February 28, 2008

Parties purchasing sewer taps for future use should contract for exclusivity and priority of their use

JOHN R. SHOMO ET AL. v. CITY OF FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE (Tenn.Ct.App. February 25, 2008).

The Shomos owned several sewer taps on undeveloped property. The City of Franklin sold sewer taps on the property, offering lower prices than the Shomos. The Shomos sued Franklin asserting causes of action for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion, and violation of the duties of a public utility. The trial court granted Franklin's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the complaint contained no set of facts that would entitle the Shomos to any relief according to law. We affirm.

Opinion available at the Tennessee Bar Association website: http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2008/shomoj_022508.pdf

"The Shomos contend that Wills had an 'understanding' with MLSTC that as to the Wills properties these taps would be sold first. An 'understanding' is not necessarily an enforceable contract. In fact, the Shomos have failed to allege that Wills and MLSTC had a binding or enforceable contract regarding MSLTC’s sale of future taps. The Shomos attach great significance to a letter written by Franklin’s attorney in 2002. Yet, what is absent from that letter is more significant than what is in it. The letter contains no indication by Franklin of exclusivity or priority for the Shomos’ taps in relation to the Wills properties. It recognizes the right of Wills or his affiliates to use the taps in connection with his properties. It does not recognize an obligation on Franklin’s part to require the use of those taps at the beginning of development or at any time thereafter." Id.