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Postma v. Baker

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

July 31, 2019

RANDY POSTMA and CARY, LLC, Appellants,
v.
CHRISTOPHER BAKER, PATRICIA BAKER and TRICIA'S PLACE, LLC, Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Carlos A. Rodriguez, Judge; L.T. Case No. 062017CA008716AXXXCE.

          John J. Shahady of Shahady & Wurtenberger P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellants.

          Eric J. Horbey of Lazer, Aptheker, Rosella & Yedid, P.C., West Palm Beach, for appellees.

          Kuntz, J.

         In this appeal, we must interpret language in a settlement agreement allowing a party to inspect a vehicle to "make sure the vehicle is to his satisfaction." The appellant, who had the right to inspect, argues the provision allowed him to inspect the vehicle and determine whether he was satisfied before purchasing the vehicle. The circuit court disagreed. We reverse.

         Background

         In 2014, Christopher Baker, Patricia Baker, and Tricia's Place LLC bought a 2003 Marathon Prevost, a motorcoach, from Randy Postma and Cary LLC for $365, 000.[1] The Bakers allege that when they purchased the motorcoach, Postma stated that it had never been "wrecked."

         Later, the Bakers learned that the motorcoach had been in an accident and had been issued a salvage title. As a result, the Bakers filed a lawsuit, alleging that Postma knew of the accident and misrepresented the motorcoach's condition.

         At mediation, the parties signed a confidential settlement agreement. The handwritten agreement stated that Postma would pay $315, 000 to repurchase the motorcoach. It also included a provision allowing Postma to inspect the motorcoach:

Prior to purchase, Postma has the right to inspect the vehicle and make sure the vehicle is to his satisfaction. Inspection will take place within 30 days.

         Weeks later, the Bakers moved to enforce the agreement, arguing that Postma inspected the motorcoach after the mediation and told them it "was in very good condition." They also explained that they understood the settlement agreement to mean that Postma was "to come out and see the conditions of [the motorcoach] and make sure it wasn't damaged or wrecked or dented."

         Postma explained that he sold the motorcoach to the Bakers in 2014, when it had 76, 000 miles on it. At mediation, he learned that the Bakers had driven the motorcoach 40, 000 additional miles since they bought it from him. So he agreed to purchase the motorcoach subject to his right to inspect it. At the inspection, Postma allegedly found many issues and declined to complete the purchase.

         The circuit court granted the Bakers' motion to enforce settlement. The court noted that the parties entered into a voluntary settlement early in the litigation. The court found that Postma "ask[ed] the Court to interpret 'to his satisfaction' as completely discretionary with [Postma]. Such an interpretation," the court found, "would render the settlement agreement completely illusory." The ...


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