Courts often consider the background circumstances surrounding the agreement - Like if an offer was made clearly in jest or rage - If you could reasonably believe offeror was serious, offer will be binding KOLODZIEJ v. MASON (2014)
Facts: - Mason was an attorney defending a client on trial for murder - The posecution created a timeline for the murder involving Mason’s client making it from an airport to a hotel in the area in 28 minutes. - In an interview with a reporter Mason referenced the state’s burden of proof and went on to say he’d pay “them a million dollars if they can do it.” - Kolodziej, a law student saw a portion of the clip on Dateline and took it as an open challenge. He completed the route in under 28 mins, filmed it, and sent it to Mason demanding his money. - Mason denied it was a serious offer and, in a summary judgement, the trial court agreed. Kolodziej appealed. Opinion (Wilson, Circuit Judge, US Court of Appeals): - Court does not find Mason’s statement to be such that a reasonable person would take it as an invite to contract, wether unedited or clip of interview seen by Kolodziej. - The use of the term “a million dollars” is clear hyperbole, which is a reason to doubt seriousness of the offer (common law). Content of his word alone give reason to pause - With context considered, the statement was about poking holes in theory, not serious. - There was no contact between parties, no confirmation of seriousness, no contact number for the broadcast, money was not set aside, and other acts (or lack there of) to show he was serious. - Court affirmed trial court’s decision. Advertisements - Usually considered preliminary negotiations rather than offers to sell - An ad that names company, describes item to be sold, and gives a price is considered an invitation to patronize the store, even if term “offer” on ad. - Rationale for this is 1) most ads are silent on other matters like stock available or credit terms, 2) principle that sellers of goods can choose who they sell to, and 3) cannot predict the volume of responders and does not want to be committed to huge number of sales whenever a customer wants the advertised item. - Rule applies to catalogs, price quotes, and even price tags - When a customer brings ad to store, the customer is making an offer to the store - Advertisements can be offers in situations where it is stated that quantity is limited, there is a limit to the number of people who can accept or any other language promising to a first number of customers - Ads of rewards are treated as offers (return lost property, info on crime etc.) - Offeree must have known about reward before action to constitute acceptance Consumer Protection - Above rules allow bad merchants to place ads that they don’t intend to keep - Consumer protection statutes protect consumers from these merchants/sellers.
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- Spring '08