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Mattei v. Hopper

Supreme Court of California
330 P.2d 625 (1958)



Peter Mattei (plaintiff), a real-estate developer planning to build a shopping center, made several offers to purchase land owned by Amelia Hopper (defendant). After Hopper rejected Mattei's offers because the price was inadequate, Hopper eventually submitted an offer that Mattei accepted on the same day. The parties’ agreement was recorded in a real-estate form called a deposit receipt. According to the agreement, Mattei was to pay a deposit of $1,000, after which he had 120 days to examine the title and pay the rest of the purchase price, subject to “obtaining leases satisfactory to the purchaser.” Mattei included this clause to allow him time to secure leases for the shopping center before paying the full purchase price for the land. Once Mattei paid the remainder of the purchase price, Hopper was obligated to convey the deed. Mattei paid the initial deposit as required by the deposit receipt and began to secure leases, but before the 120-day period expired, Hopper informed Mattei that she was unwilling to proceed with the sale under the terms in the deposit receipt. Although Mattei obtained the leases and offered to pay the balance, Hopper refused to convey the deed as promised in the deposit receipt. Mattei brought an action against Hopper for breaching the agreement in the deposit receipt, and after a non-jury trial, the trial court ruled in favor of Hopper. Mattei appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Spence, J.)

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