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DeepDive for Lucy v. Zehmer

196 Va. 493, 84 S.E.2d 516 (1954)

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Lucy v. Zehmer | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Buchanan, J.
Level 1
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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.

Zehmer's alleged intoxication does not invalidate the contract, as his detailed testimony and other evidence contradict his claim. The appearance of the contract, the lengthy discussion before signing, and the fact that Mrs. Zehmer also signed it suggest that the transaction was serious. Lucy's actions, such as financing the purchase and hiring an attorney to examine the title, support his belief that the contract was binding. The law looks to a person's outward expression of intention rather than their secret intentions. The contract is binding regardless of whether it resulted from a serious offer and acceptance or a serious offer and acceptance in secret jest. The defendants' argument against enforcing the contract is not supported by any usual grounds for opposing specific performance, and the purchase price was deemed fair. The case is being sent back to the lower court to require the defendants to fulfill their contractual obligations as requested by the plaintiffs.

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