Lexis Nexis - Case Brief

Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Law School Case Brief

Bull Motor Co. v. Murphy - 101 Ark. App. 33, 270 S.W.3d 350 (2007)

Rule:

Where the parties have attached the same meaning to a promise or agreement or a term thereof, it is interpreted in accordance with that meaning. Where the parties have attached different meanings to a promise or agreement or a term thereof, it is interpreted in accordance with the meaning attached by one of them if at the time the agreement was made: (a) that party did not know of any different meaning attached by the other, and the other knew the meaning attached by the first party; or (b) that party had no reason to know of any different meaning attached by the other, and the other had reason to know the meaning attached by the first party. With some exceptions, neither party is bound by the meaning attached by the other, even though the result may be a failure of mutual assent.

Facts:

On December 8, 2004, a thief stole a 2005 truck from BMC. The truck was recovered by the police 90 minutes later and had been driven 40 miles. The truck was returned to BMC's lot. On January 4, 2005, Murphy purchased the truck as a "new" truck for $ 33,495. The salesman, Bo Henderson, was unaware that the truck had been stolen at the time of the sale and did not disclose the information to Murphy. On March 10, 2005, Murphy filed suit, alleging that BMC breached the sales contract by not disclosing the prior theft of the truck. The complaint also asserted that the vehicle was worth $ 8,495 less because it had been stolen and driven by the thief. BMC denied the material allegations of the complaint and asserted that Murphy had not suffered any damages. BMC later moved for summary judgment, contending that Murphy suffered no damages in that he received a "new" vehicle because Ark. Code Ann. § 23-112-103(22) (Arkansas Motor Vehicle Commission Act) defined a "new" vehicle as one whose title has not been transferred to an ultimate purchaser. The circuit court denied the motion, and the case proceeded to trial. The court awarded the buyer damages and the dealership appealed contending that the circuit court erred in denying its motion for summary judgment, its motion for a directed verdict, and its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, because the truck was "new" under the Arkansas Motor Vehicle Commission Act. 

Issue:

Was the truck considered new under the definition found in the Arkansas Motor Vehicle Commission Act?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The appellate court found that the statute was not applicable to an agreement of sale between a dealership and a buyer. Further, the generally prevailing meaning of a "new" vehicle did not include a vehicle that had been stolen; the dealership had reason to know this, and the buyer had no reason to know that the definition of a new vehicle, contained in the Act for purposes of distinguishing between new and used car dealers, provided otherwise. As the sales contract established the fair market price of the truck and the buyer's testimony established the difference in the actual value at the time of purchase, the jury could properly award the buyer damages. The buyer's testimony was relevant because it showed the doubts he had about the vehicle and why, in his opinion, the value was reduced from the contract price. The circuit court's decision awarding damages was affirmed.

Access the full text case Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.
Be Sure You're Prepared for Class