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Reider v. Slockbower

Decided: February 2, 1931.

WILLIAM REIDER ET AL., RESPONDENTS,
v.
EMMA SLOCKBOWER, APPELLANT



On appeal from judgments of the Supreme Court.

For the appellant, Morris & Downing and Lewis Van Blarcom.

For the respondents, George R. Vaughan.

Donges

The opinion of the court was delivered by

DONGES, J. This appeal involves judgments in favor of plaintiffs-respondents against defendant-appellant, in three separate suits, tried together at Sussex Circuit.

In their complaints respondents alleged there was a contract for the sale of the lots; that they paid in full to the agent of appellant; that they expended large sums of money in furnishing and improving the houses and premises; that appellant declined to perform the contracts, but, on the other hand, ejected respondents from the premises and converted their property to her own use. The damages claimed were the moneys paid to appellant, through her agent, and, also, for the value of the property alleged to have been unlawfully converted by appellant.

The proofs tended to show that appellant was the owner of a tract of land and arranged with one John J. Fredericks to develop same; that Fredericks, as agent for appellant, entered into contracts with respondents for the sale and conveyance to them of lots, upon each of which lots Fredericks was to erect a bungalow; that appellant did not sign the contracts, nor was she designated as the vendor. Fredericks signed as vendor. The full purchase price in each case was paid to Fredericks. Respondents spent money on the bungalows and grounds and furnished the bungalows. Appellant declined to perform the contracts signed by Fredericks and, finally, dispossessed respondents.

It was testified by respondents and by Fredericks that appellant had instructed the purchasers to deal with Fredericks in the matter; that he was authorized to act as her agent in the transactions; and that she was fully informed as to what was taking place between Fredericks and respondents and by her conduct acquiesced in and ratified his conduct.

Eight grounds of appeal are written down, of which numbers two, three and eight are abandoned.

The first ground of appeal is that the contract between Fredericks and Reider and the contract between Fredericks and Pifer were erroneously admitted in evidence.

Appellant asserts that because the contracts in question did not comply with the provisions of the statute of frauds "that no action shall be brought upon any contract for the sale of lands, tenements or hereditaments or any interest therein, or concerning them, unless the agreement on which such action shall be brought or some memorandum or note thereof shall be in writing and signed by the party to be charged therewith or some other person thereunto by him or her lawfully authorized," they could not be admitted in evidence.

The contracts did not comply with the statute and could not be enforced to compel conveyance of the lots by the appellant. In view of the testimony as to the agency of Fredericks, they were admissible as evidence of the transaction ...


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