Wells Fargo Credit Corporation (Wells Fargo) obtained a judgment of foreclosure on a house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Clevenger. The total indebtedness stated in the judgment was $ 207,141. The foreclosure sale was scheduled for 11: 00 a. m. on a specified day at the west front door of the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Wells Fargo was represented by a paralegal, who had attended more than 1,000 similar sales. Wells Fargo’s handwritten instruction sheet informed the paralegal to make one bid at $ 115,000, the tax appraised value of the property. Because the first 1 in the number was close to the dollar sign, the paralegal misread the bid instruction as $ 15,000 and opened the bidding at that amount.
Harley Martin, who was attending his first judicial sale, bid $ 20,000. The county clerk gave ample time for another bid and then announced, “$20,000 going once, $ 20,000 going twice, sold to Harley.” The paralegal screamed, “Stop, I’m sorry. I made a mistake!” The certificate of sale was issued to Martin. Wells Fargo filed suit to set aside the judicial sale based on its unilateral mistake. Does Wells Fargo’s unilateral mistake constitute grounds for setting aside the judicial sale? Did any party act unethically in this case? Wells Fargo Credit Corporation v. Martin, 650 So. 2d 531, 1992 Fla. App. Lexis 9927 (Court of Appeal of Florida)