Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia - 196 Va. 493
In Lucy v. Zehmer (1954), the Virginia Supreme Court ruled on a land sale contract dispute. Farmer W.O. Lucy wanted to buy a farm from A.H. Zehmer, who repeatedly refused to sell. One night, they discussed the sale at a restaurant, and Zehmer wrote a contract on a napkin for $50,000. Both Zehmer and his wife signed it. Lucy offered $5 as a deposit, but Zehmer declined. Lucy later arranged the funds and informed Zehmer, but he refused, claiming it was a joke.
Lucy sued for specific performance, but the lower court sided with Zehmer, saying there was no valid contract due to a lack of mutual agreement or meeting of the minds. Lucy appealed, and the Supreme Court overturned the verdict, stating that intention is based on external expressions of agreement, not internal thoughts. A reasonable person would think Zehmer's actions showed a legitimate offer. Lucy accepting the napkin and preparing payment signified mutual agreement and consideration for a binding contract.
This case highlights legal principles in contract creation and interpretation, including intention, manifestation, assent, and jest. It is relevant for understanding contractual rights and obligations in offers or claims.
This case involves a dispute over the sale of a farm between W. O. Lucy and J. C. Lucy (complainants) and A. H. Zehmer and Ida S. Zehmer (defendants). The complainants seek specific performance of a contract for the sale of the Ferguson farm for $50,000, which was written and signed by the defendants. The defendants claim that the contract was not serious and was made in jest, but the complainants argue that it was a valid agreement. The authenticity of Zehmer's signature and the seriousness of the agreement are in question, as Zehmer had consumed a significant amount of alcohol on the night in question. Witnesses have conflicting testimonies, and clear evidence is needed to support the defendants' defense. The lower court dismissed the complainants' bill, and the appeal is based on this action.
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