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Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co.

(1965)

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit - 350 F.2d 445

tl;dr:

Rent-to-buy form contract with clause to repossess all furniture ever bought. Unconscionable and non-enforceable.

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ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co.

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Facts & HoldingWilliams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co. case brief facts & holding

Facts:Plaintiff-Appellee Walker-Thomas “sells” furniture on form rent-to-own contracts. The contracts...

Holding:Lower court decision is vacated and remanded to trial court...

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Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co. | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: J. SHELLY WRIGHT, Circuit Judge:
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The case involves a dispute between a furniture store and two appellants who defaulted on their monthly payments for household items purchased through printed form contracts. The contracts contained a provision that allowed the store to repossess all items previously purchased by the same purchaser if they defaulted on payments. The lower courts granted judgment for the store, rejecting the appellants' argument that the contracts were unconscionable. In a separate case, the court found an appellee's conduct to be irresponsible and suggested that Congress should consider corrective legislation to protect the public from exploitive contracts. The court held that unconscionable contracts should not be enforced and may adopt a similar rule.

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Dissenting opinion, author: DANAHER, Circuit Judge
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The dissenting opinion in the Williams case recommended corrective legislation to protect the public from exploitative contracts, but the judge believed that the appellant was aware of the contract terms and that public policy considerations were at play. The "Loan Shark" law may provide a remedy if necessary. The lower court did not find evidence of sharp practice. Parties are allowed to create their own contracts, so caution must be exercised when addressing installment credit transaction issues. The impact of the decision on numerous transactions in the jurisdiction is unclear. The author agrees with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals' handling of the matter. The lower court erred in not finding evidence of sharp practice.

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