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Day v. Caton

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff sued Defendant for half the value of a wall that Plaintiff built. The jury rendered a verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. Defendant appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Silence in the face of the actions of another party rendering services which were valuable to the silent party may be evidence of an acceptance and an agreement to pay for the services.

    Facts.

    Day (Plaintiff), owner of lot 29, built a wall on the property line with lot 27, which was vacant but owned by Caton (Defendant). Plaintiff testified that Defendant agreed to pay him one half the value of the wall when Defendant used it when building on lot 27. Defendant denied having any conversation with Plaintiff about the wall. Plaintiff sued Defendant for half the value of the wall. Defendant appealed a jury verdict in Plaintiff’s favor.

    Issue.

    Whether a contract is accepted if a party does not expressly agree to the contract but does not object to the other party rendering services valuable to him.

    Held.

    Yes. A jury could properly conclude a contract had been formed and that Defendant was liable for one half the value of the wall.Silence in the face of the actions of another party rendering services which were valuable to the silent party may be evidence of an acceptance and an agreement to pay for the services.

    Discussion.

    Though the fact that plaintiff expected to be paid for the work was not sufficient to establish the existence of a contract, where defendant assented to and availed himself of plaintiff’s services which were valuable to him, a trier of fact may infer that the defendant agreed to a contract when he had an opportunity to reject the services. Here, Plaintiff’s wall was a benefit to Defendant, who had an opportunity to reject the wall but declined. Defendant knew Plaintiff expected to be paid for the services. 


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