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Sheehy v. Galipeau

Decided: December 20, 1957.

JOHN P. SHEEHY AND EDNA M. SHEEHY, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
GEORGE R. GALIPEAU, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Clapp, Jayne and Schettino. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

Ordinarily the time within which a party can change his mind with legal immunity concerning a contractual transaction expires upon the execution of the agreement.

We acquire from the evidence in the present case the following narrative of the pertinent events. The plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Sheehy, desired to convey their residential property consisting of a relatively large two-story dwelling situate upon approximately two acres of land at the north-east corner of the intersection of Ackerman Avenue and Meadow Lane in the Borough of Saddle River. To accomplish their purpose, they listed the premises for sale with the Board of Realtors of Ridgewood.

The defendant was a resident of East Leverett in the State of Massachusetts who was then interested in acquiring

an abode in Bergen County, New Jersey. He delegated his wife to do the shopping, in which pursuit she consulted one John E. Catlin, a realtor, by whom her attention was attracted to the plaintiffs' property.

On September 22, 1955 the defendant with his wife viewed the characteristics of the residence and its surroundings and entrusted Mr. Catlin with their deposit of $500. The following day the defendant entered into an agreement in writing with the plaintiffs to purchase the premises for the sum of $34,500.

The sale was not consummated. The defendant has candidly divulged the explanation:

"Q. Will you tell us what happened thereafter with respect to the property and your contract and agreement. A. Well, unfortunately I haven't checked this. We have a daughter who was then about thirteen and when she found out that we were going to move and sell the house she was very upset about it, and having lost her mother a few years before under doctors' advice they suggested if I didn't have to move that I shouldn't change residence at this time; that it might have some effect.

Q. So then what did you do? A. Well, the following Sunday which was one week -- Friday is eight days, I believe, after thinking it over and talking with a lot of people and being rather confused about it, I finally made up my mind, called Mr. Catlin and asked him to prevail upon the Sheehys to let me out of the contract for the house."

The plaintiffs declined voluntarily to discharge the defendant from his contractual obligation to purchase the property. Negotiations of settlement ensued. The proposal of the defendant was:

"Q. I think you stated something about putting $2,000 in escrow. Were there any conditions to that putting $2,000 in escrow? A. Yes. The condition was that we would have a length of time within which I stated I felt that June 1 -- until June 1, to take advantage of whatever the best market was; that is, the spring market.

Q. And your agreement was that the house would be kept on the market until June 1? A. That is correct, that we would hope to have sold it, but that June 1 the money in escrow would then become available if it had not been sold or if it had to be sold for less than $34,500.

Q. You mean to say that you were going to give the Sheehys the $2,000 if it had not been sold by ...


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