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Laporte v. Blum

Superior Court of Vermont, Civil Division
2015 WL 3935297 (2015)


Facts

Lawrence and Ruth Burgess (the grandparents) owned land. On that land, the grandparents also operated a sugarhouse. As the grandparents aged, their grandsons, James and William Laporte (plaintiffs) began running the sugarhouse. Eventually, the grandparents deeded the land to the grandparents’ adult children (defendants). Despite the adult children’s protests, the grandparents gave the Laportes an option to buy the land for $400,000. The Laportes also had a lease allowing them to continue sugaring the land prior to execution of the option. The adult children claimed that the fair-market value of the land was greater than $400,000. The option included a standard recitation that the option was given for $10 and other good and valuable consideration. There was no evidence that the $10 was ever exchanged. The lawyer who drafted the option testified that in his entire career of closings, he never saw anyone exchange the money recited as consideration. The grandfather’s will stated that it was his intent to provide the Laportes the benefits of the option and the lease. It was the grandparents’ desire that the Laportes continue to run the sugaring operation after the grandparents’ deaths. The grandparents died several years later, and the Laportes continued to run the sugaring operation. William Laporte testified that he and his brother would not have continued working on the land without the option and the lease. The adult children then sent the Laportes a letter withdrawing their option. The adult children argued that because the $10 recited in the option was never paid, the option was not supported by consideration and was therefore unenforceable. The Laportes then brought suit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Toor, J.)

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