Sherwood v. Walker

Supreme Court of Michigan, 1887.

66 Mich. 568, 33 N.W. 919.

Dawson, pp. 606-612


Facts: Walker contracted to sell Sherwood a cow.The price suggested that both parties thought the cow was barren.If the cow is barren, itís only worth its value in meat.But the cow turned out to be pregnant, and it is worth a whole lot more as a breeder.After the contract had been signed, and the calf had been discovered, the defendant tried to back out of the contract. The plaintiff sued for replevin.The trial court ruled that the sale must proceed and found for the plaintiff.The defendant appealed.


Issue: Can the defendant rescind the contract on the basis that the parties didnít know the cow was fertile when they entered into the contract?


Rule: A contract may be rescinded if it was made in reliance upon a mutual mistake of fact.


Analysis: Majority says there was mutual mistake.The two sides didnít really know what they were making a contract about.


The minority says that the evidence tends to show that the plaintiff (buyer) knew what was going on even though the defendant didnít.


Conclusion: The contract is declared void for mutual mistake and


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