Larson v. Burton Construction

421 P.3d 538 (2018)

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Larson v. Burton Construction

Wyoming Supreme Court
421 P.3d 538 (2018)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

Justin Larson (defendant) contracted with Burton Construction, Inc. (Burton) (plaintiff) to purchase a new mobile home. Larson signed the document and provided earnest money for the sale. Burton took the money and countersigned. The contract was a form contract designed for selling used mobile homes rather than new units. As a result, one of the contract provisions required Burton to provide a Wyoming title at closing. Burton was a reseller of mobile homes and did not ever take title itself. Instead of title, Burton would deliver a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, which could later be used by a buyer to gain title after paying sales tax. Wyoming sales tax was charged only on the first sale of a mobile home. However, Burton’s realtor erroneously assured the escrow agent that Burton would deliver title to Larson at closing in accordance with the agreement, and the escrow agent prepared statements removing Larson’s sales-tax obligation. When Burton failed to provide title at closing, Larson was obligated to pay the additional sales tax on his purchase. Larson cancelled the closing, and Burton filed suit in Wyoming circuit court for breach of contract. The circuit court found that the parties made a mutual mistake and ordered Burton to return Larson’s earnest money and cancel the contract. Burton appealed to Wyoming district court, which reversed, finding that Larson breached the contract by cancelling the closing. Larson appealed to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fox, J.)

Dissent (Kautz, J.)

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