Ch.4 Statute of Frauds – The Sale of Goods SoF: UCC §2-201 p. 326 1/23 Buffaloe v Hart North Carolina Court of Appeals, 1994 114 N.C. App. 52 Facts: Evidentiary Facts Buffaloe agreed to rent tobacco barns. Defendants were to own the barns, and retain insurance on them. Buffaloe then offered to purchase the barns for $20K, over 4 years. Defendants orally accepted the offer to purchase. Buffaloe reimbursed defendants for the insurance coverage on the barns. Buffaloe then made improvements to the barn, placed an ad in the newspaper and sold the barns for a profit. He took the down payments from 3 different 3rd parties, and then gave $5K in the form of a check to defendants. On the check in the memo field was written “for 5 barns.” Defendants agreed that this was okay, then mailed the ripped up check back to Buffaloe stating they did not intend to allow him to purchase the barns. Defendants then sold the barns to the 3rd parties who were to buy the barns from Buffaloe. Procedural Facts The jury awarded plaintiff damages of $21K, defendants file a motion for JNOV, which is denied. Defendants appeal Issue: 1) Is a personal check signed by plaintiff containing a description of the property involved and an amount representing partial payment sufficient to constitute a writing under the SoF? 2) Is there substantial evidence to show that Buffaloe accepted the barns and Defendants accepted farmer’s check to take the contract out of the statute of frauds under the partial performance exception? Holding: 1) No. 2) Yes. Reasoning: The barns are “goods” within the meaning of the UCC, and are valued of at least $500, therefore the UCC applies. The contract is unenforceable under the UCC §25-2-201, which requires a signature of the party against whom enforcement is being sought; no where on the check is it endorsed by the defendants. Defendants assert that the partial performance exception under §25-2-201 is inapplicable because there was no overt action by the plaintiff, in fact no change from the rental period and the check was not a partial payment because it was never accepted. This court disagrees. The plaintiff did take possession, and under the UCC, part payment may be made by check, and it is a jury question whether the seller accepted the payment. The evidence (reimbursement for insurance, improvements, possession, selling, time lapse between the presentation of the check and its return) allowed the jury to conclude that there had been a contract between the parties. Judgment: Affirmed.
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