C. I. T. Corp. v. Haynes

Decision Date05 August 1965
Citation2 UCC Rep. 1000,212 A.2d 436,161 Me. 353
Parties, 2 UCC Rep.Serv. 1000 C. I. T. CORPORATION v. Herbert C. HAYNES.
CourtMaine Supreme Court

Rudman & Rudman, by Paul L. Rudman, Bangor, for appellant.

Richard H. Broderick, Lincoln, for appellee.

MARDEN, Justice.

On appeal from decree of a single justice on jury waived hearing.

On October 9, 1961 defendant purchased under conditional sales agreement from vendor in Lewiston, a mobile power crane. Among the terms of the conditional sales contract it was provided that 'to the extent permitted by law' the vendor or its assigns might repossess the equipment, without notice or legal process, 'retain all prior payments as partial compensation for its use, and equipment may be sold with or without notice at private sale or at public sale,' the proceeds of such sale less expense of repossession, repair, etc., to be credited upon the unpaid balance, and that the vendee would pay the balance of the purchase price as liquidated damages. The conditional sales contract was assigned upon the same date to the plaintiff.

In July or August of 1962 defendant returned the equipment to the vendor's premises in Lewiston for the purpose of having it remounted for more mobility, but inasmuch as defendant did not prosecute this proposed change the equipment remained for some time at Lewiston. Payments upon the equipment became delinquent and on February 2, 1963 plaintiff repossessed it and moved it from Lewiston to Portland. While the crane was in Portland, defendant paid $1,000.00 on March 21, 1963, and another $1,000.00 on April 5, 1963 to his vendor, which money plaintiff received.

After the date of repossession, on at least one occasion, a representative of plaintiff told the defendant that if the payments could not be brought to date the equipment would be sold. No date of sale was fixed. Within Section 9 'Conditional Sales' of Chapter 119, R.S.1954, then in effect 1 was this provision:

'In all cases where a power of sale has been reserved in a conditional sales contract, the conditional sales vendee shall be given at least 10 days' written notice, mailed to him either at the address stated in such contract, or at his last known place of abode, of the intention of the holder of such contract to sell said property, which notice shall state the date, time and place of such sale.'

No notice in compliance with this statute was given the defendant. The equipment was sold on October 1, 1963 and the plaintiff, after crediting the net proceeds of the sale toward the contract price, seeks to recover the balance.

The single justice held that compliance with the statutory notice was a condition precedent to the recovery of any deficiency against the conditional vendee, that lack of such notice was not waived by the vendee and denied recovery. Plaintiff appeals.

The appeal is confined to the question whether compliance with the statutory notice was a condition precedent to the recovery of any deficiency due under the terms of the conditional sales contract. The appeal as so expressed raises no issue on the competence of the single justice to have found that there was no factual waiver of the statutory provision after repossession. Whether our law permitted a waiver embodied in the sales contract is considered within the point of appeal.

The power given to the vendor to repossess and sell is not under attack and we have held in chattel mortgages that such a power is valid and by itself neither 'impairs the mortgage nor clogs the equity of redemption.' Consolidated Rendering Co. v. Stewart et al., 132 Me. 139, 142, 168 A. 100, 101, 88 A.L.R. 908 and the court went on to say:

'* * * we think it may be accepted as the law here, as elsewhere, that a valid power of sale may be inserted in a chattel mortgage, and, if the power is exercised in accordance with its terms and with fairness to the mortgagor, if no statute intervenes, the equity of redemption is extinguished. * * *' (Emphasis added.)

The principles of chattel mortgages and conditional sales are sufficiently alike to apply the Stewart holding to the latter. See Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company v. Auburn and Turner Railroad Company, 106 Me. 349, 352, 76 A. 897; Doylestown Agricultural Company v. Brackett, Shaw & Lunt Company, 109 Me. 301, 309, 84 A. 146; and Harvey v. Anacone, 134 Me. 245, 246, 184 A. 889.

