Benz v. D.L. Evans BankAnnotate this Case
n 2007, Plaintiff-Respondent Leslie Benz entered into a contract to purchase a townhouse that was to be constructed. The contract required her to make three nonrefundable payments of earnest money, which were to be applied to the purchase price. The property's seller sought a construction loan from Defendant-Appellant D.L. Evans Bank. As security for the loan, the seller executed a deed of trust granting the Bank a lien in the property upon which the townhouse would be constructed. The townhouse was substantially completed when Plaintiff was notified that the seller had filed for bankruptcy. The seller failed to pay construction expenses, and as a result, the closing did not occur as scheduled. Numerous mechanics' and materialmen's liens were filed against the property. Plaintiff negotiated with the seller in an attempt to clear the title and purchase the townhouse. Negotiations broke down, Plaintiff notified the seller that she was rescinding the contract, and demanded the return of the earnest money she paid. When the earnest money was not refunded, Plaintiff sued. The trial court held that Plaintiff's lien which was created in connection with the rescinded contract had priority over a deed of trust that the Bank had in the property. The Supreme Court reversed part of the trial court's judgment that awarded accrued interest from the earnest money, but affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of Plaintiff.