Court of Appeals reinstates counter-claim based on sale documents
Richard and Charlotte Bramlet sued Shayla and Richard McDonough to recover possession of property they had sold the McDonoughs. The McDonoughs counter-sued, arguing that the Bramlets concealed numerous defects in the property. The District Court where the action was brought granted possession to the Bramlets and transferred the Counter-claim to the Circuit Court because the amount sought by the Defendant-Counter Plaintiffs exceeded the District Court's jurisdictional limits.
On the date set for trial, the Bramlets asked the court to dismiss the money claim because the McDonoughs had not filed an Exhibit List. They argued that without admitting the pertinent documents into evidence, the buyers could not prove that there were undisclosed defects. The trial judge was feeling lazy that day, apparently, and granted the motion to dismiss. The buyers appealed, arguing that the sanction of dismissal was inappropriate, given the inadvertent error of not filing an exhibit list disclosing a document that had originally been attached to the District Court pleadings.
The Court of Appeals agreed with the buyers and reversed the trial judge. It held that the Judge should have taken into account both the lack of prejudice to the sellers and the inadvertent nature of the error. The higher court reinstated the McDonoughs' legal action.