Friday, May 13, 2016

Elix Adelson lawsuit Over Spruce Street Property October 15, 1907

The article below is about a lawsuit involving Elix Adelson and James Keller. It seems the Kellers refused to sell Elix a house on Spruce St because he was Jewish. I am curious whether any of us or our families have had a similar experience in Newport or elsewhere such as Fall River for example.
Newport Daily News, Friday, October 25, 1907 page 9
Mrs. Keller Signs Agreement and Then Refuses to Sell
Court Says Defendant Should Fulfill Contract
Judge Brown presided in the superior court this morning. There was a hearing in the equity case of Elix Adelson vs. James C Keller et. ux., et. al., which referred to to property on Spruce street. Mr Burdick appeared for plaintiff, Mr Mitchell for defendants.
Timothy J Mulcahy testified. In 1906 he was in the real estate and insurance business. He identified certain papers. He received $100 and went with Mr. Levy, who made a tender to Mr. Keller, who refused it and referred them to Mrs. Keller, whom they saw, and she refused it. Mr Burdick read some agreements as to the sale and purchase of real estate. Witness learned that the Kellers wanted to sall and saw Mrs. Keller. She wanted to sell. After she signed the agreement she said she was opposed to selling to a Jew. Witness did not tell her the man he mentioned was a Jew. He told her the paper was an agreement to sell. It then contained a clause allowing him $100 commission for making the sale. She came to the office and said she had decided not to sell to a Jew under any circumstances. Witness was not sure then that the man was a Jew.
Mr. Mitchell said they were trying to show that the agreement was changed after it was signed.
Mr. Levy testified. He saw the Kellers, in company with Mr. Mulcahy. They met Mr . Keller on his wagon, witness having the deed, mortgage and money in his hand. Keller whipped up his horse and said he wanted nothing to do with him. They then found Mrs Keller, who said >I don't want anything to do with you at all-get out of here." They got out. Witness showed the money to Mr. Keller. Made a legal tender.
Keller testified. He can read some. Looked over a paper, an agreement and said the clause to pay Mulcahy $100 for making the sale was not there when witness signed it. Mulcahy said the agreement did not make a sale binding. Mulcahy was not acting for the Kellers, but for the man who wanted to buy. Another alleged agreement witness said he never saw before in his life. Knew nothing of any but the one he signed. Mr Levy said he had the money in his pocket. It was raining hard. Witness did not see the money.
The court said, "You signed the paper. Why do you refuse to carry out the agreement?"
Mrs. Keller testified, examining the agreement. She signed it. Did not read it nor did Mr Mulcahy read it to her. He said the man lived in New York and had to leave at 2 o'clock, and he could if he not do something there he would look elsewhere. The first paper she signed she read. She told Mulcahy she didn't hire him and she would not pay him in case the place was sold. He wanted a paper to show that he was negotiating for the place. Witness didn't consider it a sale until the man came to look at the place. Had no idea the first paper bound her to sell. Mulcahy said the man was a Swede. The man came the next week.
Mr Mitchell argued that is was necessary for some acceptance of the agreement by Adelson to be shown the Kellers before the contract was binding. The Kellers never saw such an acceptance. No tender of money was made and Mulcahy was not their agent. If the clause to pay him $100 was added after signing, the agreement was void.
It being admitted that Mrs Keller had a chance to read the paper before signing, the court said she was bound by it.
`Mr Mitchell said the Kellers had no promise and no money- no consideration whatever.
Mr Burdick argued. He thought it one of the clearest cases.
The court said the statue says that to hold a party to sell real estate there must be a written agreement. There is this agreement and in this matter there cannot be any question that complainant has a right to a decree to compel specific performance. The decree will follow.

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