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Green v. Higgins

Supreme Court of Kansas
535 P.2d 446 (1975)


Facts

Damon and Cleo Higgins (defendants) sold a tract of land to Robert Brown and Mark Gilman. As part of the sale’s consideration, the Higginses agreed to give Brown and Gilman a right of first refusal to purchase an adjacent piece of land. Relatedly, the Higginses agreed to give Lienna McCulley, a real-estate agent, the right to handle any sale of the land tract to which Brown and Gilman had negotiated the right of first refusal. McCulley only had the right to handle the sale if it occurred prior to June 1, 1971. On April 21, 1971, the Higginses entered into a contract to sell the adjacent tract of land to Philip and Barbara Green (plaintiffs) for $30,000. At that time, the Greens gave the Higginses $100. The Higginses and the Greens dated the sale contract as June 2, 1971, to avoid having to pay McCulley a commission. The Higginses then told the Greens that Brown and Gilman held a right of first refusal to purchase the land. To address this problem, the Greens created a fake sale contract between the Higgins and a company owned by Philip Green for the excessive price of $40,000. The Higginses sent the fake sale contract to Brown and Gilman, who declined to exercise their right of first refusal. The Higginses then notified the Greens that they did not wish to sell the property. The Greens responded by sending the Higginses the remaining $29,900 of the purchase price and demanding a deed to the property. When the Higginses refused to sell, the Greens sued them for specific performance. The Higginses counterclaimed for damages and to quiet title to their land. The Greens moved for summary judgment. In response, the Higginses filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Greens should not be granted equitable relief because they had defrauded both McCulley, and Brown and Gilman. The district court found that both parties had come to court with unclean hands, making both ineligible for relief. The district court thus dismissed the Greens’ petition for specific performance and the Higginses’ counterclaim for damages and to quiet title. The Greens appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Prager, J.)

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