Vines v. Orchard Hills, Inc. – Case Brief
Summary of Vines v. Orchard Hills, Inc., 181 Conn. 501, 435 A.2d 1022 (1980).
Facts: Vines (P) placed a down payment of $7,880 on a $78,800 condominium that was being sold by Orchard Hills (D). The contract stipulated that Orchard Hills would retain the down payment as liquidated damages in case of default. Vines was then transferred to New Jersey and decided not to complete the transaction for the real estate. Vines explained the circumstances to Orchard Hills but Orchard Hills refused to refund the down payment.
Vines brought suit and the defendant demurred to the complaint and moved for summary judgment on the issue of damages. The court denied Orchard Hill’s motion and entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff. Orchard Hills appealed.
Issue: Does a defaulting party have the right to seek restitution?
Holding and Rule: Yes. A defaulting party has the right to seek restitution.
A party whose breach is not willful can bring a claim to recover moneys paid that unjustly enrich the seller. The breaching party must satisfy his burden of proof that the other party has acquired a net gain in order for a claim for unjust enrichment to be sustained.
The court held that Vines had the burden of proof in showing that the liquidated damages clause was invalid and unenforceable, or that the seller’s damages were substantially less than the amount of liquidated damages. The court held that the case be remanded for the plaintiff to substantiate his claim.
See Fletcher v. Peck for a constitutional law case brief involving a Contracts Clause issue in the context of a law to repeal certain property rights in real estate.