Brief Fact Summary. Two parties entered into an agreement whereby one was to harvest a certain amount of wheat on the other's property. The party doing the harvesting sent the landowner a bill, and the landowner sent the harvester a letter and a check for a lot less money than the harvester requested. The contents of the letter, and a notation on the check are at issue.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In order for there to be a satisfaction and accord, there must be a showing that "the defendant manifested to the plaintiff his intention to pay no more than the amount which he remitted."
Issue. Did the Defendant's letter and the check, and the Plaintiff's cashing of the check, constitute an accord and satisfaction?
Held. No, "there was no showing that the defendant manifested to the plaintiff his intention to pay no more than the amount which he remitted." The court observed that since the claim was unliquidated "if the check was intended as full payment and that fact was communicated to the plaintiff, his cashing of the check completed the accord." In determining whether the requisite intention existed, it was necessary to construe whether there was a meeting of the minds. The court analyzes the Defendant's letter and recognizes it does not say the check "is sent in full payment." Additionally, the letter does not say "I will pay no more than the amount enclosed." As such, the court determines the letter alone leaves the amount the Plaintiff is entitled to up for negotiation. The court then analyzes the check. The court observes that neither the Plaintiff nor his attorney saw the fine print. The burden is on the Defendant to demonstrate there was a meeting of the minds. "If the language contained in the fine print on the check was of significance in forming an accord, it must appear that the fact of its significance was brought to the plaintiff's attention." The court found that the evidence demonstrated it did not.
Dissent. The dissenting judge found that the letter on the check "present[s] a classic example of accord and satisfaction" and that "it should have been clear to a person of ordinary understanding that cashing the check constituted an acceptance of the $444 in full payment and discharge of plaintiff's claim".
Discussion. This case offers an interesting discussion about satisfaction and accord and how courts go about analyzing them.