Before Prather, C.j., Banks And McRAE, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Prather, Chief Justice
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/13/97
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DENISE OWENS
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: WARREN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - CONTRACT
DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED AND RENDERED IN PART- 11/19/1998
MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: MANDATE ISSUED:
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE
¶1. In 1990, Eddy Sorey, aka C.E. Sorey II, ("Sorey") an attorney in Vicksburg, and his friend Richard A. Selby ("Selby") developed a common interest in acquiring properties located close to potential gaming sites. Sorey and Selby became interested in three parcels of property, and Sorey drafted three contracts pursuant to which the parties agreed to purchase the properties and share any profits from their resale. Each contract was basically identical except for the legal description of the properties involved and each contract contained the following provision:
The parties may elect to finance all or part of the purchase price in which case C.E. Sorey, II will be responsible to Richard A. Selby for one-half of the purchase price, whether in cash or by financing all or part of the purchase price.
The contracts also required Sorey to pay one-half of the earnest money for any of the properties acquired.
¶2. In May, 1990, Selby entered into real estate contracts to purchase the three properties for a total price of $28,500, and he obtained a loan at First National Bank (later Trustmark Bank) in his name alone. Sorey sent Selby checks for $1,500.00, or one half of the earnest money, as required by the contract. Selby notes, however, that Sorey only sent him additional checks for almost $2,000, which amount constituted far less than one half of the purchase price of the properties. Sorey assigned one-half of his one-half interest in the property to his friend, Ray T. Wade, and Selby later sold one-half of his interest to Taylor Martin and his wife.
¶3. In 1992, the City of Vicksburg decided to build a city convention center near the properties acquired by Sorey and Selby. The City elected to take these properties through eminent domain proceedings, and the City offered $167,000.00 as compensation for the taking. Although Sorey and Selby considered contesting this amount, they eventually decided to accept the offer. It was around this time, with the properties being sold, that the dispute between Sorey and Selby became apparent. Selby claims that in March, 1995, he gave Sorey a final opportunity to pay his one half of the purchase price of the property but that Sorey failed to do so. Sorey, however, asserts that Selby made no such offer. After the closing of the deal, Sorey demanded his claimed one-half interest in the profits, but Selby refused.
¶4. Ray Wade, Sorey's successor in interest, filed suit against Selby on April 18, 1995, in the Ninth Chancery Court District. All of the chancellors of this district recused themselves from the case, at which point this Court appointed the Honorable Denise Sweet-Owens to preside as Special Judge. The matter went to trial on April 30, 1997, ...