Wheeler-Dealer, Ltd v Christ (IL)

379 Ill App 3d 864, 885 NE2d 350, 319 Ill Dec 79 (1st D 2008).

Facts: Richard Christ (buyer) attended a real estate auction on Oct. 4, 2004. At the auction, Christ bid on and won a piece of real estate listed in the auction brochure as 12531 S. Vincennes, in Blue Island, IL. Wheeler-Dealer, Ltd. (seller) had placed for auction the East 165 feet of the lot at question, retaining a small portion where a sign was standing. The contract for sale entered into by the parties reflected this, however the deed finally delivered to the buyer contained the legal description of the entire lot. The attorney for the seller admitted that the deed contained a scrivener's error in the legal description, which he discovered only months after closing. For his part, the buyer testified that at all times he believed he was purchasing the entire lot, although he admitted not reading all of the auction materials. The seller admitted to being at the auction and never mentioning to the buyer that he was selling less than the entire lot or instructing the auctioneer to make an announcement to this effect.

The seller brought a suit against the buyer for reformation of the deed or recission. The trial court ruled in favor of the buyer on both of the seller's claims, reformation and recission of the deed.

Holding: Affirmed. The seller chose not to appeal the trial court's decision on the issue of recission. Therefore, the appellate court only reviewed the issue of reformation. For reformation to be available, the party seeking it must prove that a mistake of fact, not of law, was made and that it was a mutual mistake. Parol evidence is allowed in a case where mutual mistake is alleged. The court found that mistakes can be divided into two categories; (1) mistakes as to an essential element of the contract, where there is no meeting of the minds, (2) mistakes where there is an actual meeting of the minds and the written agreement fails to conform. The court stated that mistakes as to the subject matter of the contract fall into the first category and are subject to possible recission, but not reformation. The court found there was no meeting of the minds in this instance, and therefore there can be no reformation. The court denied the seller's argument for reformation on unjust enrichment grounds, because it found the theory inapplicable to cases involving a written contract.

Opinion Year: 
By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Wed, 11/05/2008 - 1:17pm