The issue is centered in the contradiction of the terms of the conditional sales contract and the reference statute. The defendant-vendee agreed at the time of purchase that upon vendor's repossessing the equipment, that 'to the extent permitted by law' it could be sold 'with or without notice'. The statute requires that in such cases (where a power of sale has been reserved in the conditional sales contract) the vendee 'shall be given at least 10 days' written notice, * * *.'

No Maine case has been called to our attention nor have we found one where conflict between contract term and statute has been discussed, but the principle has been recognized in real estate mortgages, and it is settled that a mortgagor will not be permitted to 'release, surrender, or embarrass his right of redemption by any agreement made at the same time and as a part of the mortgage transaction.' Greenlaw, Executrix v. Eastport Savings Bank et als., 106 Me. 205, 207, 76 A. 485. In Desseau v. Holmes et al., 187 Mass. 486, 73 N.E. 656, 657 (1905) the exact point has been passed upon, in which the court held that a waiver the conditional sales contract by the vendee of a provision imposing upon the conditional vendor certain duties before he could foreclose the vendee's right to redeem, was void as against public policy. The principle in Desseau has been followed in Massachusetts down to and including Quality Finance Company v. Hurley, 337 Mass. 150, 148 N.E.2d 385, 389 (1958) 2 which is the most recent case upon the point in Massachusetts as found in the reporter series.

In other jurisdictions having statutes pertaining to the subject, such as the Personal Property Law of New York and the Uniform Conditional Sales Act, the principle is reiterated. See Annotations on the general subject of rights and remedies as between parties to conditional sales as appear in 37 A.L.R. 91, III d. at 110; 83 A.L.R. 959, III c. at 970; 99 A.L.R. 1288, III c. at 1298; 49 A.L.R.2d 15, II § 5 at 29, III § 11 at 45, and of which cases Crowe v. Liquid Carbonic Co., 208 N.Y. 396, 102 N.E. 573 (1913) is illustrative and leading.

The single justice held that the antecedent waiver by the vendee of statutory notice supplied him by the statute, was against public policy and we agree. Such sale by the plaintiff was invalid.

Of what effect, if any, has the invalidity of this sale upon plaintiff's attempt to recover a deficiency judgment?

While at common law the terms of the contract controlled and, absent appropriate provision for redemption upon default, the vendee was...

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11 cases
  • In re Schwalb, BK S 05 17766 LBR.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Nevada
    • August 3, 2006
    ...(provision allowing secured party to bid at private sale void as against public policy and unenforceable); C.I.T. Corp. v. Haynes, 161 Me. 353, 356, 212 A.2d 436, 438 (1965) (waiver of right of redemption in conditional sales contract subject to Article 9 unenforceable as against public The......
  • Wilmington Trust Co. v. Conner
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Delaware
    • March 26, 1980
    ...A.2d 595 (1960). This was also the majority rule elsewhere under the Uniform Conditional Sales Act. E. g., C.I.T. Corporation v. Haynes, Me.Supr., 161 Me. 353, 212 A.2d 436 (1963); Frantz Equipment Co. v. Anderson, N.J.Supr., 37 N.J. 420, 181 A.2d 499 (1962); Annot.: Rights and Duties of Pa......
  • Hall v. Owen County State Bank
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • December 20, 1977
    ...Rep. 854; Washington v. First National Bank of Miami (Fla.App.1976), 332 So.2d 644, 19 UCC Rep. 989; C. I. T. Corporation v. Haynes (1965), 161 Me. 353, 212 A.2d 436, 2 UCC Rep. 1000; Atlas Thrift Co. v. Horan (1972), 27 Cal.App.3d 999, 104 Cal.Rptr. 315, 11 UCC Rep. 417; Aimonetto v. Keepe......
  • Dehahn v. Innes
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • April 22, 1976
    ...in Camden National Bank, carried over into the Uniform Commercial Code the public policy doctrine espoused in C. I. T. Corporation v. Haynes, 1965, 161 Me. 353, 212 A.2d 436, to the effect that a debtor's right to redeem his collateral in a secured transaction cannot be foreclosed except in......
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