Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Embry v. Hargadine, McKittrick Dry Goods Co. case brief summary

Embry v. Hargadine, McKittrick Dry Goods Co. case brief summary

127 Mo.App. 383, 105 S.W. 777 (Mo. App. 1907).
 –this is the second time this court dealt with this matter.
 
Facts: 
Embry (P) was an employee of Hargadine, McKittrick Dry Goods [textile, fabric company] (D). He was paid $2,000 per year and was responsible for the sample department. A written employment contract between the parties expired on December 15, 1903.
A meeting occurred eight days later at which Embry said that he would seek work elsewhere unless his contract was renewed. Hargadine’s president, McKittrick, told Embry ‘Go ahead, you’re all right. Get your men out and don’t let that worry you.’ Embry remained with the company until he was fired on February 15th.
McKittrick denied having told Embry not to worry about his employment contract. At trial the court gave a jury instruction regarding contract formation and refused Embry’s proposed instructions. The jury was instructed that it was necessary for both parties to have had a subjective intent to contract or there would be no contract. The jury returned a verdict in favor of D and P appealed based on the jury instruction.

Issue: 
May a contract be formed without reference to the subjective intentions of either party?

Holding and Rule: 
Yes. A contract may be formed without reference to the subjective intentions of either party.

To form a valid contract there must be a meeting of the minds and both parties must agree to the same thing in the same sense. If a man conducts himself such that a reasonable person would believe that he was assenting to the terms proposed by another party, and that other party upon that belief enters into the contract, that man would be equally bound whether or not he had actual subjective intent. Therefore if what McKittrick said would have been taken by a reasonable man to be an employment contract, and P understood it as such, it constituted a valid contract of employment for the ensuing year. McKittrick’s subjective intent was not relevant.

Conclusion: 
Reversed and remanded. Court said Embry had a right to rely on the response and actions of Mr. Ms.Kittricks. If you manifest an intent to do something, then the expectation is that people will have to rely on it.

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