Smithwick v. Whitley
152 N.C. 369, 67 S.E. 913 (N.C. 1910)

  • Smithwick signed a written contract with Whitely to buy some land for $35 an acre.
    • Whitely never handed over the deed.
  • Smithwick spent three years clearing the land. Whitley then informed Smithwick that he was calling off the deal unless Smithwick paid $50 an acre.
  • Smithwick, not wanting to lose all the work he spent clearing the land, paid the $50 an acre, got the deed, and then sued to recover the $15 an acre.
    • Smithwick argued that the extra money was paid under duress.
  • The Court found for Whitley.
    • The Court found that the $15 was voluntary.
  • Smithwick didn’t play his cards right. What he should have done was not pay, and then sue Whitley for specific performance to get the deed based on the original contract.