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Contracts Keyed to Kuney
Lucy v. Zehmer
Citation:196 Va. 493, 84 S.Ed.2d 516 (1954)
ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
On December 20, 1952, W. O. Lucy met with A. H. Zehmer at the Zehmers’ restaurant. The Zehmers owned a 471.6 acre tract of land known as the Ferguson farm. Lucy testified that he had known Zehmer for fifteen or twenty years and had been familiar with the Ferguson farm for ten years. Lucy had previously offered Zehmer $20,000 for the farm which Zehmer had verbally accepted the offer before backing out. On the evening of December 20, Lucy asked Zehmer if he had sold the farm and Zehmer replied that he had not. Lucy said that he would give him $50,000 for the farm, which Zehmer accepted but stated his doubts that Lucy would give him $50,000. Lucy then instructed Zehmer to write up an agreement. Zehmer wrote on the back of a restaurant check “I do hereby agree to sell to W. O. Lucy the Ferguson Farm for $50,000 complete.” Lucy then told him to change the language to “We” because Mrs. Zehmer would need to sign it too. After a thirty to forty minute discussion about the agreement, the three signed the agreement. The agreement that was admitted into evidence also included a provision for having the title examined. Lucy put the signed agreement in his pocket and offered Zehmer $5 immediately, which Zehmer refused.
The next day Lucy phoned his brother J.C. to arrange for the latter to take a half interest in the farm and pay half the consideration. Lucy then engaged an attorney to examine the title. Finding the title was satisfactory, Lucy wrote Zehmer stating he was ready to pay the purchase price in cash to which Zehmer replied that he did not agree to nor did he intend to sell the farm.
The Zehmers testimony was that the agreement was “scribbled” out as a joke to prove that Lucy did not have $50,000. They further testified that both A. H. Zehmer and Lucy were intoxicated at the time the agreement was written. However, a disinterested witness at a social gathering the day after the creation of the agreement heard Zehmer say to Lucy that “he was going to let him up off the deal, because he thought he was too tight, and didn’t know what he was doing.” To which Lucy replied that “I have been stuck before and I will go through with it.”
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