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McCarthy v. Tobin

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
706 N.E.2d 629 (1999)


Facts

John McCarthy (plaintiff) entered dealings to purchase a house from Ann Tobin (defendant). During the negotiations, McCarthy and Tobin drafted an offer-to-purchase form (OTP). The OTP contained provisions describing the property and essential terms that were being proposed. The OTP also included a deadline to execute a final formal agreement of sale. The final formal agreement would represent the official agreement between McCarthy and Tobin when they were ready to close. The OTP also included provisions indicating that time was of the essence and that the provisions within the OTP were binding. McCarthy’s attorney and Tobin’s attorney negotiated the terms of the agreement well after the deadline included in the OTP, but neither attorney objected to this. The attorneys finally came to agreeable terms and McCarthy informed Tobin that the agreement would be signed and sent within the next couple of days. The next day, Tobin accepted an offer from the DiMinicos to purchase the same property. McCarthy brought suit against Tobin for breach of contract and the trial court held in favor of McCarthy, awarding McCarthy specific performance. The DiMinicos intervened and appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Abrams, J.)

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