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Tucker v. Williams

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

January 10, 2017

JONATHAN TUCKER, Plaintiff
v.
CRYSTAL WILLIAMS and ERIC NICHOLS, Defendants

          JUDGMENT

          Nancy Mills, Justice

         Background

         Plaintiff filed two separate complaints against both defendants on August 6, 2014 and November 24, 2014. Plaintiff alleges three causes of action against both defendants: breach of contract, count I; unjust enrichment, count II; and punitive damages, count III. An answer, filed in CV-14-356 on May 29, 2014, has not been considered by the court because it was not signed by a person who is a party or who is licensed to practice law in Maine. Defendant Williams was defaulted on September 10, 2015. Plaintiff's complaints were consolidated on July 14, 2016.

         Jury-waived trial on plaintiff's complaints was held on November 21, 2016. Notice of trial dated November 2, 2016 was sent to the parties. Plaintiff appeared with counsel. Defendants did not appear.

         Findings of Fact

         In March 2013, plaintiff negotiated with defendant Williams to buy from her a 6.6 acre parcel of land for $15, 000.00, including a $10, 000.00 down payment and $5, 000.00 paid over time. Plaintiff visited the parcel with defendant Williams, who was very clear about the boundaries of the parcel. Defendant Williams represented the "land is free and clear of any and all liens. There are No secrets or hidden surprises." (Pl.'s Exs. 1, 6-7.)

         On April 9, 2013, plaintiff withdrew $10, 000.00 from his account. Within a few days after that date, he paid the down payment to defendant Williams with a cashier's check for $9, 900.00 and cash of $100.00 at defendant Williams's request. (Pl.'s Exs. 2, 4.) She did not want IRS scrutiny. (Pl.'s Exs. 1, 3, 10.) Plaintiff had never purchased land previously.

         Defendant Williams did not own the parcel when she accepted plaintiff's down payment. She and Sherman Thomason had conveyed the parcel to defendant Nichols on March 18, 2013. (Pl.'s Ex. 1A; Pl.'s Ex. 1, 8.) Their remaining land was conveyed to others on March 15 and 18, 2013. (Pl.'s Exs. 6, 8.) On April 8, 2013, defendant Williams informed plaintiff that defendant Nichols "just bought six acres from me but after telling him of you and your needs he agreed to sell it to you and work out something else with me . . . We walked there yesterday . . it is so beautiful and QUIET. There will be NO issues. Warranty deed assures that it is free and clear." (Pl.'s Ex.1 8.)

         Plaintiff and defendant Nichols went to the Registry of Deeds and learned that an IRS lien for $28, 000.00 or $29, 000.00 was on the parcel. A day or two later, plaintiff and defendant Nichols entered a purchase and sale agreement for the parcel; the agreement is dated April 12, 2013. (Pl.'s Ex. 3.) The parties discussed waiting for 90 days to determine whether the lien could be lifted. (Pl.'s Exs. 1, 12.) The contingency of conveying a different parcel to plaintiff is an impossibility. Defendant Nichols informed plaintiff that no other land could be substituted because it is owned by Luke Thomason and Tanya Farrington-Thomason. (Pl.'s Exs. 113; 6; 8; see Pl.'s Ex. 112.)

         Defendant Williams's conciliatory approach to plaintiff changed after he discovered the facts. (Pl.'s Exs. 1, 12-13.) She eventually threatened plaintiff and alleged he was harassing her and stalking her daughter-in-law. In an unsigned email dated July 3, 2013 sent from defendant Nichols's email account but, the court reasonably infers, written by defendant Williams, she threatened a restraining order against plaintiff and mandated that the matter henceforth was between plaintiff and defendant Nichols solely. (Pl.'s Exs. 1-B, 4.)

         On July 10, 2013, defendant Nichols advised plaintiff that "the lien is a drag" and "Sometimes things just go wrong." (Pl.'s Ex. 1-C.) On July 25, 2013, defendant Nichols informed plaintiff that defendants had split up, [1] defendant Nichols was leaving, and he could not take care of the issue until spring. (Pl.'s Ex. 1-D.) That was plaintiff's last contact with defendants.

         The IRS lien on the parcel has not been satisfied. Plaintiff's $10, 000.00 down payment has never been returned to him. No deed conveying the parcel to plaintiff has been executed.

         Conclusions of Law

         Count I: ...


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