Moulton v. Kershaw

Supreme Court of Wisconsin, 1884.

59 Wis. 316, 18 N.W. 172.

Dawson, pp. 343-345


Facts: The defendants sent a letter to the plaintiff saying they had cheap salt for sale.The plaintiff responded with an order for 2,000 barrels.The defendants withdrew their letter and wouldnít sell the salt to the plaintiff.The plaintiff sued. The defendants demurred, but were overruled.The defendants appealed.


Issue: Did the defendantsí letter plus the telegram in reply from the plaintiff constitute a contract for the sale of 2,000 barrels of salt?


Rule: There is no contract if the letter was an advertisement rather than an offer.


Analysis: The case boils down to whether the defendantís letter was an ad or an offer (a promise).The court interprets the language of the letter and says that itís an ad, partly because they donít use the word sell and partly because it doesnít sound like the typical language of a serious business offer.


Conclusion: The court overrules the trial court and finds for the defendants.


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