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Procedural Posture

By: SMITH THOMPSON

Appellant purchasers sought review from a judgment of the Superior Court of Kings County (California), which was entered for respondent property owners, the sellers, in an action to quiet title. The trial court held that the purchasers had forfeited their rights under the contract by a breach of its conditions and gave judgment for the owners.

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Overview

On appeal, the court determined that the contract did not require the purchasers to develop new or additional supplies of water for irrigation purposes and did not contain a specific requirement that they irrigate the crops each season. Thus, the court could not hold that the provision requiring them to cultivate the crops in a good and farmer-like manner compelled them to drill additional wells or develop other sources of supply should the water ordinarily used for irrigation purposes entirely have failed by reason of long or continued droughts. By the terms of the contract the purchasers’ failure to irrigate and mature the crops so that the owners would have received payments on their contract was expressly excused by that clause which provided that where any breach was caused by the elements, acts of God, or by any cause beyond the control of the buyer, that such breach should not have been considered a violation of any of the provisions of the agreement. The two purported breaches of the contract relied upon by the trial court to support the judgment forfeiting the purchasers’ rights under the contract were entirely insufficient to accomplish any such result.

Outcome

The court reversed the trial court’s judgment.

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