from Tallapoosa Circuit Court (CV-16-900051)
Jones and Elizabeth Jones appeal from a summary judgment
entered by the Tallapoosa Circuit Court ("the trial
court") in favor of The Village at Lake Martin, LLC
("the Village"), on their claims of breach of
contract and fraudulent inducement. We affirm the trial
court's summary judgment as to the breach-of-contract
claim; we reverse the summary judgment as to the
17, 2016, the Joneses filed a complaint against the Village
and Brian Ray, in his individual capacity and as an agent of
the Village, asserting claims of breach of contract, breach
of warranty, fraudulent inducement, and unjust enrichment. On
July 12, 2016, Ray and the Village filed an answer, which
included numerous affirmative defenses, including that the
claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitations.
On January 27, 2017, Ray and the Village filed a motion for a
summary judgment as to all claims. On March 29, 2017, the
Joneses responded to that motion. On April 6, 2017, the trial
court entered a judgment disposing of all the Joneses'
claims; specifically, the trial court dismissed the
breach-of-warranty claim on the motion of the Joneses and
entered a summary judgment on the remaining claims of breach
of contract, fraudulent inducement, and unjust enrichment.
With regard to the breach-of-contract and
fraudulent-inducement claims, the trial court held that there
was no genuine issue of material fact regarding the merits of
either claim and that each claim was barred by the applicable
statute of limitations. On May 18, 2017, the Joneses filed
their notice of appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court; that
court transferred the appeal to this court, pursuant to Ala.
Code 1975, § 12-2-7.
evidence indicated that the Joneses purchased a lake house
from the Village in 2009. Notably, the contract for the sale
of the house included paragraph 34, which states:
"This contract constitutes the entire agreement between
[the Joneses] and [the Village] regarding the Property, and
supercedes [sic] all prior discussions, negotiations, and
agreements between [the Joneses] and [the Village], whether
oral or written. This agreement is not transferable or not
assignable. Neither [the Joneses], [the Village], nor Broker
or any sales associate shall be bound by any understanding,
agreement, promise, or representation concerning the
Property, express or implied, not specified herein."
the following language is handwritten on an addendum to the
contract: "Buyer requests boat slip in next phase 1st
choice -- @ $10, 000 to be paid at availability. Trex to be
used." The Joneses and Ray initialed that handwritten
note. In opposition to the summary-judgment motion, the
Joneses presented their affidavits in which they averred that
Ray had made representations to them, both before and at the
time they entered into the contract to purchase the lake
house, indicating that, once additional boat slips were
built, they would be able to purchase one for $10, 000. The
Joneses both stated that they had relied on the oral
representations made by Ray concerning the option to purchase
the boat slip when deciding to purchase the lake house.
in 2016, the Village began constructing new boat slips. The
Joneses requested to purchase one of the boat slips for $10,
000, but the Village refused their request. The Joneses
testified that Ray denied that he had represented to them
that the Village had agreed to allow them to purchase a boat
slip for the purchase price of $10, 000. Phillip testified in
his affidavit that he had been damaged as a result of the
"deception and breach" of the Village.
review this case de novo, applying the oft-stated
principles governing appellate review of a trial court's
grant or denial of a summary judgment motion:
"'"We apply the same standard of review the
trial court used in determining whether the evidence
presented to the trial court created a genuine issue of
material fact. Once a party moving for a summary judgment
establishes that no genuine issue of material fact exists,
the burden shifts to the nonmovant to present substantial
evidence creating a genuine issue of material fact.
'Substantial evidence' is 'evidence of such
weight and quality that fair-minded persons in the exercise
of impartial judgment can reasonably infer the existence of
the fact sought to be proved.' In reviewing a summary
judgment, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the nonmovant and entertain such reasonable inferences as the
jury would have been free to draw."'
"American Liberty Ins. Co. v. AmSouth Bank,
825 So.2d 786, 790 (Ala. 2002) (quoting NationwideProp. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. DPF Architects, P.C.,
792 So.2d 369, 372 (Ala. 2000) (citations ...