Procedural Posture

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The Superior Court of San Diego County (California) entered a judgment in favor of respondent assignee and denied a new trial requested by plaintiff buyer, who had bought land from the assignor. After the buyer defaulted on the purchase agreement, the buyer sought to recover money alleged to have been paid as part of the purchase price. The buyer appealed.

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Overview

The assignor transferred his rights to a contract of sale to the assignee, his wife. The agreement of sale consisted of two documents, a contract of sale and a declaration of trust. When the buyer defaulted, the trustee sold the property to the assignee for the exact sum remaining due for the principal, interest, and costs upon the agreement. The buyer then sought to recover from the assignee the amounts that the buyer had already paid upon the purchase price. The court decided that the trial court had erred in its interpretations of the contract and trust agreement. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment and order that had been in favor of the assignee and that had denied the buyer’s motion for a new trial. The trial court had erred in concluding that one of the large installments was not credited upon the principal indebtedness. The clause in issue as to that installment should not have been construed as a statement of conditions that would deprive the buyer of the benefits of a deed for the lot. Rather, it should have been construed as a mere directory provision for the application of payments. In addition, the buyer was not required to demand a release.

Outcome

The court reversed the judgment that had been in favor of the assignee as well as reversing the order denying the buyer’s motion for a new trial.

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