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Law School Case Brief

Craft v. Elder & Johnston Co. - 38 N.E.2d 416 (Ohio Ct. App. 1941)


The most frequent case in which an advertisement has been construed as an offer in the technical sense involves a published offer of a reward for the furnishing of certain information, the return of particular property, or the doing of a certain act. In such case all that is necessary to confer the benefit demanded by the offeror is performance of the required act. Such offers, of course, are unilateral contracts, and principles of unjust enrichment alone would prevent the offeror from refusing to perform his promise upon the doing of the act. 


A seller placed an advertisement in a local newspaper wherein it offered for sale certain items at a specified price. The buyer answered the advertisement and tendered the price for an item, but the seller refused to submit the item to the buyer. The buyer brought suit seeking to recover damages on the seller's refusal to tender the item. The lower court dismissed the buyer's complaint and the decision was appealed. On appeal, the court focused its determination on whether the advertisement constituted an offer, which bound the seller once the buyer tendered the price for the item. 


Should an advertisement be considered a valid offer?




The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court because the advertisement was an invitation to bargain, and not an offer binding on the seller to accept the 'tender for the item. The court held that the advertisement did not constitute an offer, but an offer to negotiate. Because the advertisement lacked special circumstances, which would make it a unilateral contract, the seller was not bound by the advertisement. A general advertisement in a newspaper is an invitation to bargain, not an offer.

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