Plaintiff agreed to buy and defendant to sell, three contiguous parcels of property. The parties had set a time of the essence closing date, at which closing, plaintiff did not appear. However, a week before that closing, plaintiff’s attorney informed defendant’s that the lender’s appraisal was pending, and asked to adjourn the closing. Defendant’s counsel did not reply. The day before the closing, the attorneys communicated, but about issues unrelated to the actual closing or the request for an adjournment. On the closing date, seller appeared but buyer did not. Seller declared buyer’s breach and retained the downpayment.
Plaintiff-buyer sued, arguing that based on the parties’ prior practices of adjourning the closing, and defendant’s counsel’s failure to respond, led the buyer to a good faith belief that the time of the essence closing date had been adjourned. Plaintiff also pointed out that title revealed more than $11 million in outstanding mortgages, far exceeding the almost $4 million purchase prices, and that the seller had made no effort address those mortgages prior to the closing date.
The lower court dismissed plaintiff’s case, finding that it was not able to close and had failed to object to the title defects prior to the closing date. With plaintiff-buyer’s default defendant-seller was relieved from performance.