Cooper v. DurhamAnnotate this Case
Cody Durham filed suit against Jacob Cooper, alleging breach of a purchase agreement between them involving the sale of Cooper's residence. In August 2020, Durham saw a listing on the Facebook Marketplace social-media website advertising for sale Cooper's house and the two acres of real property on which the house was situated. Over text messages between Durham and Cooper, they agreed to a purchase price and closing date, with Cooper paying the closing costs. Durham testified that he did not engage any realtor or lawyer to help him with drafting the purchase agreement. Instead, he just Google-searched for "residential purchase agreement" and used the first fillable form generated by that search. One of the conditions of Durham's FHA loan was that the loan would not be approved unless the subject property's appraised value was confirmed by a certified appraiser. A certified appraiser appraised the property's value, but that value was subject to the condition that a storage shed in Cooper's backyard needed to be fixed or torn down. Cooper told Durham he "don't have the money" to fix or tear down the storage shed, so it would be up to Durham to take care of it. Cooper then sent Durham a text stating he was backing out of the deal because the closing date had passed, and the issue of the shed had not been resolved. Durham sought specific performance of the purchase agreement. Following a bench trial, the trial court awarded Durham $79,000 in damages. Cooper appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court misapplied the law to the facts by measuring Durham's damages based on the difference between the contract price and the subject property's assessed market value in a new appraisal because the proper legal standard for measuring damages for the breach of a contract involving the sale of real property was the difference between the contract price and the subject property's market value at the time of the breach. The judgment was reversed and the case remanded for a recalculation of damages.