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Dodson v. Shrader

Melissa A. Hale

ProfessorMelissa A. Hale

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

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Dodson v. Shrader
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    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff Joseph Dodson purchased a pick-up truck from Defendant Shrader’s Auto Sales. At the time of the sale Plaintiff was 16 years of age. After the truck broke down Plaintiff sought to rescind the sale on grounds that he lacked legal capacity to enter into the contract at the time of the sale.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Absent overreaching and unfair bargaining, a seller may receive reasonable compensation for the use of, depreciation of, or damage to goods sold to a minor.

    Facts. Plaintiff, who at the time was 16 years of age, purchased a pick-up truck from Defendant for $4900. No discussion of Plaintiff’s age was had and Defendant testified that he believed Plaintiff to be 18 or 19 years old. Plaintiff bought the truck with money had had borrowed from his girlfriend’s grandmother. After nine months from the date of purchase, Plaintiff brought the truck in for repair after the truck began experiencing mechanical difficulties. The mechanic notified Plaintiff that it was likely the truck needed a repair. Plaintiff could not afford such repairs and elected to continue driving the truck around until the engine blew out. After unsuccessfully trying to return the truck to Defendant, Plaintiff parked the car in his front yard. While parked, a passing car hit the front fender of the truck; the estimated value of the truck after the collision was $500. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants seeking to rescind the original agreement. The trial court granted P
    laintiff’s request and required Defendant to reimburse Plaintiff for the full purchase price.

    Issue. Whether a seller is entitled to receive reasonable compensation for the loss of value to goods sold to a minor while such goods are in the minor’s possession.

    Held. The Court held that absent any overreaching, fraud, or unfair advantage on the part of the adult seller, a seller is entitled to reasonable compensation for the use of, depreciation, or willful or negligent damage done to goods sold, while such goods are in the minor’s possession. The Court remanded the case to the trial court to make factual determinations of whether there was any overreaching, and if not, to determine whether Plaintiff’s actions of parking the car on the side of the road and failing to get the truck fixed constituted gross negligence on behalf of Plaintiff.

    Dissent. This case provides protection to a seller by providing them with reasonable compensation for loss of value to goods while such goods are in a minor’s hands. It also protects the minor because this rule will only apply when there is no evidence of overreaching, fraud, or unfair advantage on part of the adult seller.

    Discussion. A seller of goods to a minor, absent overreaching, fraud or unfair advantage, will be entitled to reasonable compensation for the use of, deprecation to, or damage done by willful or negligent conduct to goods sold, while such goods are in the minor’s possession.


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