Friday, April 30, 2010

Court reviews claim of misrepresentation in a case about a purchase of property

JIMMY E. HOLT ET AL. v. SHAWN R. WILMOTH (Tenn. Ct. App. April 30, 2010)

Shawn R. Wilmoth ("the Buyer") approached Jimmy E. Holt about buying a building Mr. Holt owned jointly with his wife Betty L. Holt (collectively "the Sellers"). The Sellers advised they were only willing to sell the building if they could also sell the inventory from their lamp business that was stored in the building. The Buyer agreed to purchase the building and the inventory. The purchase of the inventory was accomplished through a promissory note in the amount of $250,000. Subsequently, the Buyer paid $150,000 toward the note but refused to pay the balance of $100,000.

The Sellers filed suit to collect the balance owed on the note. In his answer and counterclaim, the Buyer alleged that Sellers represented the value of the goods to be $500,000, but that he only realized $65,000 through liquidation of the goods and that $65,000 was the true value of the inventory. The Buyer alleged that the figure he was given constituted an intentional misrepresentation and, when compared to the amount he recovered from the goods, amounted to a failure of consideration. The Buyer asked to recover damages that included the difference in the amount he paid on the note and the amount he realized out of the liquidation, that difference being $85,000.

After a bench trial, the trial court determined that there was no intentional misrepresentation and dismissed the counterclaim. Nevertheless, the trial court refused to award the Sellers a recovery on the unpaid balance of the note. The court stated that it was leaving the parties where it found them. The Sellers appeal, raising issues; the Buyer, by way of his own issue, challenges the trial court's refusal to award him damages. We reverse and remand the case to the trial court with instructions to enter a judgment in favor of the Sellers and consider their prayer for prejudgment interest.

Opinion may be found at: