Law School Case Brief
Bos. Ice Co. v. Potter - 123 Mass. 28 (1877)
A party has a right to select and determine with whom he will contract, and cannot have another person thrust upon him without his consent.
Plaintiff supplier provided ice to defendant customer pursuant to a contract between the parties. The customer became dissatisfied with the supplier's service and canceled the contract. The customer entered into a contract for ice delivery with another company, which then sold its business to the supplier. Unbeknownst to the customer, the supplier again began delivering ice to the customer. The supplier sued the customer to recover payment for ice delivered pursuant to a contract that the supplier assumed after it bought another ice company. The trial court issued a judgment in favor of the customer because there was no contract of sale between parties.
Could the supplier recover payment from the customer?
The Supreme Court of Massachusetts affirmed the trial court's judgment. There was no privity of contract established between the plaintiff and defendant, and without such privity the possession and use of the property did not support an implied assumpsit. The Court found that the parties had no express contract and that no contract could be implied because a presumption of assent to a contract with the supplier on the part of the customer could not be implied from the customer's reception and use of ice when the customer had no knowledge that ice was furnished by the supplier.
A party has a right to select and determine with whom he will contract, and cannot have another person thrust upon him without his consent. The Court held that if the customer, before receiving the ice, or during its delivery, had received notice of the change, and that the original supplier could no longer perform its contract with him, it would then have been his undoubted right to have rescinded the contract and to decline to have it executed by the supplier. But this he was unable to do, because the supplier failed to inform the customer of that which he had a right to know.
Access the full text case
Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.
Be Sure You're Prepared for Class