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Bowling v. Sperry

    Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Larry Bowling (Plaintiff), a minor, entered into an agreement with the Defendant, Max E. Sperry d/b/a Sperry Ford Sales (Defendant) to purchase a 1947 Plymouth automobile. A week after it was purchased, the car broke down and Plaintiff brought suit to rescind the contract based on his lack of capacity.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. With certain exceptions, contracts entered into by minors are voidable and can be rescinded.

    Facts. Plaintiff bought a 1947 Plymouth from Defendant, for the sales price of $140.00. Plaintiff paid a $50.00 deposit and paid the balance when he received the car. At the time he took possession of the car, his aunt and grandmother accompanied him to the dealership, but the purchase was done in his name and it was known that he was the buyer of the car. After driving the car for a week, it was discovered that the main bearing had burned out and Plaintiff attempted to return the car. The Defendant refused to return his money and suit followed. At the trial level, the Court dismissed the case, based on the fact that Plaintiff had borrowed money from his aunt and had been accompanied by her to the dealership when he took possession of the car. Plaintiff appealed.

    Issue. This case questions whether a contract is enforceable when it is entered into by a minor.

    Held. Reversed.
    The Court found that facts of this matter clearly illustrated that Plaintiff was underage when he bought the automobile and that Defendant was aware of his age at that time, regardless of other extenuating circumstances.
    It should be noted that the court also goes into the question of whether the automobile was a “necessary”, in the sense that it was indispensable to Plaintiff and he could not be maintained without it. The court dismissed this theory, saying that Defendant could not meet the burden of proving that Plaintiff needed the vehicle.

    Discussion. The contracts of minors are always per se null because it is assumed that minors cannot deal with the ramifications of breach.


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