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Court of Appeals sides with Johns Hopkins

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has sided with Johns Hopkins University in relation to a legal battle over real estate. In 1989, Johns Hopkins purchased Belward Farm, a 108-acre farm valued at $54 million, for $5 million. The balance of the value was considered a charitable donation. A relative of the woman who sold the farm is arguing that the university has violated one of the purchase agreements.

Based on the statement from the relative's suit, the woman who donated the land expected that it would be used for a low-density academic campus. The suit was filed in Nov. 2011, and the relative has stated that Johns Hopkins's intent to build a 4.7 million-square-foot science city does not line up with his aunt's intentions that the school develop a 1.4 million square-foot complex. However, the court upheld the lower court's 2012 ruling in favor of Johns Hopkins.

The court stated that they were obligated to look at the document that both parties signed, not an agreement that those involved wish they would have negotiated at the time. Johns Hopkins is pleased with the decision, and spokesmen for the school have stated that there are plans to proceed with the Belward Research Campus in full compliance with the agreement. On the other hand, the family believes that the court ruled in error.

When real estate transactions are litigated, it could prevent organizations from using the land and put important projects on hold. When real estate contracts are well planned out, it may help to prevent situations such as this one from arising. However, if a conflict does take place, a real estate lawyer could help to bring disputes to a quick end.

Source:, "Maryland court rules in favor of Johns Hopkins in Gaithersburg land dispute", St. John Barned-Smith, November 25, 2013

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