Thomason v. Bescher

Supreme Court of North Carolina, 1918.

176 N.C. 622, 97 S.E. 654

Dawson, pp. 392-393


Facts: The defendants made a promise under seal that in return for $1 from the plaintiff, they would sell the plaintiff a timber tract in exchange for $6,000 by a certain date.  Before the $6,000 was tendered, the defendants notified the plaintiff that they had revoked the offer.  The plaintiff sued for specific performance.  The jury found that the $1 had never been paid, but that the plaintiff was able and willing to pay the $6,000 the whole time.  The court granted specific performance, and the defendant appealed.


Issue: Are offers under seal enforceable at equity?


Rule: Instruments under seal are binding at common law even without consideration.  When the offer is accepted, it becomes a bilateral contract enforceable at equity.


Analysis: The court finds that the sealed instrument is effective to bind the offerors to keep their offer open until the date they said they would.  The plaintiff was ready to give him the money before that date, and the defendants refused, breaking their sealed promise.


Conclusion: The trial court is upheld; the plaintiff has a right to specific performance.


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