Moulton v.Kershaw Case Brief

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					Moulton v. Kershaw 59 Wis. 316, 18 N.W. 172 (Wis. 1884)




Kershaw owned a salt mine and wrote a letter to a salt buyer (possible pretzel factory owner?) named Moulton, offering him salt at 85¢/bbl. Moulton wrote back and ordered 2000 bbl. Kershaw withdrew the offer and Moulton sued. o Technically, the initial letter never used the words "will sell you salt," it simply said that Kershaw was, "authorized to offer salt." Trial Court found for Moulton. Kershaw appealed. o Kershaw had argued that the initial letter was simply an offer and not a contract. Appellate Court overturned the Trial Court o Appellate Court found that it was very clear that no contract was ever perfected by the letters. o The letters did not specify a quantity of salt to be delivered. The lack of a quantity was construed to mean that it wasn't an offer.  The Court said that parties could be bound by offers to sell an amount fixed by the buyer, as opposed to the seller.  However, the letter Kershaw sent was not such an offer.  Kershaw's letter could have said something like, "we'll sell you all the salt you want," in which case it would be binding.  Without a specified quantity, the seller could be placed in a position where he'd be required to sell far more than he is able to provide. Therefore, unlimited quantity offers are generally not considered offers. o The Court felt that the letter was clearly an advertisement, not a contract. In this case, what was the offer? And what was the acceptance? o If Kershaw's letter really was an offer, and Moulton's

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letter really was an acceptance, then there would definitely be a contract. Kershaw won by convincing the Court that their letter was simply a request to receive an offer. The true offer in this case was Moulton's letter, and Kershaw never accepted the offer.

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