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Sprague v. Kimball

Supreme Court of Massachusetts
100 N.E. 622 (1913)


Facts

Kimball (defendant) owned real estate and divided it into lots according to a subdivision plan. Sprague (plaintiff) purchased four lots and part of a fifth lot under deeds that imposed setback requirements for construction on the lots. Kimball retained ownership of part of the fifth lot and later sold it to Grossman without incorporating the setback restrictions into the deed. The deed to Grossman incorporated the subdivision plan by reference, but the plan itself contained no reference to any setback restrictions. Sprague filed suit to enjoin Kimball’s sale to Grossman without imposing the same restrictions that affected Sprague’s lots. Sprague argued that reliance on the applicability of the restrictions to all the lots in the subdivision served as an inducement to Sprague’s purchase from Kimball and that equity demanded that Kimball impose the same restrictions upon the purchaser of the land retained by Kimball. The trial court concluded that any agreement by Kimball to subject the retained property to the same restrictions amounted only to an oral agreement. Because the statute of frauds required the conveyance of any interest in real property to be memorialized in writing, the trial court concluded as a matter of law that Kimball’s oral agreement to subject the retained property to use restrictions was unenforceable. The trial court dismissed Sprague’s complaint. Sprague appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Braley, J.)

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