English Contract Law

Ted DeWiz has a classic muscle car that he fixed up and has enjoyed drag racing.  He has kept it well maintained.  Much as he loves the car, Ted finds himself in need of cash. He parks the car in his front yard, with a large sign on the windshield that says, “Cherry of a classic car, For Sale $4,500 or Best Offer. AS-IS.”

Marlee Cheree drives by and sees the car. She is immediately enamored and stops to look at it. Marlee is sure the car is underpriced.  When she knocks on Ted’s front door, there is no response; she looks around and decides nobody is home, so she takes her business card and on the back writes, ” I will pay you $5,000 cash for your classic car. I will return later when you are home.”  She signs her name, and dates it, including the time, and slips the card into the screen on the front door.

After Marlee leaves, about a half-hour later,  Ted returns. He does not see Marlee’s card because he never uses his front door, only the side or back doors. A few minutes after he is home, his buddy, Dave Dancer, pulls in to look at the car. Dave has always liked the car. Dave offers Ted the $4,500 asking price, which Ted accepts. The two men shake hands on the deal. Ted goes in the house to get the car title while Dave writes out a check to Ted for $4,500.

As Ted comes out of the house with the title in his hand, and just before Dave hands him the check, Marlee pulls in. She has an envelope of $5000 cash for the car. Ted says to Marlee, “sorry, but I have just sold the car to Dave here.”  Marlee objects and says she already offered the $5000 earlier. 

When Ted says, “No, you didn’t,” she marches him to the front door and shows him her card.

“There was my offer, I already left you before.  You weren’t home and now I have the money right here,” she said.

Ted turns to Dave, and says, “Sorry, there was already another offer; I just didn’t know about it, so I ‘m going to sell the car to Marlee for the $5000.”

Dave objects, stating, “You just said you already sold it to ME. We shook hands on it. You cannot back out now just because some card was floating around no one knew about. She wasn’t even here!”

While the three of them stand in the yard arguing, Joe Don Townerbucks drives in the yard. He gets out of his Mercedes, looks at the muscle car, and moseys over to the three arguing people.  He asks, “who owns that hot rod for sale?”

“I do,” says Ted.

“No, I do,” says Dave.

“It’s mine,” snaps Marlee.

“I’ll pay whichever of you, $8,000 for that car,” says Townerbucks,  “provided the engine starts.”

Ted answers, “Of course it starts. I accept your offer.”

Dave hollers, “NO! That car is no longer for sale! I bought it!” (Waving the check-in Ted’s face.)

Marlee stomps over to the muscle car and sits on the hood, grabbing the sign of it.  “It’s my car. I was here before all of you and I have real money in hand,” she yells.

Ted says to Joe Don,” Pay no attention to them. I have the title — right here. Let’s start the car.”



What are the issues you see here?
Applying the principles of contract law, who gets the car, if anyone, and for how much? Explain your reasoning using the definitions and principles of contract provided in Lessons, required readings, and any other research you do.
What is the situation if Ted (or Dave…. or  ? …..whoever) accepts Townerbucks’ offer and the car doesn’t start? Does “As Is” still apply? For more information on English Contract Law check on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_contract_law

What Is Ethical Judgment?

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