Last week I wrote on the parol evidence rule and exceptions thereto. This week I write to report on an appellate opinion holding the document at issue was unambiguous, hence interpretation at the appellate level was a legal question.
Both last week's and this week's entries were factually premised on appellate opinions addressing real estate transactions. Last week an exception to parol evidence was permitted. This week the court of appeals released an opinion that the conveyance document is not ambiguous. With there being no ambiguity to invoke evidence outside the document, the standard for interpretation is that it is a question of law what the document means. The goal in interpreting the terms of the document is to give the terms their plain and ordinary meaning.
In this opinion, the right of first refusal to a third-party that was terminated in the event of a transfer to the grantor's children was upheld in light of a Transfer on Death Deed. The TODD conveyed all the interests in the real estate to the grantors' kids. The opponent argued that the right of first refusal perpetuated beyond the grantors' deaths.
In reading and interpreting the competing documents, the court of appeals did not include any note that an exception to the parol evidence rule was invoked. Indeed, it is apparent from the opinion that only the documents at issue were used.
A curious set of opinions between last week and this. That's the fun of the law and the peril of it all at the same time.