Property Keyed to Saxer
Haisfield v. Lape
Kenneth R. Lape and Barbara Gsand Lape owned 148 acres of land known as Oakmont Farm. In 1994, Plaintiffs conveyed 48 acres of their land to Dr. Hamilton Moses III and Alexandra G. Moses. The deed contained an easement granting the Moseses a line-of-sight easement. The easement restricted Plaintiffs from building structures visible from the Moseses home. In 2000, the Lapes’ trustees (Plaintiffs) contracted to sell ninety-nine acres of their remaining land, known as Laurel Ridge Farm, to Audrey Lea Haisfield and Laurel Ridge, LLC (Defendants). Paragraph 14 of the purchase agreement stated that Plaintiffs would convey the property free of encumbrances but, subject to restrictive covenants that did not render title unmarketable. Defendants gave an earnest money deposit of $50,000, which Plaintiffs were entitled to take if Defendants defaulted. The parties agreed to close on June 30, 2000. On June 29, however, Defendants discovered that Laurel Ridge Farm was subject to the line-of-sight easement previously granted to the Moseses. Defendants argued that the easement rendered title unmarketable and, pursuant to the purchase agreement between Defendants and Plaintiffs, Defendants gave Plaintiffs sixty days to cure the defect. She also asserted that, pursuant to Paragraph 14, she was entitled to refuse to close the transaction and to collect her $50,000 deposit if Plaintiffs failed to cure the defect. Plaintiffs disagreed that the easement rendered title unmarketable and sued, claiming their right to the $50,000 deposit as liquidated damages. Defendants counterclaimed, arguing that Plaintiffs lacked marketable title and demanding the return of the deposit. The trial court held that the line-of-sight easement did not render title unmarketable and granted Plaintiffs a judgment of $50,000 plus interest.
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