Wehle v. Price
California Supreme Court
202 Cal. 394 (1927)
Reinhold Wehle (plaintiff) owned a piece of real property on which he granted the Bank of Italy a mortgage in exchange for a $2,600 loan. Wehle needed additional money to pay a legal fine for violating alcohol-prohibition laws. Wehle consulted Walter Price (defendant), who advised Wehle to borrow the money to pay the fine from the Bank of Italy. Wehle was unable to do so and asked Price to loan Wehle the money in exchange for a second mortgage on the real property. Price declined and offered instead to purchase the property, still subject to the Bank of Italy’s mortgage, from Wehle for $700 while granting Wehle the option to repurchase the property for $900 within six months. Moreover, Price agreed that Wehle could retain possession of the property during the option window. An attorney prepared documents that, on their faces, purported to convey the property to Price in exchange for a repurchase option. None of the documents spoke of a loan or a promissory note. Wehle did not exercise the repurchase option within six months. Wehle then filed a court action to have the deed declared a mortgage and to quiet his title to the real property. The trial court ruled in favor of Price, and Wehle appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Preston, J.)
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