Minnesota Supreme Court - 251 Minn. 188, 251 Minn. 188, 86 N.W.2d 689
In Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store (1957), a man sued a store for breach of contract after they advertised fur coats and stoles for $1 each, first-come, first-served. He was the first to arrive twice but was refused, as the store said the sale was only for women. He argued that he accepted their offer by being first in line, so he filed a lawsuit. The trial court and appellate court found in his favor, stating the advertisement was a clear, definite, and explicit offer with no room for negotiation. They determined he accepted the offer by being first, and the store couldn't add new conditions not mentioned in the ad.
This case shows that an advertisement can sometimes be viewed as an offer. Typically, an ad is not an offer but an invitation for negotiation. However, it can be an offer if it promises something in exchange for a specific act without further discussion. It also highlights that acceptance can be signified through actions, not just words. Acceptance shows agreement to an offer's terms, and when the offer asks for action, performing that act signifies acceptance.
Lastly, the case clarifies the difference between an offer and an invitation to treat. An offer leads to a legal obligation if accepted, while an invitation to treat encourages further negotiations or dealings.
The plaintiff was awarded damages for breach of contract after the defendant refused to sell a fur piece advertised in a newspaper. The defendant argued that the advertisement was a unilateral offer that could be withdrawn without notice, citing legal cases in support. However, the court held that the advertisement constituted a clear and explicit offer that, when accepted, completed a contract. The defendant's refusal to sell the merchandise to the plaintiff constituted a breach of contract, and the plaintiff was entitled to damages for the value of the advertised black lapin stole. The court correctly denied the plaintiff's claim for the value of the fur coats due to the speculative and uncertain nature of their value.
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