Question: In July 2004 the Harrises entered into a contract with

In July 2004, the Harrises entered into a contract with the Hallbergs to purchase a home in Waccabuc, New York, for the sum of $1.9 million. Later, they had second thoughts about the purchase. In November 2004, the Harrises and Hallbergs signed an agreement which provided that, upon the forfeiture of the Harrises' down payment, "all contractual obligations" that the parties owed each other under the contract of sale would be terminated, and each party would "have no further obligation" toward the other.
The release was consistent with the terms of the contract of sale, which had specified the Hallbergs' remedy in the event of a default by the Harrises. Both parties were represented by independent counsel during the transaction and Mr. Harris is a lawyer.
Later, the Harrises alleged that, prior to signing the release, the parties entered into an oral agreement whereby the Hallbergs agreed that, if they could sell the property for more than the sum of $1.9 million, they would return all or part of the Harrises' down payment. The Harrises alleged that, although the Hallbergs had apparently sold the property for the sum of $2.4 million, they had refused to return any part of the down payment. Do the Harrises have the legal right to enforce the alleged oral agreement for the return of the down payment?

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  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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