In Cases Involving Public Auction Sale of Personal or Real Property, a Vendor may bring an Action for Damages or for Purchase Price Against a Purchaser who refuses to Comply with his bid or with the Terms of Sale

In State ex rel. Robins v. Clinger, 72 Idaho 222, (Idaho 1951), the Supreme Court of Idaho stated that a vendor in a public auction could maintain suit against a purchaser who refused to comply with the bid and make payment.  The court stated that, when the respondent in this case stopped making payment of the purchase price and informed the Appellant that she would not carry out the contract, her actions constituted breach of the existing contract.  Consequently, the Appellant had the right to treat the contract as terminated and bring action for damages. 

In this case, the respondent purchaser (“Respondent”) bought the parcel of land after a duly advertised public sale complying with the requirements of Idaho Code § 58-313. The Respondent paid ten percent of the purchase price and provided for and equal installments on the balance.   The Respondent wrote a personal check for the required down payment, which was accepted by the Appellants State Board of Land Commissioners (“Commissioners”). Shortly, the Respondent stopped payment on the check. Consequently, Commissioners publicized a second sale.  And the property was sold for a lesser price. The Commissioners then filed suit and the trial court sustained the purchaser's general demurrer. This appeal followed.

 On appeal, the court held that the Commissioners and purchaser were in the position of vendor and vendee on an executory contract and that the purchaser's contention that she merely made an offer was without merit. The purchaser's stopped check did not constitute satisfaction of her duty to make payment under the contract. The court noted that to state a claim for breach of a contract, the Commissioners were required to state the making of a contract, the obligations assumed, and the breach. Such a claim, coupled with a statement of the amount claimed and a prayer for judgment completed the complaint requirements.
The Supreme Court stated that the vendor and vendee, upon the acceptance of the latter's bid at an auction, occupy the same relation towards each other as exists between the "promisor and promisee of an executory contract of sale conventionally made." Id. at 229. 5 Am.Jur. 474, par. 41.

The court further stated that, when respondent stopped payment on the check and informed appellant she would not carry out the contract, her actions constituted a breach of the existing contract of sale and this gave the Appellant the right to treat the contract as terminated and to bring its action for damages. Id. at 230 ( citing Koch v. Glenn, 53 Idaho 761, 27 P.2d 870).

The court further referred to 7 C.J.S., Auctions and Auctioneers, § 8(3), page 1263, which says:

“A seller may sue, for damages or for the purchase price, a purchaser who refuses to comply with his bid or the terms of sale.
"Where personal or real property is sold at public auction and the purchaser refuses to comply with his bid or with the terms of sale, the vendor may maintain an action against him for damages or for the purchase price."

The court stated that after Respondent's breach of the contract, Appellant was not required to tender further performance on its part. Id. ( citing Elson v. Jones, 42 Idaho 349, 245 P. 95).  Per section 58-313, I.C., if the successful bidder does not forthwith pay the required purchase price, the land may be immediately reoffered for sale at the public auction then being conducted without the necessity of readvertisement. Id. at 231.  



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