Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
Rosenfeld v. Zerneck
4 Misc.3d 193, 776 N.Y.S.2d 458 (Sup. Ct. Kings Co., NY, May 4, 2004)
Email Accepting Offer To Purchase Real Property Satisfies Statute Of Frauds
Court holds that email sent by defendant accepting plaintiff's offer to purchase real property, upon which defendant typed his name, satisfies the requirement of the Statute of Frauds that contracts for the transfer of an interest in real property be evidenced by a writing. The Court nonetheless dismissed plaintiffs' claim, seeking specific performance of the parties' alleged agreement, because the emails the parties exchanged failed to contain all of the essential terms of a contract for the sale of real property.
Plaintiffs made an all cash offer to purchase defendant's house. Defendant responded in an email, in which he accepted plaintiffs' offer, set a date by which the sale must close, and stated that the offer was not subject to any financing contingences. A written contract of sale was to follow. At the foot of the e-mail, defendant typed his name. When the parties subsequently failed to consummate their transaction, plaintiffs brought this suit for specific performance.
On defendant's motion for summary judgment, the Court held that defendant's email satisfied the requirements of the Statute of Frauds that contracts for the sale of real property be evidenced by a writing signed by the party to be charged. Said the court:
In reach this result, the Court relied upon a 1994 amendment to the Statute of Frauds, which, as amended provided that:
The Court nonetheless granted defendant's motion, and dismissed plaintiffs' complaint, because the defendant's email failed to contain several "essential terms," including the amount of a down payment, and the treatment of a commercial lease encumbering the property.
In reaching this result, the Court distinguished a decision of the Court of Appeals in Parma Title v. Estate of Short, 87 N.Y.2d 524 (1996) which held that:
This appears to leave the question of whether an email sent by an individual from a computer which is programmed automatically to list his name and contact information at the foot thereof will satisfy the Statute of Frauds.