Morrison v. Thoelke

District Court of Appeal of Florida, 1963.

155 So.2d 889.

Dawson, pp. 437-442


Facts: The plaintiffs own some property in Florida that they were going to sell to the defendants.  The defendants mailed a contract for the sale of the property to the plaintiffs in Texas.  Then the plaintiffs signed the contract and sent it back to Florida.  After mailing the contract back but before the defendants received it, the plaintiffs called to repudiate the contract.  The plaintiffs sued to quiet title in order to try to prevent the defendants from selling the property.  The trial court decided for the plaintiffs, saying that the repudiation was effective, and the defendants appealed.


Issue: When does a mailed acceptance become effective?


Rule: The “mailbox rule” says that an acceptance is effective as soon as the acceptance is deposited in the mail.


Analysis: The court goes into a long and involved history of the mailbox rule.  The court cites three factors that went into the creation of the rule in the case of Adams v. Lindsell:


1.     It is efficient to establish a “bright line”, hard-edged rule for the sake of efficiency.  This is satisfied by making acceptance effective at the time the envelope goes into the mailbox.

2.     The court wanted to limit the ruling of Cooke v. Oxley without overruling it.  The new rule would allow offers to be revoked any time before acceptance except in this case of mailing acceptance.

3.     In terms of doctrine, a mailed offer is considered an offer that remains continuously open while it’s in the mail.


Conclusion: The trial court is reversed and the court rules in favor of the defendants.


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