COURTEEN SEED CO. v. ABRAHAM

Supreme Court of Oregon

129 Or. 427, 275 P. 684 (1929)

Facts

This case involves an action for damages based upon an alleged contract for the sale of a carload of clover seed. The Plaintiff is the buyer. The Defendant is the seller. The Plaintiff states he has been damaged $2750.

Procedural History

In the trial court Plaintiff recovered $500. Defendant appeals.

Issue

Is the telegram sent by the Defendant an offer or an invitation to offer?

Arguments for Both Parties

Plaintiff states that the telegram stating, “I am asking 23 cents per pound for the car of red clover… Have an offer of 22 ¾ per pound, f.o.b. Amity,” is a legally enforceable offer. Defendant states that it is not.

Holding

The court holds that given every element of the telegram, they are not prepared to state that the telegram represents an express offer to sell by the defendant to the plaintiff. The motion of the Defendant for a nonsuit should have been sustained by the trial court, trial court decision is reversed.

Rule

“The commonest examples of offers meant to open negotiations and to call forth offers in the technical sense [offers that are legally enforceable] are the advertisements, circulars and trade letters sent out by business houses. While it is possible that the offers made by such means may be in such form as to become contracts, they are often merely expressions of a willingness to negotiate.”

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