from the District Court of Mountrail County, North Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Richard L. Hagar, Judge.
Conroy, Bottineau, N.D., for plaintiffs and appellants.
E. Bergman, Minot, N.D., for defendant and appellee.
W. VandeWalle, C.J., Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers,
Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner. Opinion of the
Court by VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
[¶1] Jerry and Linda Lumley appealed from a
judgment dismissing their action against Elaine Kapusta for
specific performance of an oral contract to convey real
property located in Mountrail County. Because the district
court's finding that there was no enforceable oral
contract between the parties is not clearly erroneous, we
affirm the judgment.
[¶2] The Lumleys were long-time tenant
farmers of Kapusta's property in Mountrail County.
Kapusta resided in Virginia and wanted to sell her North
Dakota property. Linda Lumley and Kapusta had telephone
conversations in 2012 about the Lumleys purchasing some of
the property. Linda Lumley told Kapusta she would obtain an
appraisal of the property. Dacotah Bank conducted an "
Agricultural Real Estate In-House Evaluation," which
specifically warned " [t]his evaluation is not an
appraisal," and valued the property at $525,827. Butch
Haugland, who is not a licensed appraiser, also conducted an
evaluation and valued the property $60,000 higher than the
[¶3] Based on the bank's valuation, the
Lumleys sent Kapusta a cashier's check for $525,827,
deeds to be executed by Kapusta, and a note instructing her
that " [t]he purchase of all the property is contingent
upon all documents being signed, notarized, and returned the
same day as signed." Kapusta endorsed and deposited the
check in a bank and signed the deeds, but did not return the
executed deeds to the Lumleys. According to Kapusta and her
daughter, they telephoned Linda Lumley and told her they did
not understand why there had been no appraisal of the
property and they wanted one performed. Shortly afterward,
Kapusta returned the money to the Lumleys.
[¶4] The Lumleys sued Kapusta for specific
performance of their alleged oral contract to convey the
property. Following a bench trial, the district court found
there was no enforceable oral contract between the parties,
but only an offer by the Lumleys to purchase the property,
was rejected by Kapusta. The court dismissed ...