On motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff sues defendant to recover some $5,200 in interest allegedly due as a result of the asserted failure of defendant to pay promptly the sum of $85,000, which the parties agreed would be the purchase price for the sale of two parcels of land of the East Orange Water Reserve.
The matter is before the court on cross-motions for summary judgment in accordance with a written stipulation of facts entered into by the parties. This stipulation makes unnecessary a detailed recital of what transpired, although a brief summary is in order.
In the summer of 1961 the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of East Orange (board) agreed to accept a total of $85,000 for the property in question -- $70,000 for one portion and $15,000 for the other. In September 1961 the Essex County Right of Way Commission rendered an award in the stipulated amounts. The agreement of the board to the award is evidenced by its resolution of July 26, 1961, stating in part:
"* * * and we hereby agree to execute and deliver a deed satisfactory to said county conveying said premises, free from all encumbrances, to the County of Essex."
It was not until June 1962 that the county engineer forwarded the deeds to the board which, on June 18, 1962, authorized the mayor and city clerk of East Orange to execute the deeds. The execution of the deeds was also authorized in July by the city council of East Orange. In August 1962 the deeds were duly executed by the city and forwarded to the county engineer.
The lands in question were part of a road improvement. Defendant went into possession and commenced construction on or about August 1, 1962.
The stipulation is silent as to anything happening until December 27, 1962, when Lawyers Clinton Title Insurance Co., from whom the county sought title insurance, demanded a quitclaim deed from the board. This demand was made as a result of litigation pending between East Orange and its board. See City of East Orange v. Board of Water Commissioners of City of East Orange , 73 N.J. Super. 440 (Law Div. March 30, 1962), affirmed 40 N.J. 334 (June 13, 1963).
In the trial of City of East Orange v. Board of Water Commissioners of City of East Orange , Judge Giuliano concluded, among other things, that the city council and not the board had exclusive control over the disposition of water reserve lands of the city. In affirming, the Supreme Court held the city and not the board had power to execute instruments conveying interests in the city's water reserve lands, which brought this issue to a final disposition on June 13, 1962.
Coming back to the case at bar, matters proceeded in a leisurely fashion after Lawyers Clinton demanded the quitclaim deed. There was no pressure from the city.
After correspondence in April 1963 between the county and the city quitclaim deeds from the board were forwarded by the board to the county. Certain changes and additions were sought by the county and the quitclaim deeds, as modified, were on June 21, 1963 returned duly executed to the county, together with appropriate resolutions of the board. After the execution of vouchers, a check in the amount of $85,000 was on August 13, 1963 forwarded to the city counsel of East
Orange. It was made payable to the city of East Orange or the board of water commissioners of the city. In a letter dealing with the vouchers dated July 15, 1963, Essex County Counsel ...