Pifer v. McDermott - No. 20130027
Barbara McDermott appeals from a district court partial summary judgment holding a purchase option agreement between her mother, Dorothy Bevan, and Kevin Pifer is valid and enforceable, and from a judgment entered on a jury verdict awarding Pifer $80,957.07 in damages for intentional interference with his business. McDermott also appeals from related court rulings and orders granting temporary injunctions.
In 2001 Bevan granted Pifer a power of attorney and he assisted Bevan in managing her farmland. In 2004 Bevan executed a purchase option agreement giving Pifer an exclusive option to purchase up to two years after Bevan's death two quarters of Grand Forks County farmland for $107,569, which was less than fair market value. In 2009 Bevan executed a warranty deed transferring her interest in the property to herself and McDermott as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. Shortly after Bevan died in 2010, Pifer attempted to exercise the option to purchase the property but McDermott refused to honor the option, and Pifer commenced this lawsuit. The district court granted partial summary judgment ruling the purchase option agreement was valid and enforceable. A jury subsequently awarded Pifer $80,957.07 in damages for McDermott's intentional interference with his business prospects. The court also granted temporary injunctions granting Pifer full use and possession of the land during the legal proceedings.
On appeal, McDermott argues the district court erred in granting partial summary judgment in favor of Pifer because the purchase option agreement was invalid and not enforceable. She argues Pifer's claim for interference with his business and the jury's award of damages fail as a matter of law. She also contends the court erred in granting Pifer the right to possession and use of the land during these proceedings because there has not yet been a final determination of the validity of the purchase option.