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Cole Eckter was the owner of a large and varied

collection of Native American, African, and other ethnic artifacts, pottery, rugs, art pieces, and other collectibles and antiques. Eckter began a protracted discussion with Bid Haggler, owner and operator of Haggler Auctions, to plan the auction of Eckter's collection. This discussion took place orally and by numerous e-mails. They anticipated and agreed to an online auction in addition to a conventional on-site auction to be held at Haggler's place of business. The online auction was to take place on eBay simultaneous with the on-site auction. Subsequently, the parties executed a written agreement. The one-page, "fill in the blank" form contract, drafted by Haggler, provided that Haggler would "sell said property, using his professional skill, knowledge, and experience to the best advantage of both parties in preparing and conducting the sale," and would "receive as compensation for promoting and conducting" an auction of Eckter's personal property "20% of the gross selling price" realized from the auction. The contract did not detail the manner in which the parties expected Haggler Auctions to conduct the auction (e.g., it said nothing about an online auction).

After that, Eckter turned over to Haggler 500 items designated for auction. He provided Haggler an inventory of the items. Haggler subsequently created online listings for the items based on the inventory. When Haggler informed Eckter that the listings were fully prepared and ready for the auction, Eckter inspected the auction listings on eBay and found that he could not locate many of his items through eBay's search engine. There were two reasons for that difficulty. First, Haggler admitted to Eckter in an email that he did not have time to create listings for every item. Second, many of the listings failed to correctly spell, describe, label, or categorize the particular items. This resulted in eBay's failure to index the listing properly which, in turn, caused the listing not to appear in the results of appropriate searches.

Eckter transmitted numerous corrections to Haggler, but many of the listings remained incorrect at the time of auction. As a result, many of the items were not sold. Those that sold brought considerably less than their market value. Eckter alleged that he "sustained significant monetary damages," due to the faulty way in which the auction was handled by Haggler. Specifically, Eckter claimed that Haggler failed adequately to perform the "promoting" of the online auction as obligated by the contract.

Question 1): Will the parol evidence rule prohibit evidence of the conversations and e-mails between Eckter and Haggler? Why or why not?

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No, the parol evidence rule will not prohibit evidence of... View the full answer

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