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Caldwell v. Cline

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff accepted Defendant’s offer, which stated that Plaintiff had eight days to accept or reject, six days after Plaintiff received it. However, Defendant received the acceptance nine days after he sent the offer to Plaintiff and refused to perform. Plaintiff sued Defendant for specific performance. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiff appealed. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    An offer made by mail is made when received by the offeree.

    Facts.

    In a letter dated January 29, 1929, W.D. Cline (Defendant) offered to give W.H. Caldwell (Plaintiff) $6,000.00 and a deed to his land on the Indian creek in exchange for Plaintiff’s farmland. The letter stated that Plaintiff had eight days to accept or reject the offer. Plaintiff received the letter on February 2, 1929. On February 8, 1929, Plaintiff wired his acceptance of the offer to Defendant. Defendant received the acceptance on February 9, 1929. Defendant refused to perform under the contract and Plaintiff sued for specific performance. Defendant moved to dismiss the suit and the lower court granted his motion. Plaintiff appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether an offer made by mail is made when received by the offeree.

    Held.

    Yes. The trial court’s ruling is reversed and the case is remanded. An offer made by mail is made when received by the offeree.

    Discussion.

    Whether an offer is given in person or by mail, it is not legally made until the offeree is made aware of it. Thus, where an offer is made by mail, it is not legally made until the offer is received. In this case, Defendant gave Plaintiff eight days to accept or reject the offer. Since the eight days are measured from the date Plaintiff received the offer and not from the date Defendant sent it, Plaintiff’s acceptance was within the deadline and a contract was made.


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