property’s appraised value was nearly $100,000 less than previously stated. Fisher immediately notified Pritchard, terminated the contract, and demanded Speaks return his earnest money. Speaks refused. Fisher filed suit, seeking the return of his earnest money and other damages. Fisher asserted a claim for negligent misrepresentation against Pugh, alleging that Pugh should have foreseen that Thomas would give the appraisal to prospective buyers. Fisher also sued Speaks, Locators, and the Comer Plantation owners for fraudulent misrepresentation. The trial court granted summary judgment against Fisher, and Fisher appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Maddox, J.)

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