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North Bay Council, Inc. v. Bruckner

New Hampshire Supreme Court
563 A.2d 428 (1989)


Facts

In 1951, William Morse Cole executed a deed for the conveyance of some real property. The deed imposed several restrictive conditions on the grantee and reserved Cole's right of first refusal on future conveyances. The deed's text explicitly time-limited one restrictive condition to 10 years, but the text made it at least doubtful that the first-refusal clause or any other restrictive condition was time-limited. In 1961, after Cole's death, the grantee offered to sell the property to North Bay Council, Inc. (plaintiff). The council's lawyer, Karl T. Bruckner (defendant), checked Cole's deed and orally advised the council that all of its restrictive conditions were time-limited and had expired. In reliance on Bruckner's opinion, the council went ahead and bought the property in 1962. By 1979, the council realized that the property was unmarketable because the first-refusal clause clouded its title. Cole's heirs claimed the right to purchase the property at the price the council paid for it in 1962. After a court dismissed the council's quiet-title action, the council sued Bruckner for the economic damages it suffered as the result of Bruckner's alleged malpractice. The trial jury returned its verdict for Bruckner, and the council appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

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