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Kutzin v. Pirnie - and defendant’s retention of that...

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Kutzin v. Pirnie 124 N.J. 500 (1991) Fact: Operative Facts: The plaintiff was a buyer, in a real estate contract to purchase a property. The price was $365k, and they put a 10% deposit down on the property. The contract did not contain a forfeiture, or liquidated damages clause, with reference to the disposition of the deposit, should the sale not take place. It only stated “If this contract is voided by either party, the escrow monies shall be disbursed pursuant to the written direction of both parties.” Buyer then decided not to make the purchase and told that to the sellers. Sellers refused to return the deposit, and sued for specific performance. Buyer countered, stating they want their deposit back. During the lawsuit, seller sold the house for 352k (13k less), and is suing for damages. Issue: Whether the seller can keep the whole deposit Rule: To apply the restitution doctrine, a defendant obtained a benefit at a plaintiff’s expense;
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Unformatted text preview: and defendant’s retention of that benefit without compensating the plaintiff would be unfair. Rational: Because there was no liquidation or a clause that stated what was to be done in case a party backed out of the contract, the restitution applies. Although the buyer put up a deposit as a money down on a property, the seller, through restitution, was only allowed to keep the amount he was injured for, and taking more than the amount would violate the idea of restitution. They had to refund the portion of the deposit to the buyer, that the sellers wasn’t harmed for. Holding: The USSC held that, through restitution, the sellers can only keep the amount of money that they were damaged for, from the buyers. Anymore, would unjustly enriched the seller. A breacher of the contract can also use the doctrine of restitution. Synthesis: Dissent/Concurrences:...
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