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Williams v. Ubaldo

Supreme Court of Maine
670 A.2d 913 (1996)


Facts

John Ubaldo (defendant) contracted to buy a house from Roger and Cynthia Williams (plaintiffs) for $450,000. The agreement provided that Ubaldo would furnish a down payment of $10,000 and pay the balance at closing. Additionally, the contract conditioned Ubaldo’s obligation to pay upon his ability to acquire sufficient financing. If Ubaldo breached the contract, the Williamses were entitled to keep the deposit. Before closing, the Williamses agreed to offer Ubaldo extra time to secure financing. At closing, the money was not paid to the Williamses. Eventually, the Williamses brought suit against Ubaldo, seeking specific performance of the contract and release of the deposit from escrow. Ubaldo filed his own complaint to recoup the deposit. The Williamses were able to sell the house to a different buyer for $430,000 prior to trial. No appraiser testified at trial, and the trial court concluded that Ubaldo had breached the contract. The trial court awarded three kinds of damages to the Williamses: (1) $20,000 in compensatory damages, calculated by finding the difference between the contract price and the subsequent sale price; (2) $3,500 for real-estate taxes that the Williamses paid between the time of breach and sale; and (3) $500 in special damages for snow-removal expenses, because the Williamses had sold their snow-removal equipment in anticipation of their move from the home. The trial court entered judgment in the Williamses’ favor for $14,000, constituting the total damages offset by the $10,000 deposit that Ubaldo had already paid. Ubaldo appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Wathen, C.J.)

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