Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thompson v. Libby case brief

Thompson v. Libby case brief summary
26 N.W. 1 (1885)

Plaintiff vendor appealed from an order of the District Court for Dakota County (Minnesota), which refused a new trial in his action against defendant purchaser for the purchase money, after admitting evidence of a breach of a verbal warranty alleged to have been made at the time of the sale over the vendor's objection.

The vendor brought an action to recover the purchase money from the purchaser. The purchaser pleaded that the vendor had breached a warranty of the quality of the logs, and the trial court admitted oral testimony to prove the verbal warranty over the vendor's objection that such testimony was incompetent to prove a verbal warranty, because the contract of sale was in writing.


  • Upon the vendor's appeal, the court reversed the trial court's order, holding that it erred in admitting parol evidence of a warranty. 
  • Parol contemporaneous evidence was inadmissible to contradict or vary the terms of a valid written instrument. 
  • Because the parties deliberately put their engagements into writing in such terms as to create a legal obligation, without any uncertainty as to the object or extent of such engagement, it was conclusively presumed that the whole engagement of the parties, and the manner and extent of the undertaking, was reduced to writing. 
  • There was nothing on its face to indicate that the contract was a mere informal and incomplete memorandum. 
  • Furthermore, no new term, forming a mere incident to or part of the contract of sale, could be added by parol evidence.

The court reversed the trial court's order, which refused the vendor a new trial in his action against the purchaser to recover the purchase money.

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