On May 5, 2014, the parties entered into a land contract for the sale of real property from defendant to plaintiff. In the land contract, plaintiff agreed to pay defendant a purchase price of $90,000. Plaintiff agreed to make a down payment of $5,000 on the day the parties executed the land contract, leaving a balance of $85,000 to be paid through monthly installments. In turn, defendant agreed to provide plaintiff with a quitclaim deed to the property “[u]pon total payment of the purchase price and any and all late charges, and other amounts due” to defendant. The land contract granted plaintiff the right to prepay the unpaid balance, either in whole or in part, and without penalty, at any time before it became due. After successfully making monthly payments to defendant for almost three years, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant alleging claims for breach of contract, nuisance, trespass, and quiet title. The complaint alleged that, when plaintiff announced his intention to pay the remaining balance owed on the land contract, defendant provided him with a notice of default and announced her decision to refuse prepayment of the remaining balance. Plaintiff alleged that defendant committed a breach of contract by refusing to accept prepayment of the balance. In his complaint, plaintiff requested the remedy of specific performance.
In March 2018, the parties filed cross-motions for summary disposition in this case. The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion, and then granted defendant’s motion in part, dismissing without prejudice plaintiff’s claim for quiet title. After listening to the testimony and reviewing the evidence, the trial court dismissed plaintiff’s claims for trespass and nuisance, and held as follows regarding plaintiff’s claim for breach of contract: This Court will find that a breach of contract occurred. The date of the breach of the contract was September 5, 2018 when [defendant] deposited the $75,000.00 prepayment, made by [plaintiff], and failed to provide the plaintiff any accounting regarding the balance remaining to be paid or the payoff status, of the account at that time. Certainly, before that, this matter was in negotiation and there had been set—some amounts tendered and not accepted. Clearly when the $75,000.00 check was accepted, that then generates a corresponding duty on the part of the defendant to say what the status of the account is.
The trial court therefore granted plaintiff’s request for specific performance and ordered defendant to provide a quitclaim deed to the property within 30 days. On July 10, 2019, the trial court entered a final judgment and order in favor of plaintiff, finding that plaintiff was the rightful owner of the real property. The trial court ordered defendant to provide plaintiff a quitclaim deed to the property. Defendant now appeals the trial court’s final order.
On appeal, defendant raises four issues in her statement of questions presented: (1) the trial court misapplied the rules of evidence and erred in its factual findings; (2) plaintiff failed to provide the evidence required to support his complaint; (3) the trial court failed to understand the defendant’s payments under the land contract; and (4) the trial court improperly accepted defendant’s Exhibit H during the bench trial.
This Court reviews a trial court’s factual findings in a bench trial for clear error. A finding is clearly erroneous if there is no evidentiary support for it or if this Court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. The trial court’s findings are given great deference because it is in a better position to examine the facts.
First, defendant argues that the trial court misapplied the rules of evidence and erred in its factual findings. Defendant contends that the trial court erroneously relied on plaintiff’s Exhibit H, which defendant refers to as “an 11 th hour payment schedule.” Defendant further argues that the trial court erred in accepting defendant’s trial exhibit because it contained serious errors that constituted an “apparent or fatal defect.” When plaintiff offered this exhibit into evidence, the trial court expressly asked whether defendant objected to its admission, and defendant’s counsel answered, “No.” By expressly disclaiming any objection to the admission of this exhibit at trial, defendant has waived any appellate argument regarding its admissibility. Because defendant waived review of this issue, we decline to consider it.
All of defendant’s arguments on appeal boil down to arguments that the trial court’s factual findings made during the bench trial were in error. Defendant’s arguments are unpersuasive. The trial court was permitted to consider the pleadings that defendant filed in the district-court forfeiture action and the assertions that defendant made in those pleadings regarding the amount due from plaintiff under the land contract. Furthermore, the trial court was permitted to find that defendant’s calculations of the amount due under the land contract were inconsistent and replete with errors. Giving the trial court’s factual findings the “great deference” they are due, and acknowledging that the trial court was “in a better position to examine the facts” than this Court, we cannot say that the trial court’s rulings were clearly erroneous.
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