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Group One Realty, Inc. v. Dahr Properties-Memorial Springs, LLC

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division II

March 30, 2017

GROUP ONE REALTY, INC., a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
DAHR PROPERTIES-MEMORIAL SPRINGS, LLC, an Oklahoma limited liability company and A.S. DAHR, an individual, Defendants/Appellants.

          Mandate Issued: 10/27/2017

         APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE BRYAN C. DIXON, TRIAL JUDGE

          Joe M. Hampton, Amy J. Pierce, CORBYN HAMPTON, PLLC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellee

          Michael K. Avery, McAFEE & TAFT, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Defendants/Appellants

          JOHN F. FISCHER, PRESIDING JUDGE

         ¶1 Appellants, Dahr Properties - - Memorial Springs, LLC and A.S. Dahr (collectively Dahr), appeal the district court's order granting Appellee Group One Realty, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment. Dahr asserts the district court erred in granting summary judgment without first allowing it the opportunity to conduct discovery. This appeal has been assigned to the accelerated docket pursuant to Oklahoma Supreme Court Rule 1.36(b), 12 O.S.Supp. 2013, ch. 15, app. 1, and the matter stands submitted without appellate briefing. After review of the record and applicable law, we reverse the district court's order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 On September 11, 2013, Group One's predecessor-in-interest entered into a contract with Dahr for the purchase and sale of real property in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Group One assumed all rights under the contract pursuant to written agreement. The contract was amended in writing several times due to negotiations with pipeline companies to relocate pipelines beneath the surface. The final contract amendment gave Group One the right to terminate the contract if it could not reach agreement in principle with the pipeline companies. The amendment further stated that satisfaction of this condition would be determined at Group One's sole discretion.

         ¶3 On November 11, 2014, Group One delivered written notice of its election to terminate the contract. Group One requested the return of the $495, 000 earnest money held in escrow, plus any accrued interest. Dahr contested the validity of the contract termination and filed suit in district court. Group One filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the district court to determine that the notice of termination was valid and effective. Dahr responded that they had been unable to conduct the discovery necessary to support their allegations against Group One. Dahr also filed an affidavit pursuant to 12 O.S.2011 § 2056 (F) and District Court Rule 13(d), 12 O.S.Supp. 2013, ch. 2, app., stating their good faith belief that the discovery would reveal a genuine dispute of material facts.

         ¶4 The district court granted Group One's motion for summary judgment, finding that the termination notice was valid and that Group One was entitled to the return of its earnest money. Dahr appeals, asserting that the district court erred in granting summary judgment without allowing additional time to conduct discovery.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5 When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the district court considers factual matters but the ultimate decision is purely legal. Carmichael v. Beller, 1996 OK 48, ¶ 2, 914 P.2d 1051. Issues of law are reviewed pursuant to the de novo standard of review. Brown v. Nicholson, 1997 OK 32, n.1, 935 P.2d 319. De novo review involves a plenary, independent, and non-deferential examination of the district court's rulings of law. In re Estate of Bell-Levine, 2012 OK 112, ¶ 5, 293 P.3d 964. On review, we examine the pleadings and evidentiary materials submitted by the parties to determine whether there exists a genuine issue of material fact. Carmichael, 1996 OK 48, ¶ 2. If the moving party has not addressed all material facts, or if one or more of such facts is not supported by acceptable evidentiary material, summary judgment is not proper. Spirgis v. Circle K Stores, Inc., 1987 OK CIV APP 45, 743 P.2d 682 (approved for publication by the Oklahoma Supreme Court).

         ANALYSIS

         ¶6 Appellants ask this court to determine the following: when a party's right to terminate a contract is restricted to limited conditions, is a termination allegedly premised upon the occurrence ...


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