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Handler v. Horns

Supreme Court of New Jersey
65 A.2d 523 (1949)


Fred Horns leased a commercial building from his parents and spent $89,000 installing refrigeration equipment and building cold storage areas. Upon the death of Horns’ parents, title to the building passed by will to Horns and his two sisters. Horns continued to operate his business in the building after the original lease expired. Horns entered into a new lease agreement with his sisters. A clause in the new lease prohibited removal by the tenant of any fixtures that could not be removed without causing damage to the premises. After the new lease expired, Horns continued to operate his business under a year-to-year lease. Fred Horns ultimately passed away and left his business and his interest in the fixtures by will to his son, Henry Horns (defendant). Hazel Handler (plaintiff), cousin of Henry Horns and owner of a one third interest in the commercial building, initiated a suit for partition and sale of the building. Handler asserted that the equipment and improvements installed by Fred Horns had become affixed to the real estate and were not subject to removal by Henry Horns. Henry Horns maintained that he acquired ownership by will of the improvements installed by his father, and that he retained the right to remove the improvements as trade fixtures. The trial court ordered the sale of the building without partition and found that the improvements installed by Fred Horns had become affixed to the property and must be included in the sale. The appellate court upheld the trial court ruling. Henry Horns appealed to the supreme court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ackerson, J.)

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