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Harvey v. Dow

Maine Supreme Court
962 A.2d 322 (2008)


Facts

Jeffrey Dow, Sr. and his wife, Kathryn Dow (defendants), owned approximately 125 acres of land in two adjoining parcels, one parcel being 50 acres and the other parcel totaling 75 acres. The Dows’ daughter, Teresa Harvey (plaintiff), and son, Jeffrey Dow, Jr., each had placed mobile homes on the property with their parents’ permission. Each of the children understood that one day the entire property would become theirs. Teresa decided to build a house on the property in a location she had always talked about with her parents. Jeffrey, Sr. obtained the required building permit and construction began. Teresa’s father personally assisted in the building process. After construction of the $200,000 home was completed, the relationship between Teresa and Jeffrey, Sr. deteriorated. Teresa thereafter asked her father for a deed to the property on which the home sat, but he refused. Teresa filed a seven-count suit against the Dows including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and seeking an order compelling the Dows to convey the property to her. The Dows counterclaimed seeking a judgment that Teresa had no rights in the property. The trial court found that the Dows had given Teresa a general, non-specific promise to convey the land to her and Jeffrey, Jr., at some point in the future. As such, the statement was too indefinite and vague to constitute a binding promise. The trial court held for the Dows and Teresa appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Mead, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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