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The Agreement Process t

Intent to ContracAcceptance Unilateral contract

Lucy v ZehmerBrackenbury v. Hodgkin


Citation 19171954 Court VA Supreme Ct. of AppealsSC Maine, p. 107 Class: Contract Agreement Process Facts: Mother made unilateral agreement of promise of current proceeds and future ownership of farm if daughter and SIL moved to the farm to care for her the remainder of her life. In acceptance, the children moved to the farm. Within weeks, problems occurred between parties. Children ordered to leave. Mom deeded the house to the son who proceeded to evict the daughter and SIL. Issue: Did the Ds outward expression manifest an intent to contract to the extent that a reasonable person would be certain of that intent to contract?Can unilaterial contract be revoked once the offeree has commenced to perform? Holding: The upper court reversed the finding of the lower court and determined that Zehmers outward expression was adequate to indicate intent to contract to the point that a reasonable person would assume intent to contract.SC held that the performance had begun and the contract was irrevocable. Rule: The mental assent of the parties is not requisite for the formation of a contract. If the words and or other acts of one of the parties have but one reasonable meaning, his undisclosed intention is immaterial except when an unreasonable meaning which he attaches to his manifestation is known to the other party.Beginning performance in a unilateral contract causes an option contract and renders the contract irrevocable until the performing parties have had adequate time to complete performance. Analysis: By moving to the farm and starting care of the land and mother, the offerees had accepted the option contract by beginning performance. The reasonable time for them to complete performance, in this case, was until the death of the mother. Also, the offeror is obligated to cooperate with the performers as necessary to fulfill the specifications of performance. The mother was legally bound to allow them to complete performance and could not revoke the contract. Thus, she was not able to deed the land to the son legally. In that case, he had no grounds upon which to evict the plaintiff. Conclusion: D was required to sell the farm to P according to the terms of the written contract because, regardless of his internal intent, his outward expression was such that a reasonable person would assume he was intending to contract.The defendant (mother) was obligated to uphold the unilateral contract (now option contract) to completion of performance. The codefendant (son) was not a legal owner of the property and could not take eviction action.

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