oral testimony

oral testimony

How judges determine what constitutes oral testimony that establishes the existence of a writing and when a writing is sufiicient under the statute of frauds.

Also noteworthy is the fact that oral testimony can be elicited that establishes the existence of
a writing that would meet the requirements Lmder the statute of frauds. For example, testimony
regarding an invoice for products sold, when the actual invoice is not produced, is enough in
certain states to meet the requirements under the statute.

Case I2-l demonstrates how judges determine what constitutes oral testimony that establishes
the existence of a writing and when a writing is sufiicient under the statute of frauds.

MARTHA A. NIX AND CHARLES E. UPHAM V. SKIP WICK, CHRISTIE WICK,
AND JAMES OLDFIELD
SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA
2010 Ala. LEXIS 250

FACTS: Skip Wick and mye Christie Wick owned a least 5 acres at a price of 332,5 00 per acre. . . . This
house with approximately 4% acres of land at 296 West is an option for the Uphams to purchase this adjoining
Shugart Ridge in Gardendale. Christie Wick and her acreage.” The contract was closed on April I 6, 2008. On
brother James Oldfield owned several acres of land adja- April 22, 2008, the Wicks and Uphams signed an agree-
cent to and surrounding the Wicks í property. On April 2, ment stating: ìThe Uphams hereby agree to purchase and
2008, the Wicks signed an agreement with Charles Upham the Wicks hereby agree to sell the following described lot
and Martha Nix (a married couple) to sell the home and or other unimproved land and appurtenances thereto sit-
4$ë.- acres to the Upham couple. On the same day, the uated in the City of Gardendale, County oflefir-son, Ala-
Wiclu and Uphains signed an addendum to the April 2 bama on the terms stated below: Address: adjacent to 296
contract stating ìthis agreement is fizr the additional at West Shugart Ridge. . . . This contract is per agreement.

written on Addendum sheet on 4.~”2x”08. î The April 22 con- stunmary judgment against them on all of their claims
tract stated that the addendum was attached; however; no against the Wicks and Oldfield The court noted that the stat-
copies of that contract included the addendum. ute of frauds voids both written contracts with insufficient
Skip Wick testified that prior to the making ofthe initial descriptions of land and oral agreements to sell land Addi-
April 2 contract, the Wicks and the Uphams met and dis- tionally, the Uphams contended that the ìlicks and Old-
cussed the purchase of the 5 adjacent acres. Wick testified field engaged in fraud by attempting to sell land that they
that they ìdiscussed that the potential property lines would did not own outright. The court referred to the precedent of
run jbrty feet to the left ofthe mailbox as you are facing Defriece v. McCorquodale, Bruce v. Cole, and Holman v.
the house, and then would run back to the right corner of Childersburg Bancorporation to appeal to past decisions
the property. ” This description was not included in either which involved legal circumstances similar to that of the
the addendum or the April 22 contract. It is an undisputed Uphams. These cases state that ìregardless of whether the
fact that Skip Wick did not own the 5 acres to the left of misrepresentations allegedly made are viewed as contrac-
the mailbox that he had described to the Uphams. The ma] in nature or as simply fraudulent, they are subject to
Uphams deny that Wick told them that Oldfield was joint the Statute of Frauds because they concern the conveyance
owner ofthe le_ft 5 acres. Wick denied any intent to mislead of an interest of 1andìWhen the Uphams asserted that ìthe
the Uphams. Cotut blew it in DeFriece, Bruce, and Holman” on appeal,
Oldfield, the joint owner ofthe 5 acres, refused to sell the court disregarded this statement as the Uphams did not
the land. The Uphams contended that they would not ìprovide a suffnient basis upon which we could, even if
have purchased the Wicksí house and 4í/: acres if they we were so inclined, OíCl’l’ll.l8 Defriece, Bruce, and Hol-
had known they could not also purchase the left 5 acres. man.” Finally, the Uphams raised additional arguments
The purchasing of the “left five acresî was determined on their appeal which contended that the statute of frauds
via oral testimony between the Uphams and the Wicks. does not bar their tort claims and that they have satisfied
The Uphams sued the Wicks and Oldfield and filed for the elements of promissory fraud. The court asserted that
breach of contract, fiaudulent misrepresentation, sup- the Uphams did not cite authority to support any of those
pression, and fiaudulent inducement. The Wicks and Old- claims. The court concluded that ìit is not the fimction of
field raised a defense appealing to the Statute ofFrauds. this Court to do a party’s legal research or to make and
They argued that the April 22 contract was void under the address legal arguments for a party based on undelineaned
Statute of Frauds because it did not sufficiently describe general propositions not supported by sufftierrt author-
the land to be purchased, that the Uphams í tort claims ity or argument.” Most important, the court noted that the
flriled because they were based on the void April 22 April 22 contract ìdoes not describe the contract with such
contract, and that the Uphams ‘ tort claims were not sup- certainty that it can be identified without resort to oral evi-
ported by suflicient evidence. The trial court ruled in dence ” and thatthis circumstance issubject to thestatute of

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