February 27, 2008

Description of real property in contract for sale failed to adequately define dimensions and was therefore unenforceable under the statute of frauds

BRIGADOON PARTNERS, LLC v. DALE HUGHES, ET AL. (Tenn.Ct.App. February 27, 2008).

The plaintiff purchaser brought this action for specific performance of an agreement for the sale of a parcel of real estate. The trial court granted the seller summary judgment upon its finding, among other things, that the property description in the agreement was insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the statute of frauds. We affirm the trial court's judgment that the description of the property, which was to be divided from a larger tract owned by the seller, as "[i]n Cleveland, Tennessee, fronting on Paul Huff Pkwy at exit 27, and being further described as 1.5 acres fronting on the PKWY and I-75," was insufficient, and therefore the sale agreement was unenforceable pursuant to the statute of frauds.

Cases available at the Tennessee Bar Association website:

"As in Gorbics, the property description in the agreement in this case makes it possible to ascertain one definite corner of the property to be sold – the southwest corner – because the tract is said to front I-75 and the Paul Huff Parkway. But it is impossible to tell the shape or dimensions of the parcel, and to determine how much, if any, frontage on Ellis Circle Drive the parties intended to include in the sale, because, as in Gorbics, the parcel to be sold was to be divided from a larger tract owned by the sellers. The trial court so held, noting that “[t]here is an unlimited number of shapes that this property could in the defendants’ four acres2 that this Court is not at liberty to make decisions concerning.” Because “the description employed is one that must necessarily apply with equal exactness to any one of an indefinite number of tracts,” Dobson v. Litton, 45 Tenn. (5 Cold.) at 620, 1868 WL 2161 at *2, parol evidence was inadmissible to show that the parties intended to designate a particular tract by the description. Id." Id.