Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Stephen E. Pendleton and Jeanette B. Pendleton, No. 1 April Term, 1970.
Michael J. Dowd, with him Dowd & Kocsis, for appellant.
Robert J. Murphy, with him William J. Davis, and Davis and Murphy, for appellees.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Kramer did not participate. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 602]
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Commonwealth) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County denying specific performance of two option land sale contracts entered into with Stephen and Jeanette Pendleton (Pendletons), Appellees herein. For reasons hereinafter stated, we reverse.
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 603]
On June 25, 1963, the Pendletons entered into the first of two written option agreements with the Pennsylvania Game Commission for the sale of a 24.3-acre tract of land to be purchased at $20.00 per acre made binding by a $1.00 cash deposit. On October 14, 1963, the Commonwealth accepted the land purchase option in writing.
It was eventually discovered that the deed conveying the premises lacked the signature of one of the grantors in its acknowledgment. Notice of this defect in the title was given to the Pendletons on or about September 4, 1964, and sometime thereafter, the Pendletons notified the Commonwealth that they would secure the signature of the grantor and thus remove the impairment. Prior to the defect being cured, the parties entered into a second written option agreement on November 29, 1968, for the sale of a 667-acre tract of land to be purchased at $67.00 per acre. The Commonwealth paid a cash deposit of $1.00 to bind the agreement and on January 17, 1969, accepted same by sending written notification to the Pendletons. On February 19, 1969, the Commonwealth engaged a local attorney to abstract the titles. A survey of both tracts was commenced on March 18, 1969.
In May of 1969, the parties modified the first landpurchase agreement, whereby the Commonwealth agreed to pay an increased price of $67.00 per acre for the 24.3-acre tract, and also agreed that final settlement of this, and the second contract concerning the 667-acre tract, would be made contemporaneously after the title was cleared and the abstract and survey were completed.
The defect in title affecting the two tracts of land was finally cured on May 20, 1969, by the deed of the grantor, who relinquished all interest in the land. On June 9, 1969, the survey was completed, but no abstract had been undertaken. The Commonwealth then terminated the local attorney-abstractor's employment and ordered one of its own agents to pursue the task, which was accomplished in one month's time in February of 1970.
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 604]
During the extended period of delay prior to settlement, the values of the property doubled, and the Pendletons gave notice of their intention to withdraw from the contract. The Commonwealth rejected the offered withdrawal and ...