The court case Lucy v. Zehmer, ruled by Judge Buchanan, reviewed the legality of the Ferguson Farm selling contract between Mr. Lucy and Mr. Zehmer. In the court, Zehmer contended that an important contractual element was missing – his mental assent due to the inebriation of both parties. During the trial, the judge concluded that Zehmer was not drunk enough to not understand the consequences of his actions.
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The ruling said that Plaintiff’s offer was made in good faith, and Defendant accepted it also in good faith. There was no evidence that Plaintiff knew that the contract was a joke, as the court indicated that Lucy had made multiple offers to Zehmer to buy his farm. Moreover, the contract was signed by both Zehmer himself and his wife, whom he allegedly told that it was a joke. However, he admitted that it was said in a way that did not allow Lucy to hear it. Thus, the judge concluded that Zehmer’s hidden intentions were not relevant to the case, and only objective evidence is to be accepted as valid proof. According to the Lucy v. Zehmer case (1954), “if the words and acts of a party, reasonably interpreted, manifest an intention to agree, his contrary but unexpressed state of mind is immaterial” (pp. 3). I agree with the ruling due to the fact that, indeed, Lucy had no way of knowing Zehmer’s private thoughts and assumptions. Thus his assumption that the offer was accepted was justified. Moreover, Lucy’s intentions were clear and open, as he expressed interest in the farm for a long time, and Zehmer could not mistake them for a joke.
I have not had an experience with a particularly binding contract; however, I had once signed a job agreement without reading it thoroughly. It had stated that the employer had the right to issue salary on the dates of their liking rather than strictly assigned ones. Thus, I had no concrete knowledge of when I would receive my money.
The contract was written on a napkin and consisted of only the written agreement of Zehmer and his wife to sell the Ferguson farm, as well as their respective signatures. All of the other parts of a regular contract are missing, and that is why it cannot be used as a proper legal document. For example, risks of loss, warranty, inspection, property description, or payment method were not included in it.
Lucy v. Zehmer, Justia – US Law (Supreme Court of Virginia, 1954). Web.