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McCord v. Foster

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

October 26, 2016

RONNIE MCCORD, CLINT MCCORD, MCCORD FARMS, LLC, AND DITCH 56 FARMS, LLC APPELLANTS
v.
STANLEY FOSTER, JUDY FOSTER, LINDA ALDEN, AND DANNY BRANDON APPELLEES

         APPEAL FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT [NO. 16LCV-2012-0001] HONORABLE LEE FERGUS, JUDGE

         REVERSED AND REMANDED

          Mixon & Worsham PLC, by: Donn Mixon, for appellants Ronnie McCord, Clint McCord, and McCord Farms, LLC.

          Law Office of Wendell L. Hoskins II, by: Wendell L. Hoskins II and Mary K. Walker, for appellant Ditch 56 Farms, LLC.

          Hayes, Alford, Johnson & Conley, PLLC, by: Christopher B. Conley, for appellees Linda Alden and Danny Brandon.

          Waddell, Cole & Jones, PLLC, by: Ralph W. Waddell and Justin E. Parkey, for appellees Stanley E. Foster and Judy Foster.

          RITA W. GRUBER, Judge

         This case involves two separate appeals concerning the Craighead County Circuit Court's granting of summary judgment in favor of appellees Judy and Stanley Foster that ordered the specific performance of a contract where the Fosters were to purchase certain real property from appellees Linda Alden and Danny Brandon.[1] Ronnie McCord, Clint McCord, and McCord Farms, LLC (collectively, the McCord defendants), appeal because they had the property under lease and the circuit court's grant of summary judgment extinguished their right of prior refusal to purchase the land. Ditch 56 Farms, LLC, appeals from the circuit court's denial of its motion to intervene because it had a contract to purchase the property from the McCord defendants. We reverse the summary judgment and the denial of the motion to intervene and remand for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.

         Background

         In June 2008, Sylvester Brandon leased 160 acres of farmland to Ronnie and Clint McCord for ten years. The lease provided that it was to be binding on the parties and their heirs, personal representatives, and assigns. The McCords could not assign or sublease any part of the premises without Brandon's prior written approval. If Brandon were to sell the property, it was to be subject to the lease. The lease also included a provision for a right of first refusal for Sylvester's children, Linda Alden and Danny Brandon, if Sylvester decided to sell the property during the term of the lease. If neither Alden nor Danny Brandon wanted to buy the property, a right of second refusal was given to the McCords.

         Sylvester Brandon died in April 2010, having never offered to sell the land. His will left one tract of eighty acres to Brandon and another eighty acres to Alden, and his estate executed distribution deeds to them. The McCords continued to farm the land in accordance with their lease.

         In November 2011, the Fosters contracted to purchase all 160 acres from Danny Brandon for $528, 000. Alden did not sign the contract but both Brandon and Alden cashed earnest-money checks from the Fosters. Three weeks later, Brandon and Alden signed separate but similar contracts honoring the McCords' right of refusal at the same price as offered by the Fosters. The next day, the McCords executed an offer and sale contract whereby they would convey the property to Ditch 56 Farms for the same price offered by the Fosters.[2]

         The Fosters filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction and specific performance of the sales contract or, in the alternative, damages for breach of contract against Brandon and Alden. The Fosters sought declaratory relief as to the validity of Ronnie and Clint McCord's right of refusal and their contract to purchase the property from Brandon and Alden.[3]

         The circuit court granted the Fosters' request for an ex parte temporary restraining order. The McCord defendants, Brandon, and Alden were enjoined and restrained from closing the sale for the purchase of the property until further orders of the court. The parties later entered into a consent injunction whereby all parties were ...


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